Being a military caregiver has given me the position to speak out about veteran care.
How has being a military caregiver changed you?
Being a military caregiver has given me the position to speak out about veteran care. I have the opportunity to be good at something; to be an expert in caregiving. I can be instrumental in making positive changes for caregivers.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your situation as a military caregiver?
People who aren’t caregivers don’t realize the large amount of work that I do. Many people consider work/gainful employment in old-school terms: working outside of the home between the hours of nine to five. This type of employment is not an effective way for me, as a full-time caregiver, to work. However, given more flexible work options, such as telecommute, I am able to work. There is a need for people to be more aware of how mental health issues affect both the wounded warrior and his or her caregiver.
What was the first major challenge you faced as a military caregiver?
There were two major challenges at the beginning—family finances and my identity. I had spent a lot of time and money investing in my education and my career. Having to leave my career to care for my husband led me to question my identity at the same time as it caused huge financial difficulties for our family.
Precious is a tech education specialist in addition to a caregiver for her husband, Leonard. Leonard served in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, after having been deployed during Operation Desert Storm years earlier. With his chronic and severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Precious manages his needs and advocate for his treatment, while also making sure she does not get burned out. She is working on her doctorate in distance education.
As a Dole Fellow, Precious is committed to finishing her doctoral work in distance education and is focused on finding better ways to promote online resources and collaboration for caregivers.