I am proud that I am able to help where I am needed not only for my family but other military families too.
What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?
I am excited about the opportunity to educate. Education is one of my passions. I think that so much of society doesn’t understand the military lifestyle and how you can really buy into it and when you leave that active duty community, it is difficult to find your place in the civilian world. Then you add medical component and it makes it so very difficult to even get basic day to day tasks done like “normal” families. I love the idea of empowering the family to have their own voice and they are important too. I want them to know their dreams matter and what steps we can do to make them come true.
At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?
I think it hit me hard when he medically retired. Once we were out and didn’t keep up the day to day of what our life was—we really realized just how hard it was for him to do some of the smallest tasks. I look back now and see all the ways I was helping for many years prior.
How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?
Our partnership has changed and we needed to re-explore how I can let him help within him means. ALSO—I have had to change. I have had to learn that I can’t control everything under the sun and I am not able to go at it alone. I learned that I can’t have elaborate plans, complex fast conversations or expect things done in the same timely manner that we were once able to achieve these task. We were a vibrant young family that traveled, laughed, and enjoyed things; however, even with all of our new obstacles, we are still a vibrant young family that uses humor to get through the days. We don’t go out as much as we use to and we keep our circle extremely small. We try to focus so much on the positive and to be mindful of our journey and know that not every opportunity is the right fit for our family, but that is ok. We are still moving forward even if the steps are smaller and slightly to the left.
Rachel Moyers of Smithville, Missouri is a military caregiver for her husband Matthew, a retired Air Force Technical Sergeant. One of her biggest challenges has been coping with the loneliness and isolation that often accompany the caregiving lifestyle.
Working as a Munitions System Craftsman took a staggering toll on Matthew’s body over the years. He suffers from several mobility-limiting physical issues, including herniated discs, stenosis, and radiculopathy, as well as severe arthritis in his back, shoulder, and legs. He also struggles with hearing as a result of tinnitus and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Rachel looks back fondly on the early days of being a military spouse, a part of the military culture and community, and supporting her fellow military families. After Matthew’s retirement, Rachel found herself in a new role as a caregiver for her husband, supporting him as they navigated the post-military health care system to seek the help they needed for his deteriorating body. For the past five years, Rachel has supported Matthew in daily activities such as administering medications, managing appointments and taking care of their home. She has learned to identify the symptoms of Matthew’s invisible wounds, which include anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Rachel and Matthew have two young children who are often eager to offer a helping hand.
In the fall of 2018, Rachel began working with the Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network and is grateful for the support and understanding she receives in her new position. As a caregiver, Rachel is proud to help empower others as they navigate this challenging journey.
Rachel obtained her doctorate degree while caring for her husband and encourages other caregivers to shoot for the stars and set goals for themselves. A passionate educator, she looks forwarding to utilizing her platform as a Dole Fellow to inform society of the struggles involved in transitioning from the world of active-duty military to that of a civilian.