We would do it all over again because we love our country.
What are the most significant lessons you have learned from being a caregiver?
I think one thing that has been hard for me to accept is that the emotions I might be feeling in a certain scenario are okay to feel. I don’t have to be hard on myself for feeling or not feeling a certain way in a situation.
How do you find strength in the difficulty of your day-to-day?
Taking up kickboxing has helped a lot. I feel strong, healthy, and empowered through what I can push myself to do physically. I also love to read and I think it helps to “escape” reality for a bit.
What do you think is the biggest misconception civilians have about your situation?
Invisible wounds affect so many parts of our lives in ways that most people just don’t understand. When you can see the injury, it’s easier to grasp how much it plays a role in everyday life. And even though we have had to navigate some challenges related to military service, we would do it all over again because we love our country, and we also had some phenomenal experiences and opportunities related to service.
By the time Raquel's husband Chris left the military, he had deployed three times and lost his best friend along the way. When he was discharged, she thought their life was going to become more “normal.” Raquel hadn’t expected the invisible wounds which began to surface in the months that followed. Although it felt mostly uphill in the beginning, they embarked on their mission toward health and wellbeing, facing it as team. Raquel and Chris share in the challenges and the successes together. She provides care by managing Chris’s treatment regimen and helping him to navigate triggers and stress.
In her role as a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Raquel would like to increase awareness about the challenges regarding reserve components. She would also like to shed light on what it means to be a military caregiver and how to increase support for our community. And by the time her fellowship ends, she hopes to finish her PhD in Criminal Justice.
Read UAlbany's article about my role as a Dole Caregiver Fellow here.