Sandy Cullins

My advice to other military and veteran caregivers is to know that you are not alone. We are here to support you. I encourage military and veteran caregivers to reach out for help and to know that you are strong and capable of much more than you have ever imagined.

How did your life change when you became a caregiver? Were there aspects of your life (such as school, career, or retirement plans) that you had to alter?

I became a caregiver while my husband was still on active duty. I was responsible for raising our family, moving our family multiple times to different states, supporting my husband’s military career, and caring for him after he was wounded in combat. I postponed my professional goal of becoming a licensed clinical psychologist for ten years to care for my husband and to focus on his treatment and recovery from invisible wounds. Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, I returned to the workforce to continue my training and am now a clinical psychologist.

What are your biggest challenges as a caregiver?

Identifying resources for my husband, developing a support network, and finding balance between caregiving, family, and work are among my biggest challenges. When my husband was injured, there were many new roles to play – helping him determine the best courses of treatment, consulting on his care, scheduling appointments, getting him enrolling in the VA, and making sure that he had what he needed daily to be well cared for. Based on my experiences as a caregiver and a military spouse, I believe there are three essential parts of caregiving: commitment, compassion, and community. Caregiving is a difficult job and many caregivers experience compassion fatigue. Having a community of support, both local and national, is vital and can help alleviate burn out.

Tell us who you are outside of your role as a caregiver. What interests you? Do you go to school, work, or volunteer? Are you an entrepreneur?

Outside of my role as a caregiver, and my work in clinical psychology, I volunteer for the San Diego Psychological Association. As a caregiver of a combat-disabled veteran and a clinical psychologist, I am deeply committed to identifying barriers to behavioral health care, improving access to mental health care, and reducing the suicide rate in our active duty and veterans’ communities. To address these important issues, I have decided to start a private practice focused on advocating for and serving the mental health needs of our military, veterans, and their families.


My Story