Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Hidden Heroes
Caregiver Journey Map Campaign for Inclusive Care

Sonia and Julio Alvarado

We’re not only his caregivers, we are now his voice.

What does being a military caregiver mean to you?

All our dreams of doing something different with our lives are over, because all our time and strength are dedicated to taking care of and providing for our son.

What was one of the first major challenges you faced as a military caregiver?

A major challenge was trying to find the resources that were available for my son. We realized that we were the only ones fighting on his behalf. We’re not only his caregivers, but we became his voice and representatives on everything.

What do you think is the biggest misconception civilians have about your situation?

Most people don’t understand the extent of the injuries that our loved ones have suffered. They don’t realize that physical injuries also come with emotional and spiritual wounds they’re unable to see.

My Story

After serving as pastors for over 15 years, Sonia and Julio redirected their devotion to the care of their son, former Army Sgt. Luis A. Alvarado. He was severely injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom. Luis lost his legs in the blast, suffered burns, and was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) that left him completely incapacitated. Sonia and Julio relocated to San Antonio, TX from Illinois to care for Luis’ needs. They received training while he was in the hospital so they could eventually care for him at home. Their own lives have brand new meaning: ensuring their son receives the best medical, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual care he needs to rebuild a meaningful life.

As Elizabeth Dole Fellows, Sonia and Julio offer moral and spiritual support to other caregivers coping with life altering challenges, and they bring attention to gaps in needed programs and resources.