I just want to give to back and help as many caregivers that may be having the same thoughts or experiences I did.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to other military and veteran caregivers?
One piece of advice I would give to other military and veteran caregivers is to not lose your own identity. Far too often the job of the caregiver becomes who we are, not what we do. Be the spouse, parent, sibling, etc. first and try to not let the lines get crossed.
At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?
The realization that I was a military caregiver came to me after my divorce. I had this pull to continue helping those that needed me. This allowed me to build a relationship with another disabled veteran and not let mistakes of the past hinder that.
How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?
Life as a caregiver can be very demanding, and in return, very fulfilling. Learning from the mistakes from my previous caregiving experiences has helped to make sure I am his wife first and his caregiver second.
Stephanie Hall of Mount Pleasant, Michigan is a military caregiver for her husband Terrance, an Army veteran. One of her biggest challenges is helping her children process their father’s emotional reactions and understand the difference between anger and frustration.
During his 20 years in the military, Terrance suffered several injuries from an improvised explosive device (IED) attack during a 2007 tour in Iraq and a vehicle born explosive device (VBED) explosion five years later in Afghanistan, resulting in a damaged back, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) accompanied by memory loss. As a caregiver, Stephanie helps Terrance manage the symptoms of his PTSD, administers medication and helps him remember to attend various appointments and complete everyday activities.
A mother of three and full-time Special Education Assistant in the Mount Pleasant Public School System, Stephanie still finds time to support and assist her fellow caregivers and their veterans. She currently serves as the Vice President and Event Director of a Michigan-based nonprofit that supports wounded veterans and their loved ones. When her schedule allows, Stephanie attends Kent County Veterans Treatment Court to offer support and resources to families of veterans involved in the judicial system.
Stephanie often speaks of the incredible impact of relationships with fellow caregivers who understand the joys and struggles she’s experienced and looks forward to sharing the resources and skills that she has developed during her new role as a Dole Caregiver Fellow.