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

Tammie Gillums

There is definitely a struggle between balancing career and caregiving.

When did you first realize you were a military caregiver?

My story is unique in that my husband had already been paralyzed for eight years when I met him. I had to learn everything after the fact. In my situation, caregiving is similar to nursing. I had to learn how to take his blood pressure and other procedures.

What was one of your first challenges as a caregiver?

Our family is blended. It took time for my kids to understand about spinal cord injuries when I married Sherman. All of us needed to learn how to make adaptations to our lives.

How do you find strength in the difficulty of your day-to-day?

I developed a hobby. I took up quilting and sewing for fun after taking a free class at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I am at a stage in my caregiving where I can rely on my teenage daughters to help. My husband also is able to work. During the day, I make time for myself with sewing.

My Story

Tammie cares for her husband, Sherman, full-time. She was in the Army when she met him on active duty. He had served in the Marines and is paralyzed. They blended their families, which came with its own struggles. Sherman leads the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Tammie is a full-time mom and caregiver.

As a Dole Fellow, she is especially interested in promoting resources for paralyzed veterans and their families.