It is more than okay to take a break for yourself.
What does being a military or veteran caregiver mean to you?
Being a military caregiver means being the person that my husband relies on the most. I have become his security blanket, his voice, his confidant and his fighter. Being a caregiver means I take on the role to educate those around me of the struggles our veterans continue to face now that they are home.
At what moment did you realize you were a military caregiver?
I realized I was a military caregiver when I was the one that was keeping my family afloat with the bills, household tasks, and our overall sanity. When I had to fight for my husband’s care and keep his schedules with meds and doctor appointments, as well as be his memory, I knew that I was his caregiver.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to other military and veteran caregivers?
You are not alone. There are people here to support you and help you in times of need. It is more than okay to take a break for yourself.
Tiffany Wayment and her husband Braden met when he returned home from his first deployment to Iraq in 2004 and married before his second deployment to Afghanistan. In 2011, Braden was transported in a medevac helicopter from Afghanistan and returned with a lower lumbar spine injury and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was sent home for treatment and placed into the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Bliss for six months. During this time, Tiffany was pregnant with their first child. She dropped her job and her studies for her degree in interior design to focus solely on Braden and getting him back to "normal."
Over the next two years, Tiffany helped Braden get his paperwork together so that he could medically retire from the Army. During this stressful time, Braden became addicted to opiates. Tiffany was so overwhelmed with caring for their young child, managing the finances and medical appointments, avoiding PTSD triggers, and the medical retirement process that she didn't realize how serious the addiction was until Braden was arrested.
Tiffany knew that Braden either needed to get help and go to rehab, or she needed to walk away. She chose to help Braden get into rehab and focus on his mental health as well as his physical health. Braden now works in an administrative position helping other veterans with their GI Bill benefits. Daily, Tiffany monitors his medication, attends all his doctors' appointments, provides emotional support, and cares for their now three children.
One of Tiffany's best memories as a caregiver was witnessing the attention and care her husband received at the VA when he needed to have a rib removed. Based on Tiffany’s concerns about Braden’s struggle with pain medication, Braden’s health care team called each of them every day to check on his pain and addiction and make sure their stories matched. Tiffany felt that this made Braden’s recovery process smoother and helped her balance being both a wife and a concerned caregiver.