Vivian Mitchell

T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego (It is up to You) Christ shidziilgo ásósinii bee t’áá ałtsoní ádeeshłíiłgo bíneesh’á (I can do all things through Christ which strengtens me)

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

My husband had already incurred his physical and psychological injuries before we met, and I stepped right into the role of caregiver the day we married. I accepted this without question and without it even being a topic of discussion between us. That’s not to say my life didn’t change. After 15 years as an emergency medical technician (EMT), I retired and moved with my children from my home and extended Navajo family in New Mexico to live with him in Colorado. The first year was a blur of adaptations – from learning how to manage his PTSD, to helping my sons understand their new father’s behaviors, to living a military lifestyle as my husband was still on active duty. It was a lot to cope with in the beginning, and it’s still a daily struggle but now our family is more in tune with each other.

What are your biggest challenges as a caregiver?

My family has learned to overcome many challenges that can stem from being a blended family, a military family, and a caregiver family. Still, I believe my adult children could benefit from resources that address the potential impacts of living with two parents who have PTSD. They were exposed to my PTSD during my years working as an EMT. I didn’t know at that time that there were organizations that could help families cope with PTSD, or that the military had resources that could help us.

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?

As a Native American of the Diné (Navajo) tribe, I am dedicated to finding solutions to the absence of accessible medical facilities for veterans on the Navajo reservation, especially for mental health concerns. As a Fellow, I hope to bring attention to this crisis as well as help Navajo veteran caregivers understand that there are resources available to help them in their caregiving role. I’m also very involved in my children’s education, and I helped create the first Native American scholarship for Pikes Peak State College in Colorado Springs. In addition, my husband and I volunteer as key leaders for Operation Heal Our Patriots, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, where we mentor military couples.


My Story