For the past 12 years, my life has increasingly become defined as a military caregiver. This is not a completely negative aspect of who I am, for I love my husband. He proudly served the United States for close to 20 years. He is an honorable man who earned his medical retirement with dignity and respect. A true American hero.
His world is getting smaller due to using up five of his nine lives while serving in Iraq. Recently, he was given the prognosis of possible chronic traumatic encephalopathy, based on signs and symptoms he is presenting, along with eight long months of extensive testing that eliminated all other options.
Why is this important to tell you? Because during this time, I had the realization that his world was consuming my identity. Something had to change. Yes, meeting his medical and personal needs is still top priority, but so is making sure I don’t lose who I am in the process.
As an Elizabeth Dole Fellow for Military Caregivers, we are taught, we share, and we support the value of respite: time away to take care of our personal needs. We need this time to recoup and recover so we can come home ready to keep moving forward. This is one way to prevent caregiver burnout. I truly miss my working days, while accepting those days are currently on hold. I miss human interactions. I acknowledge my focus and passions have happily shifted from the human resources world to the military advocacy world. There are similarities in skill sets between them. Skill sets I’ve enjoyed exploring.
This leads me to how Team Rubicon is making a difference in my life:
- I can share my passion with fellow caregivers.
- Team Rubicon is respite time for me.
- Team Rubicon has meaningful purpose and direction in the skill sets I desire to expand upon.
- In Team Rubicon, there’s a place for just about anyone.
- Team Rubicon isn’t just for caregivers, either. There are benefits for many care recipients as well. First, the TR experience can serve as a bonding time for the caregiver and the care recipient. They don’t always have to participate in trainings, events, or operations together. This promotes individual time. Second, TR is a place for each individual to be him or herself, to have fellow members accept them as they are, while understanding each other with little to no explanation. Third, TR is a way to keep serving our country.
Many caregivers have signed up with TR all over the country because of these benefits while many have found other meaningful reasons to serve. To find personal, purposeful service in one’s life is what so many of us strive for. Team Rubicon is a place that plays a role in finding my identity once more.
I am Jeannette. I am a military caregiver. I am part of a TRibe.