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The Meaning of Service: Caring For A Disabled Veteran

Brooke Phillips, CWCMS
Editor | Shield HealthCare
05/08/15  8:00 AM PST
Caring for a disabled veteran

Caregiver Story Spotlight | 2013 Shield HealthCare “What Makes Caregiving Rewarding?” Story Contest

“My name is Margarita, and being a licensed caregiver supporting people with special needs has given me everlasting inspiration and has blessed me with lifetime full of challenges and rewards. My husband is a disabled war veteran that suffered a traumatic injury while on duty actively serving this nation. His injury resulted in him becoming an above-the-knee amputee, double compound wound to his left arm, and has led to severe nerve damage to hands and arms. Being a caregiver is no easy role, but the reward of care, kindness, dignity, love, smiles, laughs, and friendships are worth everything at the end of the day. I work with an astounding company, TERI Inc. located in Southern California, as a caregiver. I never thought there would be a day my profession as a caregiver would ever hit so close to home, but it did. I have always cared for people with special needs and I was blessed to have learned these skills as a professional caregiver.

As I sat in ICU for more than two weeks, not knowing if he would survive the trauma, then handling the hard news of the amputation, and initially not knowing the turnaround for my husband’s recovery, I was faced with emotional, physical, and spiritual pain. When the time came to become a full-time caregiver at home, I realized that in our journey of life we never know what will happen next in our lives. I thought caregiving was just about giving care to others who needed it, but it’s the opposite. It’s about others who need care giving us endless courage in return. We as individuals must evaluate who we are and how we would we want to be treated if it were you or me.

Being a caregiver has been greatly rewarding, and one of the great things I learned is that I’m not alone. There are others just like me, who also love and care for loved ones. I learned to network and use the resources around me to help me be a better caregiver and wife. I learned to be a voice of advocacy to ensure that the people that I hold dear to my heart have all the services they need, and to see the progress they make is as rewarding to me as it is to my patients. The hardest part of being a caregiver is forgetting to care for ourselves. I used to have a hard time making fitness a part of my lifestyle, but then I watched my husband run a mile with a prosthetic running leg, hand cycle two 26-mile marathons, and ski with one leg. In my profession as a caregiver I’ve sat next to an individual that has resided in one of the TERI homes go through dialysis three times a week for four hours and another patient of ours fight breast cancer, and still hold a smile on her face, even after chemo.  A mile is an inspirational moment, no matter how long it takes me to accomplish. I’ll run it with a smile because I value what I’ve learned and the strength I have gained through my patients and most importantly, my husband. Being a caregiver has taught me to inspire myself to become a better individual.”

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