- - Sunday, June 7, 2015

Precious Goodson, like many military caregivers, had to make a decision most people will never have to make — to retreat from the world they know and enter a totally different environment, leaving behind most everything familiar that brought comfort and balance to their lives.

For Precious, the decision became necessary when she could no longer juggle full-time caregiving for her service-injured husband, Leonard, and work outside the home.

The time required to care for Leonard quickly outpaced the Family Medical Leave benefit her employer granted when Leonard first started his recovery. While she tried to find some flexibility to hold onto her job, ultimately Precious had to quit her 10-year teaching career and take early retirement.

Although she could now devote all of her attention to Leonard, the income loss was extremely difficult for them, and her new circumstances isolated her from her professional colleagues, an unanticipated reason to feel more stressed.

She was overwhelmed by the sense of loss and a new life without any familiar outside activities.

Precious’ role changed from being the teacher to being the student, learning to manage her husband’s medical needs and advocate for his treatment and care.

Leonard was medically retired from the Army with 16 years of active duty service and tours in Desert Storm and OEF.

He had returned from Afghanistan with severe cervical spine and lumbar injuries and was later diagnosed with severe and chronic PTSD, along with other physical and mental conditions. His needs vary day-to-day and some days he requires hospitalization.

The PTSD can cause extreme mood swings and rage, so Precious must always be alert to stressors in his environment that might trigger an emotional response.

A firm believer in the importance of education,

Precious has managed to squeeze in the time to work toward a doctorate in distance education while still searching for flexible work opportunities that would provide a meaningful, professional career and a stable income.

Working with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation as a Dole Caregiver Fellow gives Precious the opportunity to raise awareness about the financial, mental and physical challenges military caregivers face that are too often hidden from view, leaving many caregivers without income and support.

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