- - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Patti met her husband Ken in the early 1990s when he was transitioning from the Marine Corps to civilian life to serve as a police officer.

It was a job he loved and he excelled in his work, gaining the respect of his community.

Then on September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our nation’s soil changed Ken and Patti’s lives forever.

Ken knew America needed soldiers, so he decided to re-enlist with the Army and was deployed to Iraq in 2006.

During his deployment, 22 members of his unit were killed and in 2007 Ken was gravely injured.

Later he would be awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in battle — severe back and neck injuries, ruptured eardrum, a traumatic brain injury and associated balance disorders.

During Ken’s deployment, Patti had bonded with the wives of the soldiers in his unit, grieving with them when a loved one was lost, and helping injured unit members when they returned home. And they were ready to help her, as she began her journey caring for Ken,diagnosed at 100 percent disability.

In the mix of giving and receiving support during and after her husband’s deployment,

Patti awakened to a calling to help other military spouses find strength among their peers, and connected them to resources and services that support veterans and military caregivers.

When Ken was first recovering,she started a local network dedicated to military families.

As she began to advocate for families who have suffered grief, challenges and personal setbacks as a result of military war injuries, she adopted a mandate — overcoming trials with triumphs — and weaves that into her discussions on military and veteran caregiving, the dangers and warning signs of military suicide, traumatic brain injury, PTSD and other challenges that military veterans and their families face.

Since 2007, Patti has volunteered with three different organizations that help veterans transition from military to civilian life and now is the military and veteran caregiver program coordinator at Hope for the Warriors.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Patti hopes to encourage caregivers to reach out for help, whether they’re new to their role or have been providing care for many years. In that gesture, she believes, is the opportunity for caregivers to help themselves, and also support others in their journey of healing and caregiving.

Although her husband is medically retired from the military, they continue to live and demonstrate the values they ascribe to being a military family — strength, courage and resilience.

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