- - Monday, May 18, 2015

The tack Melissa’s life has taken since her husband’s injuries caused her to question her relationship with God.

Her role as a caregiver has presented so many challenges that sometimes she feels God has forgotten her. Life for Melissa and her family changed drastically and continues to change every single day

Her husband Stephen served for thirteen years in multiple combat deployments, resulting in myriad health issues — PTSD, traumatic brain injury, chronic sprains in all major joints, osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. One of Melissa’s biggest challenges is balancing Stephen’s needs with those of their six year old child, as well as her own. Spending 90 percent of her day as Stephen’s caregiver means there’s not much left after preparing meals, managing medications, monitoring behavioral changes, and watching for the clues she knows can precipitate a stressful event. Sometimes she must talk him down from the anxiety that surfaces, while other difficult moments require her to help calm the anger that can result from heart-pounding flashbacks. She does her best to anticipate and remove him from trigger situations.

Melissa’s wish list of support for her difficult days includes childcare for her son, cleaning services and food delivery. She is dedicated to her family and their future, but Melissa is fully aware that she like so many other caregivers will be tending to their loved one’s needs for decades to come.

In her role as an Elizabeth Dole Fellow, Melissa values the opportunity to share her story, to help build awareness and a better environment for both caregivers and veterans. She uses her own experiences to connect with other caregivers who may also feel alone in their role.

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