Precious at Lt. Dan Weekend, Palm Key, SC

What seems like an eternity ago—2010—my husband was injured in Afghanistan. Life as we had known it changed in an instant… Overnight, my daily activities as a wife, graduate student, and teacher changed. I was suddenly thrust into the role of full-time caregiver for my husband. A wife and caregiver at the same time—whew! I was unprepared. I was confused, scared, overwhelmed. The road ahead seemed entirely uncertain. How was I going to manage? How were we going to go forward?

Many of you have even more roles to add to caregiver: spouse, parent, full-time employee. I don’t know how you do it all—many blessings to those of you who do! Each role places heavy demands on you, and you may still have many days that they all weigh very heavily on you. How could they not? You undoubtedly experienced the same mixed bag of feelings as I did on first taking on my caregiver role but, I hope, have found ways to navigate on a daily basis since then. This is very much a shared experience, and one I hope we can all learn from.

As a Christian, teacher, and devoted wife to my husband of 16 years, I chose to leave all things familiar in order to be with him through his recovery. My caregiving activities take up most of my time. These include advocating for my husband, setting up and going to his medical appointments, managing his medications, talking with doctors and social workers, and the list goes on. But, as I’ve settled into a very different life from the one my husband and I once knew, I’ve gradually returned to some familiar activities and taken on new ones. It’s truly been a learning experience!

One of my most meaningful activities for the past year and a half has been to serve as a Caregiver Dole Fellow with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, representing Florida. In this role, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to meet and advocate for other military caregivers, and to help look at critical issues, needs and recommendations for military caregivers.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation commissioned the Rand Corporation to conduct research about our under-served population. Results of the RAND Corporation’s 2014 study Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers reports critical issues that military caregivers face. It further documents that there are 5.5 million military caregivers nationwide! The findings of the study prove that there are many military caregivers with similar needs and that face similar issues— issues like facing challenges of finding employment with employers who provide necessary support and flexibility. Or facing the need to juggle full-time work outside the home while caring for a loved one.

preciousgoodson

Precious, Lt. Dan Weekend sponsored by Independence Fund, Palm Key, SC

I, like many of you, chose to take on a caregiver role to be with my loved one through his recovery. I, like many of you, don’t know what my husband and I will face on the road ahead, but I’m ready and willing to take on this new life and challenge with him. My husband and I have started on our way to creating our new normal life together, as individuals and as a couple. Together, we are learning how to establish new routines, set new goals, dream new dreams. My firm belief is that no one understands the plight of another like those who undergo the same or similar experiences. Caregivers we must remember —we are not alone.

 

Precious Goodson

Precious Goodson, Fresh Catch, Operation Heal Our Patriots, Alaska

20 Other Interesting Things About Me

1. My name really is Precious (but, some folks just call me Presh).

2. I was born in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville, FL. (30+ years later my husband gets his care in the same hospital … go figure:0)

3. I was raised in Atlanta, GA. (30+ years later, my husband and I move from Atlanta to Jacksonville, and we now both get care in the same hospital where I was born!!)

4. I love finding the best deals and will search for days (online and offline) to get the best discount! Love to get those BBB coupons—you know?!

5. I played the violin for 10 years until I was 14, when I started to focus on my singing. Now I am learning to play the piano.

6. The first college I ever attended was on a music scholarship.

7. I love music, especially Jazz and Christian. Some of my favorite artists are Phil Driskel and CeeCee Winans.

8. I am a Christian.

9. I’m not working on my doctorate degree right now. Interested in doing other things like serving my community as a Caregiver Dole Fellow with Elizabeth Dole Foundation and with Military Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN)!

10. I went on many cross-country trips with my family as a child, including Canada and the Grand Canyon. (Can relate to Chevy Chase’s Family Vacation—riding in the station wagon and all!)

11. I used to be a public school teacher (God bless all teachers!!!)

12. I lost 40 pounds when my husband deployed to Afghanistan. Went from a size 20 to size 6! Life happened and so did the weight gain – Gained most of it all back in six years:0

13. Exercise and eating right are both dropped habits in my life. (But I’m gonna pick them back up!)

14. I have been writing a book for military spouses/military caregivers for the past six years!

15. Spinach is my favorite food. My favorite way to eat it is with melted cheese and butter.(Feta, mozzarella, I really don’t care what kind!)

16. My husband and I have been married 16 years—together 18 years!! He is the best husband a lady could ever ask for!

17. My husband has a service dog named Duncan, who also serves as my therapy dog. (NO, being both a therapy dog and a service dog does NOT confuse him!)

18. Last year, I published an editorial in the Florida Times Union, and published an article, “Sacrifices of Military Caregivers” in the Washington Times.

19. I once organized a retreat for military caregivers in Palm Key, SC.

20. I am an administrator at heart: A total “what-is-the-procedure” girl.

 

 

 

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