Since I have been a military caregiver, I have been through many stages of trying to manage my caregiving responsibilities along with achieving my own life goals, both professional and personal. Life after the war for us was uncertain and definitely different from the way I had known it as a wife and as a professional. The changes in our lives required tremendous adjustments overall.

I had been an educator before my husband’s return from war, and when I needed to assume responsibility as his caregiver, my career as an educator ended – or at least, I had thought it had. Boy, was I wrong on that! After eight years of hard work and determination and despite many periods of frustration, I have been able to achieve a goal that I thought nearly impossible at times: I have just completed my Doctor of Education (EdD) degree and can call myself Dr. Goodson!

We have experienced a number of enormous setbacks. Nevertheless, and quite importantly, despite what might sound somewhat counter-intuitive, had I not stayed with my husband, focusing on caring for him, and putting aside my career advancement and personal aspirations, I don’t know how far I would have come.

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Stay True To Yourself

To my military caregiver friends, I ask that you be patient, as I had to be when first assuming your role as caregiver. Things will undoubtedly seem hard at first, and you may well, as I did, feel a certain sense of loss as you struggle to find yourself. Like me, and so many other caregivers, you may find yourself in the midst of post-injury uncertain of the future, not knowing what will be next.

There may be setbacks, but please remain hopeful! I am here to bring hope and encourage you to stay positive and push through. Dream again —never lose faith that you can eventually get back in touch with your inner strength and, as one writer stated, “experience triumph after tragedy.” Many military caregivers have transcended expectations of society by reaching incredible milestones. I am but one of many examples of people who have persisted, as hard as times have been, and have achieved a very precious life goal. I am not the first caregiver who has accomplished an enormous personal and professional milestone and certainly will not be the last!

finish line

Also, I want to mention an invaluable resource that might help you achieve your goals: I highly recommend that you look into the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which I was fortunate to have transferred as an eligible dependent, to use to finance my entire doctoral education. Various programs are available under this bill, and you might be eligible for one of them. You can find more information about this incredible education benefit here.

I want to reinforce my strong conviction and belief that each of you who face the inevitable dark times and days that come with invisible and traumatic injuries, and post-war polytrauma, can prevail and build a wonderful, meaningful life. Be kind to yourself, care for yourself, be patient, and know that you, too, can indeed reach your dreams if you focus and stay motivated, so please hang in there and see them through to the end.

Caregivers – as you continue to meet the demands and responsibilities that are associated with caring for someone —never forget that it’s also possible to set and achieve incredible lifelong personal and professional goals! And, if any of you care to share resources that may have helped you to reach a milestone in your life, please post to the comments section below!

 

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