JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --
Is there a person who can work full time, take care of house and home, take care of children, take care of their spouse who suffers from a wound, illness or injury…and be successful in it all? Yes, these people do exist, and they make up our Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Caregiver Program.
There is nothing easy about being a caregiver. Some days you put your needs aside to ensure the family, and your warrior, are fully taken care of. Some days you put your needs first to make sure your mental health is strong enough to handle the load of meeting others’ needs. Balance is key for being successful in all obstacles of life.
“Being a caregiver is difficult. I work full-time and we have a 10-year-old son,” said Sonia O’Neil, AFW2 Caregiver. “The time for myself comes around bedtime.”
Sonia was introduced to the Caregiver program about five years ago after her husband was enrolled into AFW2 for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other injuries sustained from a deployment.
“I only knew my husband for six months before getting married, and then he was deployed shortly after to Afghanistan,” Sonia said. “Upon his return, the communication between us was minimum and I was triggering him without even knowing it.”
Although times were tough at first, Sonia has now been introduced to tools, resources and techniques to help cope with stressful days and remind her to take care of her mental health so that she can be there for her family.
“Before being enrolled in the Caregiver program, we were on the verge of divorce and I was constantly walking on eggshells,” Sonia said. “I now have more patience; I am more understanding and have a better listening ear. I am able to notice when my husband is having a moment, communicate with him and we work through it together.”
Those enrolled in the Caregiver Program get to attend workshops, learn new resiliency techniques and strategies, have an open community of members going through the same thing and have a safe place to release their negative energy and bad days. You are not alone.
“I wish I had known about the Caregiver Program sooner. I have learned that not everything has to be perfect and to not try and work through this along,” Sonia said. “Your mental health is important and don’t try to work through this on your own. We are here for you.”
May is Month of the Military Caregiver. Do not forget to show them extra attention, give them extra breaks and always remind them of how much they mean to you and your family. They are the true foundation of the new journeys ahead.