Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Virginia Peacock was so very tired. The journey she began with her husband, David, a combat flight medic wounded in Afghanistan, went from caring for a shoulder injury to coping with the invisible, unpredictable and little understood wounds of PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

David’s symptoms — memory lapses, fatigue, balance dysfunctions and suicidal thoughts — surfaced over time and it wasn’t until well after he had returned home that he was diagnosed with a brain injury.

Virginia relentlessly fought to get treatments for her husband, made more difficult by the delayed discovery.

She waded deep into the vast VA system to obtain earned benefits and compensation, and pushed hard on her husband to find his inner strength and best self.

Along the way, dark thoughts began to surface in Virginia’s own mind. It had all become so exhausting and so overwhelming that she wondered if there were any reasons to go on.

Although she had done everything she could to counter David’s thoughts of self-harm, here she was facing similar ideations.

Most troubling of all were the signs that David’s injuries and her anxiety were starting to negatively affect their son.

What pulled her back, said Virginia, was a wonderful Caregiver Coordinator with the VA caregiver program, who found VA counselors to help her.

As she gained more stability, her boss from her job as a psychiatric and pediatric nurse that she had been forced to leave to care for David offered her a position with a flexible schedule.

Virginia believes that leaving that job, and the connectivity it provided, had affected her mentally and physically. Reuniting with her work, she felt less isolated as a caregiver and felt more joy — she had always loved providing pediatric care.

In her role as a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Virginia hopes to shed more light on the mental health issues faced by caregivers and their families, especially children, who are reportedly experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression. She strongly desires to find ways to help the entire wounded warrior community heal.

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