Emery and Charlie Popoloski began confronting Charlie’s combat injuries while he was still on active duty.
After eight years in the Army and two deployments to Iraq, Charlie had sustained a traumatic brain injury with accompanying seizures, PTSD, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, memory problems and other medical issues.
An EEG and other medical tests eventually validated what Emery and Charlie knew to be true, and Charlie received an honorable discharge from the Army.
For the past three years, Emery has helped her husband cope with his injuries and symptoms.
She has to be vigilant about his safety because of his memory problems, but she tries to follow the advice of their healthcare providers by “allowing” him to remember things before stepping in to remind him.
In family matters, including being parents to two young daughters, she tries to give Charlie a sense of partnership by including him in the decision making, although she knows she ultimately has to check that everything gets done.
Faced with the need to provide income while also worried about leaving Charlie home alone,
Emery was forced to give up her career path in legal affairs and start over with a home-based business in real estate. She realizes it would be impossible to work without a supportive employer and a flexible schedule, which is one message she shares as a Dole Caregiver Fellow.
Earlier this year, Emery had the chance to discuss her caregiving experience one-on-one with U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald.
She authors a regular blog on military and veteran caregiver issues with the Washington Times. And Emery now manages the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Hidden Heroes online community, a virtual place where she and other caregivers can share resources and support.
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