Military Friendship Stories

Tina Caviness, Director of CompeerCORPS:

“I have a family that truly is a success story. When I met Christine she told me her relationship is falling apart.”

Christine didn’t even know if they were going to make it. With a small child together at home she tried everything, she did some research and came across Operation Family Caregiver. We talked on the phone and set a time and date to meet. We went out to dinner and met for the first time to talk about the program and how to get enrolled. Christine felt like a ton of bricks were lifted of her shoulders just by venting and talking with the OFC coach. We were able to come up with some problem solving skills like taking walks. One of the things she talked about was that her and her veteran always used to take walks together as a family. We talked for awhile and she was able to identify that this would help her and her family.  Christine also identified she needed to take care of herself and had to make sure she set some time to herself so she could relax and distress for the day.

I was also able to give Christine some resources to help strengthen the family unit.  She was able to connect with other caregivers in the area hosted by Operation Family Caregiver to gain extra support. When Christine completed the program her and her veteran told me that OFC saved their relationship. They’re engaged and are planning their wedding.

Theresa’s Story:

“My name is Theresa, and I joined OFC about a year ago.  My vet and I have been together for 4 years now, but have known each other very well since age 5.  The first few years were crisis upon crisis, no-stop.  Both my vet and I suffer from ADHD and PTSD, among other physical and mental ailments.  I went through a rough pregnancy, and we even considered giving our baby up for adoption at one point for many personal issues we were having.  We met my veteran’s father for the first time (who sought my vet out on facebook after 26 years of searching for him).  His dad convinced us to keep our child, so we did.

Shortly after her birth, I uncovered an affair my vet had been having for 2 months.  I felt like my world was going to end at that point in life.  After some separation time, he asked for forgiveness and claimed he needed help and wanted us to get therapy together.  I thought long and hard and gave him that chance. We both started getting VA counseling for couples.  This laid the foundation, but not enough to help get us where we were needing to go in our relationship together and as new parents. We moved 3 times, opened up our home to a vet friend that needed a temporary place to stay, our daughter was getting into her toddler years, I was still working full-time, etc—the list goes on. We over-extended ourselves and got extremely wore out and stressed. Our relationship was starting to spiral back down again. After many nights of arguing, crying, and anxiety attacks, I marched myself into the VA and asked if there were any other programs like workshops or retreats for vet couples to help them gain more knowledge and skills of how to handle the issues we were having. I was guided to reach out to Daniel Ratka, who was with Compeer at the time, who then led me to Operation Family Caregiver. This was a program specifically designed for military caregivers and spouses, such as myself.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to contact them right away. I was promptly connected with Operation Family Caregiver, and I met my new coach, Tina.  From that point, she helped get me connected to a plethora of veterans/family resources. I took advantage of as many opportunities that I could to help better my little family’s situation. Through these resources and Tina’s coaching, I was able to learn and grow with newfound knowledge of my veteran and his sufferings, particularly his service connected disabilities. My new understanding of him, lowered his guard toward me, and he began opening up more and more to me.  Our relationship started blossoming like never before!  I still continue to learn as much as I can.  I have grown to know myself better as well.  Our daughter is certainly benefiting from our growth together.  This past Easter 2015, my vet proposed to me! Thank you OFC for all your help and services that led us to where we are now!”