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A New Beginning All Over Again

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It was a bright and warm morning in early May 2009. Many families gathered in an hangar at Fort Bliss, TX, for the farewell of the 1st Armored Division Soldiers getting ready for a new deployment to Iraq. One of these Soldiers was my wonderful and loving husband, at the time staff sergeant (SSG) Victor Medina. Before leaving, he ran to me three times for a last hug and kiss. I will never forget that memory and how it felt. 
Some weeks later on May 29th we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Victor always made me feel so special and important in his life, and this time was no different. It was the fourth time we celebrated our anniversary apart and as always, he didn’t forget and planned ahead to make sure it was special. Little did we know we were a month away from experiencing a life detour, the biggest test of our love and lives, all in a click of a button.
On June 29, 2009 during a patrol mission, Victor’s MRAP was hit by an explosive formed projectile, one of the deadliest forms…

A Journey of Grace and Love

In 2009 when my sweet husband Victor was medevac’d from Iraq I anticipated a challenging road, but what I didn't envisioned was how much grace it will bring to our lives in this very successful healing journey. The set of expectations, demands and responsibilities sometimes felt too much to bear.  The amount of commitment, love and acceptance for my husband and myself as we walked this path defined the healing in this home. Walking the path of this unexpected journey were met by a number of disappointments, but nothing compares to the joy of small victories and triumphs along the way. While walking this new unsolicited path, and experiencing a "life detour", some things are important to be identified and never taken for granted: 1.New relationships: perhaps noticing those family members you encounter in the hospital or rehabilitation center waiting room or in the hallway. They may become your new extended family, the ones you can count on. 2.Perseverance: remembering that …

5 Things to Consider When Caring for a Loved One with TBI

When my loved one has a Traumatic Brain Injury. How to better support him/her without forgetting who I am?The person with TBI may be vulnerable, so try to assist in the decision-making process without erring in continually making decisions for your loved one. This will help in keeping a sense of independence and autonomy.Confusion, forgetfulness, and even lack of motivation may be factors that influence the degree this person engages with other people and activities. Don’t blame them, but try to use strategies to better engage this person in a safe and healthy environment.Don’t blame ALL circumstances to the TBI. TBI is NOT responsible for every little behavior. Personal responsibility and accountability are very important and it may be applied to a person with a TBI in a case by case basis.Individuals with a TBI have goals, dreams and hopes. Engaging in positive discussions of how to achieve these goals is important, keeping in mind that your availability as a caregiver needs to cons…

March: Brain Injury Awareness Month

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been defined as a signature wound of war. What many people don’t realize is that TBI is a leading cause of injury-related death and disability in the United States. In 2010, as many as 2.5 million people sustained a TBI resulting in emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, or deaths 1. TBI doesn’t discriminate by age, race, sex, ethnicity or education. It can happen to anyone. Some groups may be at a higher risk of sustaining a TBI. That is the main reason why, when we discuss this topic, we tend to think of the military and veterans. National data doesn’t include the approximate 357K TBIs reported among service members and veterans. This number sounds alarming, but even more alarming is the coexistence or comorbidities of other conditions resulting from the exposure to war, like posttraumatic stress (PTS) and chronic pain. Without proper rehabilitation, this cluster of conditions make it even worse for the person to perform well in their d…

Anniversary

On May 29, 2009 it was my husband's and my 9th wedding anniversary. Little did I know that a month later, on June 29, 2009 our lives would change. June 29, 2009, I received the call from the Department of teh Army informing me that my husband was wounded. He sustained a traumatic brain injury while on patrol in Iraq. Now, 4 years later I still remember that day so clearly. That day my heart sank, I thought I lost the person I loved and I thought it was the end, but I was mistaken, my dear husband came back to me. My husband returned physically but cognitively he was a different man. He had to learn how to live with impairments he didn't have, and he had to learn how to start a new life: one that has certainly marked our paths forever. During these 4 years we have the priviledge of meeting the most wonderful people we could ever imagined (selfless, compassionate and dedicated), we loved each other more than ever, we have accomplished things that we never envisioned, and most …

Hearts of Valor Retreat

This past weekend I spent three days sharing with families of Wounded Warriors. One have to believe that they are the strongest women on Earth and that is what we hear constantly from people who support military families. As I do some reflection exercise about this weekend, I cannot avoid but to think of the various backgrounds, the variety of flavors in culture, professions, passion and military branches these women represented. Despite this variety there is one thing that really stands out; we are one family, we see pass our differences and we become more similar than ever. God has allowed me to speak to these spouses and the opportunity that Hearts of Valor provided, was difficult to put a value to it, because there is a wealth of experiences lived during this weekend; there is nothing that can pay for such wonderful memories. It is my hope that each of the spouses and mothers that attended the retreat were able to see this event was coordinated with sacrifice, love and commitment …

New Year!

Hi friends, I hope that when you read this post you are enjoying life like it should be and undisputedly we all should strive for. Sometimes we let our life conform to the shape of our circumstances. Just imagine if the clay is not well work by the artist, then the vase would never have the intended form.  I always tell people that I live my life to the fullest and I do not let my past or current situations define who I am, but I will learn from the purpose of each one of them. That said, I want you know that my husband is improving significantly, not because his impairments resolved but because everyday he is learning and striving to manage everything in a way that he can fulfill his goals.

As a caregiver of a Soldier with traumatic brain injury for the past three and a half years I can say, I have walked in various paths that were unexpected. I wasn't ready, I never envisioned this new life but this new life have brought one of the most meaningful experiences, the opportunity to…