The Call Every Military Family Dreads
December 22, 2021, began like any other day for Angelica, a military spouse and mother to a brand-new baby boy. As she was preparing to celebrate their first holiday together, she received a call from her husband Dennis.
While deployed in Romania Dennis had suffered seizures and was being transferred to Germany for further examination. After several tests and scans, the doctors found a mass on his brain and transferred him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Walter Reed) in Bethesda, Maryland. Angelica dropped everything to be by his side, leaving her home, family and job behind in Texas.
Along with her mother, Angelica boarded what felt like the longest flight of her life with her three-month-old son to meet Dennis in Maryland. At Walter Reed, Dennis underwent several scans, tests, and other invasive tests. During his hours-long brain surgery, the doctors removed 80% of the tumor, but unfortunately, his diagnosis was cancer.
The Struggle Facing an Ill Military Service Member and Their Family
His treatment plan, included radiation and chemotherapy and Angelica found herself in the daunting role of caregiver in addition to military spouse and new mother. She had to navigate Dennis’ treatment schedule and find resources and organizations to help her family. While the military supports service members, its resources for family caregivers leave gaps that must be filled.
She worked tirelessly to find help, but soon realized that her family would be in Bethesda for the foreseeable future. She knew she needed to full-time lodging and transportation for her family while Dennis received treatment at Walter Reed.
Angelica’s case manager at Walter Reed introduced her to Yellow Ribbon Fund, a national nonprofit offering support and resources from hospital to hometown. Through Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Crossroads Program, Angelica received the use of a car to help Angelica with transportation, especially to bring Dennis back and forth from the hospital.
Finally, in May, after living apart from her son, Angelica’s family was able to move into one of Yellow Ribbon Fund’s fully furnished apartments. Now she and Dennis spend valuable time doing things they love, like playing with their son and cooking together.
With 1.8 million veterans nationwide with some degree of disability, Dennis is not alone in his struggle, and neither is Angelica. There are 5.5 million military caregivers across the country. National nonprofits, such as Yellow Ribbon Fund, provide various programs and resources for families just like Angelica’s.
The care doesn’t stop at the hospital, because when Angelica returns home to Texas, she will have a supportive group of caregivers and families ready to welcome and support them through the Yellow Ribbon Fund Keystone Program.
Yellow Ribbon Fund is a small nonprofit organization that provides urgent support to military families like Dennis and Angelica’s. Yellow Ribbon Fund has supported more than 30,000 military families who have their own stories of injury and illness. We do so with help from individual and business donors and organizations.