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Retired Navy Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Adrian Mohammed (left) poses with military adaptive sports athlete during the 2016 Warrior Games Pacific Trials in Hawaii.
Spouses who become caregivers often take time to remember what their married lives were like before their spouse suffered a serious wound, illness or injury. However, Grace Mohammed doesn’t recall what life was like with her spouse prior to his injury; she hadn’t met him yet. Retired Navy Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Adrian Mohammed was medically retired after sustaining a visual impairment, traumatic brain injury and several other injuries in 2004. Meanwhile, Grace was on track to complete her doctorate in counseling and start a non-profit organization with some of her classmates. Then she met Adrian. The two would marry in June 2015, settling in Oconomowoc, Wisc., and life for Grace changed instantly as she became a caregiver to her new husband.
“I was trying to do everything I was doing before and trying to adjust to being married,” said Grace. “I was never in the military life and didn’t know what was available, and didn’t really have anyone in our area who had been through this before. So, it kind of felt like I was floating on my own.”
Though adjusting to married life as a caregiver proved to be challenging, Grace eventually found support and resources through Navy Wounded Warrior - Safe Harbor
(NWW). NWW, which coordinates the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured sailors and Coast Guardsmen, and provides resources and support to their families, introduced Grace and Adrian to a life-changing program, the Military Adaptive Sports Program
“It’s been amazing,” said Grace. “I think MASP boosted his confidence so much. It’s given him something to do. He’s excited about this. He wants to train; so, we go to the gym.”
MASP provides reconditioning activities and competitive athletic opportunities to wounded, ill and injured service members to improve their physical and mental quality of life throughout the continuum of recovery and transition. Through Adrian’s participation in MASP, he and Grace were invited to participate in the Navy’s 2016 DoD Warrior Games Trials hosted at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman, Hawaii.
“The camaraderie with the other team members is incredible and he’s meeting people who’ve been through what he’s been through in combat,” said Grace. “He sees that they can talk about it and they’re okay. So, he’s realizing that he can work through the post-traumatic stress disorder and there’s a life, a full happy life, on the other side.”
The trials would prove to be not only impactful for Adrian, but also for Grace.
“Through adaptive sports I got to know a few of the other caregivers,” said Grace. “Being in this setting has helped us have conversations about how I can help him and learn how to read when he needs me or when he’s good.”
At the trials, Grace was introduced to the Military Caregiver PEER Forums
, which utilizes Military Family Life Counselors to organize and conduct forums that provide opportunities for military caregivers to converse with their peers, discuss resources, and share best practices in a confidential, non-medical setting.
“I feel like I’m always looking to meet other caregivers, especially wives because they know what I’m going through,” said Grace. “I welcome any opportunity to meet other caregivers and get to talk and learn more about what’s available.”
Grace also values making time for herself. According to Grace, balance is the key to maintaining a successful relationship while also caring for your loved one.
“I think it’s so important,” said Grace. “I have a master’s in counseling and that was something they taught us, that you need to make time for yourself or you’re going to burn out. So, I have my self-care night. I’ll do my nails while watching a TV show.”
Grace’s advice for those who are new to their role as a caregiver: “Get support. Don’t be afraid to go to counseling. And, try to seek out other caregivers for support and friendship. You need to have balance. You’re going to burn out otherwise. You have to be more than just a wife, just a caregiver. You need to have a life outside of it too.”
Military Caregiver Resources:
Discover information and resources for Military Caregivers, learn about PEER forums and download the latest copy of the Caregiver Resource Directory.