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“You Gotta Have Support!” Wife Becomes Caregiver to Wounded Warrior

Maj. Crystal Boring, Communications Director, U.S. Army Soldier for Life Program

“We never talked about it being anyone else,” said Christie Hicks, of adding “caregiver” to her role as wife to then-Col. Kevin Hicks.

She was unconcerned when in April 2012 she received a phone call from her husband who at the time was stationed in Afghanistan. He had just two weeks left of his year-long deployment, and they were planning their move to Stuttgart, Germany, where he would be stationed next. He did not call to discuss their new house though. He called to tell her that he had been shot five times and was being medically evacuated out of theater.

Hicks immediately left her home in Pennsylvania to meet her husband at Andrews Air Force Base. They flew together to Fort Bragg, where he would stay for two weeks before ultimately joining the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

She realized right away that she would need specific supplies to help her in her new role as caregiver. “A million people tell you different things,” she said. “The first thing I did was buy a notebook. I would write the date, time and who told me what.”

Hicks also noticed that getting out of bed helped her husband, and many other wounded, ill and injured Soldiers recovering by his side. “At Walter Reed there are lots of opportunities to get your Soldier up and out: things like baseball games, concerts.”

The WTU cares for caregivers, and Hicks recognized that she needed support too. “The WTU helped me find a place to stay near Fort Bragg,” she said. “It’s not only for Soldiers. There are special activities for caregivers and career counseling so you can start thinking about your next step.”

One year later, Col. Hicks returned to active duty. He retired from the Army in 2014, after 28 years of service. Mrs. Hicks, a web designer by trade, is using the GI Bill to pursue her education, taking classes in graphic design.

Embracing the Soldier for Life mentality, both the Hicks continue to serve, volunteering with wounded warriors and helping Families of newly injured Soldiers. “We are totally into adaptive sports,” Christie Hicks said. “We transitioned from being participants to the facilitators.”

Hicks’ advice for those who are new to their role as caregiver: “You gotta have support!” Lean on Family, friends and the WTU. “Use those support networks, they’re there!”