Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
Jennifer Dever, an Air Force spouse, has been married to her Soldier for three and-a-half years. Currently, they are stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, in Texas, but they will be PCSing to Germany to begin at their new station in August.
Jennifer’s favorite part of being a military spouse is the opportunity that she… has been afforded to move around the globe and experience new cultures and different people. She says, “It really makes you appreciate what you have and opens your eyes to what you may have taken for granted.” Jennifer also loves the huge extended family that comes with being in the military. “Living overseas, it is hard to get home for most people and having that sense of family is very important for the entire military family,” Jennifer says. “My favorite memories that I have thus far of being in the military are all the BBQ’s and holiday parties we have hosted / went to.”
If she could go back and give herself one piece of advice before becoming a military spouse, Jennifer said to not let other people dictate your happiness. Put yourself first. “I went through a dark period at our last base where I was putting myself last and instead, I put so much of my energy into everyone else. It only made things worse. Once we were able to move I made it a point to focus on “me” and what I needed to be happy. When I made that shift in focus it seemed like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I have never felt better or stronger than I have right now because I am taking charge of my own happiness!”
Jennifer is an adult with disabilities. But she doesn’t let that stop her! She says, “I look at this condition not as something that defines me but more as motivation to push harder to make the most of what I have.” Jennifer’s condition can cause joint deterioration, so it is really important for her to stay physically active. She says she “wants to prove her doctors’ wrong when they said I would need a cane by the age of 30,” and she is currently working with her husband to train for a 5k race.
Jennifer explains that there are very limited community resources and services available for adults/spouses with disabilities. It is frustrating for her that special needs within the military system are more focused around children with disabilities, and not for qualifying individuals. She does advocate whole-heartedly for the Exceptional Family Member Program, which helps individuals have access to those services that that are needed to stay healthy. Unfortunately, Jennifer says, “There was another spouse at our last unit with the same condition as me that ended up hospitalized because she was too scared of the stigmata placed on spouses who are in the EFM program. She stopped her meds and didn’t want to go see her Doctor because she was too scared. I believe that no family member should have to suffer like that because of the lack of information or the misinformation that they receive.”
The Military Special Needs Network honors and salutes Jennifer Dever as the Military Spouse of the Day! We thank you for being such a wonderful military spouse and an amazing advocate for special needs!
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