Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
Introducing Jennifer Chatwin, a Coast Guard spouse, married to her husband Nathan for 7 ½ years. They have two children – Kailey and Dylan, and are currently stationed in Connecticut.
What Jen likes the most about being a military wife is the built-in community. When her children were born, they were diagnosed with different genetic conditions. They had just arrived to Cape May and Jen didn’t have an opportunity to branch out and meet fellow spouses. Turns out – she didn’t have to! She tells us that the whole Coast Guard community rallied around them and brought a lot of comfort knowing they weren’t alone on the road ahead.
Jen’s husband’s chain of command has always put an emphasis on family and made it possible for Nathan to be in the NICU, attended surgeries and even allowed temporary orders so he could be closer to the hospital throughout their daughter’s brain surgeries and the complicated recovery that followed. Jen says, “Now that our kids are older and more stable, I make sure to pay it forward as other families enter the community with their own unique needs, and we participate in baby showers for people we have yet to meet, food trains for fellow families facing difficulties, fund raising, and many other things.”
“Being a special needs parent means celebrating every milestone, no matter how significant it may seem to the outside world, and appreciating the quiet moments between the chaos,” Jen says. When asked what advice she would give other special needs families, she says, “Never stop fighting for their best life, whatever that means to you and your family. You are your child’s best advocate – you are the only expert(s) on your child. Get a 2nd, 4th or 30th opinion until you feel like your concerns are heard, needs are met and are comfortable with the plan for treatment, education or care.”
The Military Special Needs Network honors and salutes Staci Nevell as the Military Spouse of the Day! We thank you for being such a wonderful military spouse and advocate.
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