The Caregiver’s Journey


Hello. My name is Alan Willis. I’m a social worker who’s been working with caregivers of patients with traumatic brain injury for many years. Learning to be a caregiver can be an uncertain and sometimes difficult journey because recovery from TBI can be unpredictable. Recovery is a very individual process for the caregiver and those injured. Some patients will experience very few long-term effects, but others may face challenges for the rest of their lives. Coping with uncertainty is just one of the challenges that caregivers often experience.

This program, The Caregiver’s Journey, is designed to help you, as a caregiver, to understand your incredibly important role in your service member’s or veteran’s recovery. In these sessions, I’ll be guiding caregivers just like you through some of the challenges that those recovering from TBI often face, and discussing how caregivers can help deal with managing or overcoming these challenges. We’ll also explore helpful tips on how to get organized, how to become an advocate, and ways to take care of yourself while you’re caring for someone recovering from a TBI.

Let me introduce you to the three families I’ll be talking to over the course of this program.

Scott and Gillian Mahoney are caregivers for their son, Reid, who suffered a severe TBI when a drunk driver hit his motorcycle. Reid was in a coma until recently, so Scott and Gillian are at the beginning of their journey. Reid is also a single parent with a young son. Scott and Gillian have had to assume responsibility for Reid’s son, Axel, in addition to being Reid’s caregivers.

Cullen Mansfield is the primary caregiver for his brother, Evan, who received multiple injuries, including severe TBI, from an IED explosion while he was serving in Afghanistan. I’ve asked Cullen to join me to share some of what’s worked for him and Evan since they’ve been doing this a while.

Kara Bassett is the caregiver for her husband, Brock, who was injured during a military training exercise. Their daughter, Addie, is a big help to both her parents, so she’ll be joining me as well.

Whether one’s recovery takes weeks, months, or years, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are always places you can turn for emotional support and practical assistance.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Let’s get started.