My husband joined the Army straight from high school, and served our great country for 24 years. When others thank him for his sacrifice, his answer is always, “It was never a sacrifice. I was doing what I loved. It was my family that made the sacrifice.” Many are shocked by his response, those that know him well aren’t surprised. He dedicated his life to his country and motivating his troops to being the best soldiers they could be.
Deciding that he was no longer deployable after injuries in Iraq, my hero was given his walking papers and stripped of his entire life’s work (almost). We were a year and a half shy of Jeff reaching his full retirement when the letter came. The letter said that he was “unfit for duty” and that our family would lose our entire benefits including medical insurance and retirement. At the moment he was handed the certified letter, our realtor was shoving the for sale sign in front of our dream home. Fortunately, as he was already receiving treatment for his injuries, my husband was able to fight for his insurance and received a medical retirement. Sadly, our financial struggle would begin, as he was not allowed to make it through the year to reach his full retirement date to include his retirement pay.
The next three years were a nightmare. We lost our home, our income, and most importantly the uniform. My husband’s health continued to decline rapidly, and the doctors informed us that there was nothing that could be done. We advocated for his care, and outside specialists discovered that a failed surgery to repair spine injuries in Iraq had caused metallosis, and his body had turned septic. We caught this in time to remove the damage, and while the pain still governs his days, we are thankful to have caught the metallosis. As with so many soldiers, PTSD became a constant battle, becoming even more severe without the benefit of his unit, mission, and daily schedule. Along with us both learning as much as possible about managing his pain and PTSD, we found our peace in God, and our faith guides us through each day.
Had I not made the decision to pursue a path to entrepreneurship that allowed me to work from home, my husband would likely not be here today. Setting my own hours allows me to attend VA appointments, monitor his health, and support him in any way that he needs. If you would have told me years ago that I could earn an income working from home, I would have never believed it. Yet I feel passionately that any caregiver can do the same, and hope to help and inspire those that have the same desire.
In less than one year I became a top Etsy seller, since I have continued to maintain my #9 spot worldwide. Shortly after my business flourished, Jeff joined me in expanding CanCuddler® He partners with me in the creation of our designs, printing our fabric and shipping our orders.
Thanks to his love and support in my endeavors, we have shops on Etsy and Shopify.
Melissa, CEO of CanCuddler® and Co-Founder of Patriots Cove
CanCuddler® is proudly handmade in the USA and owned and operated by a Veteran Family. We design, print and sew your order in house! When you support CanCuddler®, you are helping sponsor veterans, first responders and their caregivers through retreats and activities at Patriots Cove.