Allison Hughes knows just how challenging life can become when your life turns upside down. Just as she and her husband Breg were about to celebrate the birth of their second son, Breg’s Humvee hit at IED in Afghanistan and it burst into flames killing the interpreter onboard and seriously wounding everyone else, including Special Forces Officer Major Breg Hughes.
Even after two years of surgeries, Hughes is nowhere near finished. He sustained third degree burns over 50% of his body. He spent four months in a Texas hospital; two months in ICU.
Not only did Allison have their two sons to care for, but she also had her husband that had to learn to walk again, had to be fed and cared for until he could do the everyday tasks for himself. In addition to the day-to-day stuff, Allison was with Breg all the way during his 18 past surgeries and plans to be there for each one set in the future.
Allison Hughes realized what her life with a military husband would be like for she herself was deployed twice and served 27 months as a active duty, Army UH-60 pilot for a total of eight years. Never in her wildest dreams, however, could she imagine what it would be like to act as a full-time mother and caregiver for the husband she loves so dearly.
To help her put things in perspective, she joined forces with Katherine Malavenda and founded Heels on the Ground for Caregivers of wounded military veterans. In addition, she is currently a full-time graduate student at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School where she is studying entrepreneurial studies which will help her with her endeavors.
Katherine Malavenda is the perfect partner as she was also a former Army officer and is now a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and has been working for the past two years with families dealing with the stress put on families when one or more members are deployed. She helps with transition and reintegration and is specifically interested how deployment affects children. She herself is a mother of two whose husband is deployed.
Katherine understands how complex military life can be. She knows the usefulness of a strong support system in the home. She also recognizes the immense need for more caregiver support and services for spouses of wounded warriors. She is excited with the prospect of offering new mental health tools and techniques that will fit the needs of military caregivers that never get a break themselves.
Together these strong, competent women formed Heels on the Ground for Caregivers. Their mission is ‘to improve and enrich the quality of life for Caregivers of America’s critically wounded Soldiers by providing local support networks, workshops and holistic retreats.
They are hosting their first fundraiser through the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. To date they have raised more than $10,000 toward their goal of $50,000 which would allow them to host their first retreat – all expenses paid! The workshop will be held September 7th in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This fundraiser will also help to provide two cost-free informational seminars in October plus host another fundraiser in October.
To help these women provide get their organization off the ground for military caregivers, go to www.heelsonthegroundforcaregivers.org.