Brian and Natalie Vines: A Day in the Life of a Veteran and a Veteran Caregiver

 

Being organized and having a routine makes each day smoother for Natalie Vines who has TBI and PTSD and for her caregiver husband and fellow vet, Brian Vines who also has PTSD. Their day starts the night before when they review the calendar for the following day. Usually, along with a light breakfast and lunch, mornings are busy with appointments in and beyond the VA and afternoons more focused on connection and fun like scuba diving lessons. The evening finds them cooking dinner together and relaxing with some TV and together time.

Shortly after Brian and Natalie Vines met in the military in 1998, their unit deployed to Kuwait. Fueled by assignments on nearby bases, common interests, and shared military experiences, their friendship grew into a romantic relationship that eventually led them to the alter. Brian and Natalie loved their careers in the U.S. Army — Brian served for 28 years and Natalie for 21. After several sustaining several TBIs and living with PTSD, Natalie retired from the Army.

And in 2012, Brian, who lives with PTSD as well, decided to retire to take care of his wife. Since then, both Brian and Natalie also found significant growth and healing through their participation in the WWP Independence Program. Brian volunteers as a peer mentor helping his fellow veterans on WWP Project Odyssey® events.

For information about treatments for TBI and PTSD, please visit The Treatment Hub.

A typical day starts the night before when we review the calendar for the next day. I’ve found that Natalie reacts positively if she knows exactly what’s going to happen, how we’re going to get there, when we’re going to eat. And if she feels comfortable with that, it becomes a good experience. Whereas if something doesn’t go exactly right as planned, sometimes that causes her some frustrations that we have to deal with.

When we get up in the morning, we both get showered and conduct personal hygiene and I assist her with some of those tasks. I assist her with getting dressed. Breakfast is normally something small, kind of a quick, continental type breakfast. Seldom do we cook for breakfast. And then we go about our day, usually going to appointments, both VA appointments and appointments outside the VA. Lunchtime is again kind of easy to prepare sandwiches. Natalie, I admit, is a much healthier eater than I am. And so she will work in a salad as opposed to a sandwich or any types of processed foods.

Afternoon if we’re not doing appointments, currently Natalie’s taking scuba lessons. Our plan is to get scuba qualified, and that become an outdoor activity that we can both do together.

Supper, normally cooked. We cook together. We’ve had issues in the past because of Natalie’s TBI, of leaving the stove on, or forgetting to add an ingredient. So, we do that together. And again, Natalie’s very healthy outlook when we’re cooking. In the evening just kind of relax. We watch TV and discuss anything and then we start the whole process over, getting ready for the next day.

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Posted on BrainLine November 10, 2021. Reviewed November 10, 2021.

About the author: Brian and Natalie Vines

Shortly after Brian and Natalie Vines met in the military in 1998, their unit deployed to Kuwait. Fueled by assignments on nearby bases, common interests, and shared military experiences, their friendship grew into a romantic relationship that eventually led them to the alter. Brian and Natalie loved their careers in the U.S. Army — Brian served for 28 years and Natalie for 21. After several sustaining several TBIs and living with PTSD, Natalie retired from the Army. And in 2012, Brian, who lives with PTSD as well, decided to retire to take care of his wife. Since then, both Brian and Natalie also found significant growth and healing through their participation in the Wounded Warrior Project® Independence Program. Brian volunteers as a peer mentor helping his fellow veterans on WWP Project Odyssey® events.

A photo from left to right of Natalie Vines, her German Shepherd service dog, and Brian Vines, all smiling facing the camera