Merced woman to advocate for veteran families as 2024 Dole Caregiver Fellow

Amanda Aguilar Image
Friday, July 5, 2024
Merced woman to advocate for veteran families as 2024 Dole Caregiver Fellow
A Merced woman is taking action to address the challenges faced by caregivers of our nation's veterans.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Merced woman is taking action to address the challenges faced by caregivers of our nation's veterans.

Behind our country's heroes are hidden heroes. These are the spouses, the parents and the children who care for those injured during service.

"For those who aren't visually injured, but it may seem like everything is okay, everything is normal and they're just moving on with their day. There are a lot of invisible wounds that come at the after-effects of war," explained Karla Seijas.

Seijas cares for her husband, Gustavo Escobar, who was diagnosed with PTSD following his time in Iraq.

According to Seijas, being a caregiver can feel lonely at times.

"One of the challenges that I have experienced living in the Valley is meeting fellow post-9-11 caregivers, or even just in general, post-9-11 military families or veteran families," she shared.

Seijas added that there's also a lack of access to behavioral health services or providers with military experience or knowledge.

These are just a few of the challenges she hopes to address as a 2024 Dole Caregiver Fellow with The Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

For the next two years, Seijas and her cohort will serve as advocates for veterans and their families.

It's a role she has taken on for several years now.

Seijas was instrumental in Assembly Bill 1745, which is now in effect in California. She proposed a bill that would expand access to education for dependents of disabled veterans. It was authored by Assemblywoman Esmerelda Soria, and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2023.

"That's my passion," said Seijas. "So changing laws that will improve the lives of all veteran and military families in California."

Seijas hopes to use her insight, perspectives and experiences to now impact veteran and military families across the nation.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole, is an organization dedicated to empowering, supporting and honoring the nation's military caregivers.

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