Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Caregiver Spotlight: Heather
Heather and Stephen Lederle were like most young couples. They met at a wedding, fell in love, started a family, and shared big dreams for their future. As a Combat Medic in the Army, SGT Stephen “Doc” Lederle provided for his family while caring for his soldiers. His selfless spirit is one of the things that Heather loves most about him.
“He will always be Doc in so many ways because of how he cares for everyone but himself,” says Heather.
Stephen is no longer serving as a Combat Medic. Earlier this year he was medically retired from the Army. He is one of many Veterans that live with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury). Flashbacks, nightmares, and short term memory issues are daily struggles for the Lederles. Heather has noticed a loss of passion in her husband and a lack of patience as he struggles to adapt to life after his injuries, yet she still sees his genuine compassion for wanting to help others.
“He's not the same man I married,” says Heather. “I've had to change my definition of what I thought our marriage should be. But as hard as it can be, I wouldn't change it. I love him more than I could have ever imagined possible.”
One thing that the Lederles contribute their successful marriage to is their faith. The support of their church has been instrumental in their healing together as a couple. Stephen now plays the drums and the guitar during their worship services and finds it to be very therapeutic. The Lederles hope to use this test of their faith as a testimony to others.
“This life is incredibly difficult, and something that I wouldn't wish on anybody,” says Heather. “But I know I'm going through it for a reason, even if it's just to help someone else along the way.”
Heather is new to the Caregiver program at Truman VA but has already found the program to be a valuable support system and is looking forward to participating in many of the opportunities for training and relationship building that VA has to offer.