Sacrifice, Strength, Selflessness, and Love

February 14, 2022

Episode 207

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The Stephens family share how being a military caregiver is a family endeavor and the importance of recognizing that military-connected children and youth are often part of this support. 

Show Notes:



Bio: Noah Stephens

Hidden Helper

Noah Stephens is 19 years old and lives with his family in southern California. His father, John, is a combat wounded veteran of the Marine Corps. His mom, Nikki, is his caregiver. Noah has four siblings, and is the oldest one living at home, along with his 15-year-old sister and twin 8-year-old brothers.

Noah has never thought of himself as a “caregiver kid.” He just thought he was someone who happened to have a dad who was injured, and a mom who cared for him, and that he helped them both, because he was their son, and they love each other.

He helps his family in many ways, whether it’s helping his mom with his siblings, running errands, taking on his dad’s chores when he’s unable to after seizures, and so much more. Noah takes on all of these responsibilities to help his parents along with his own, but he says he wouldn’t have it any other way. Noah also knows what to do when his dad has a seizure. He believes it’s empowering to have some of these skills that you only pick up as a caregiver kid; but when his dad experiences a seizure, he can’t help but feel scared and overthink.

Noah has returned to college to study film production. Noah turns to television and film to help relax from the daily stress of being a caregiver kid. A particular film Noah loves is Good Will

Hunting. He relates to Will. Noah has experienced trauma and hasn’t gotten the chance to heal from it because life as a caregiver kid doesn’t let you, but he knows he’ll get his chance.


Bio: Nikki Stephens

Hidden Hero

Nikki had never heard of traumatic brain injury (TBI) until her husband, John, was diagnosed with it in 2009. John was deployed in Iraq and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines Corps in 2006. When he met Nikki after the Marine Corps, he experienced some symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Nikki slowly slipped into the role of a caregiver as she helped John manage his emotions. After his health continued to unravel, it took 16 months for doctors to correctly diagnose him with left temporal lobe epilepsy, due to the TBI that went undiagnosed for so long, as well as a host of other issues. That was the moment Nikki knew she was officially his caregiver.

Since joining the Elizabeth Dole Foundation as a Dole Caregiver Fellow in 2015, Nikki has sat on numerous committees, campaigns, and is very passionate about serving families of our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans. Nikki is committed to building a stronger military and veteran caregiver community.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Nikki advocates, not only for her husband and other caregivers, but for military children as well.

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