Lafayette resident Katie Guidry's husband was less than a month from retirement after a long career in the US military. That's when he suffered an off-duty accident that changed his whole life and his outlook on life. Barry Guidry is a quadriplegic and his wife, Katie, has become his caretaker and ultimate advocate. That advocacy earned her the distinction of being a 2020 Dole Caregiver Fellow, sponsored by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Each year, 30 military and veteran caregivers are carefully selected from across the country to take on a national role of advocating for caretakers. Katie joined us on Acadiana's Morning News to tell her story and why she thinks it's so important to advocate for wounded warriors.

Read the full release below:

Washington, D.C. (May 4, 2020) — The Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced Katie Guidry of Lafayette will join its 2020 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows – 30 military and veteran caregivers who have been carefully selected from across the country to represent those Americans caring for a wounded, ill, or injured service member or a veteran at home. The role of these Fellows has never been more important as caregivers are under unprecedented stress due to the threat of the coronavirus.

 

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Guidry will serve as a leader, community organizer, and advocate for the nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers – the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who provide more than $14 billion in voluntary care annually to someone who served. They will join the 225 past and present Fellows who are trained by the Foundation and empowered to share their stories and perspectives directly with national leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other government agencies, as well as decision-makers in the business, entertainment, faith, and nonprofit sectors. The Fellows will provide feedback to the Foundation, its coalition partners, and government and community leaders on the most pressing issues concerning military caregivers and influence positive change on behalf of these hidden heroes.

 

“Our eighth class of Dole Caregiver Fellows is bringing a new set of unique voices to our mission, but all share similar stories of strength, resilience, and hope in caring for their wounded warriors,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “As they care for their veteran, we are grateful for their experiences, wisdom, and willingness to come together and advocate for their fellow hidden heroes. They are the heart and soul of our work.”

Guidry serves as a caregiver for her husband, Barry, who sustained spinal injury that resulted in quadriplegia, paralysis of all four limbs as a result of his military service. Her story is linked and pasted below.

 

Senator Elizabeth Dole created the Dole Caregiver Fellows program in 2012 to directly engage military and veteran caregivers in the Foundation’s mission. The 2020 Fellows class includes loved ones whose service members and veterans represent all branches of service and different eras of peace and conflict. The 2020 class represents 23 states and includes a retired father caring for his daughter and her son, an occupational therapist who took on her own fiancé's full-time care, and a wife who assumed care of her husband and pulled them back from the brink of homelessness.

 

If you are interested in conducting an interview with Guidry, or with a spokesperson from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, please contact Austin Courtney at austin@elizabethdolefoundation.org.