Kristin Christensen, a local Everett hero, was named a 2021 Fellow of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.  The EDF was founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole to support the caregivers of our soldiers and veterans. While most have heard of Wounded Warriors and Tunnels to Towers, great organizations assisting our military and families, the forgotten unsung heroes are the caregivers that support them.  These are the spouses, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, friends, and all extended families that deal with the ramifications of their loved one’s patriotism and service to our country.

While many come home with horrific, visible injuries, some return appearing “normal”.  There is not one who has been in a war zone that does not suffer PTSD from the things they have seen and what has been asked of them. And they do it selflessly for all of us.  So many have Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).

TBI takes many forms and varies from day to day. Memory is always an issue.  Which door is the bathroom? Then there are the nightmares, night sweats, and sleeping with boots on. That is important, so they can jump up and defend their fellow soldiers under attack, or their families. Then someone wakes them up gently and they understand they are home and not in a war zone.

Meet Kristin.  She and her husband Michael were married after his return from Iraq.  While everyone thought he was A-OK, guess what?  He was the lead gunner in a vehicle that was constantly being hit by IED’s.  His patrol was hit twice in 10 days, resulting in his two Purple Hearts. He suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  The Department of Defense medically retired him, gave him papers to sign and said we only deal with active personnel.  Call the VA.

Enter courage, love, commitment, and service.  With three kids, 25, 14 and 5, Kristin would quit her job to be there for Michael.  He has wanted and struggled to find a new focus, job, and purpose. Searching for resources, she discovered Hidden Heroes, which would lead to her becoming and EDF 2021 Fellow.  This wonderful organization under the EDF umbrella provides critical resources for caregivers, both locally and nationwide.  I you are one of these Hidden Heroes, you can register at the link above.  Tom Hanks is the campaign chair and uses his well-known voice to bring attention to this critical need.  Hopefully with all our support, Everett will too soon be classified as a Hidden Heroes City.  It’s seems natural with all of our military presence here in the North Sound community.

Taking advantage of the lockdown during the pandemic, Kristin is now pursuing her goal of going to law school.  She plans on using her law degree to advocate legally for our veterans and demand the services they are entitled to.

Her new designation as a 2021 Fellow of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation gives her a huge platform to advocate for changes in policy and programs.  The suicide rate among veterans is unacceptable.  Should you or someone you know or care for appear to have suicidal tendencies, don’t wait, or hesitate to contact the Veterans Crisis Line at (877) 436-9759.  There must be services, such as mental health therapy and help lines for these amazing people that serve our country and protect our freedom and way of life.

Kristin would like to meet and help any members of this community dealing with these issues.  With our large military presence here in the North Sound, there must be many silently trying to mange alone, but you are not alone and there are resources available.  You just need to know how to find them.  Start with Hidden Heroes.

You can listen to her interviews with Stitch Mitchell (Classic Country KXA) and Tim Hunter (Greatest Hits KRKO) this morning on air, or streaming at Everettpost.com

Marcee Maylin has a degree in Editorial Journalism from the University of Washington and 30+ years media experience. She is currently the Editor of the Everett Post dedicated to providing current, relevant, and entertaining content for the local community.