Kansas City VA Medical Center
Claudia Cuellar's Dynamic Caregiver’s Journey
The story of Claudia Cuellar's journey as a caregiver to Tomas Young is one that embodies deep friendship, respect, shared values, and a commitment to one another's growth. Considering herself a life partner to Tomas, she is an energetic woman with strong commitments to fostering health and wellness, advocating for veterans, and empowering others.
Tomas served in Iraq where he suffered war-related injuries resulting in quadriplegia. He requires a high level of caregiver support and Claudia is dynamic in meeting that need. Tomas and Claudia met two years while he was receiving care at a rehabilitation facility in Chicago, Illinois. The friendship with shared interests ultimately bloomed into romance. When it was time for Tomas to leave the rehabilitation facility and return to Kansas City, Claudia joined him and began her journey as his primary caregiver.
It doesn’t take long to recognize that Tomas and Claudia care deeply about each other and are strongly committed to their partnership. The two are realistic about the fact that any long-term relationship can reach a point where one partner will need significant help from the other. They believe, however, that care-giving needs, while significant, can be managed when a relationship is strong, and even become secondary when a couple is focused on shared goals and values. They are not only surviving, but thriving, as they partner to manage Tomas's health challenges. Claudia is relentless in ensuring that Tomas adopts health-promoting behaviors in order to avoid further hospitalizations. Tomas encourages Claudia to take time for rest, relaxation, and self-care. By fostering the values of honesty and mutual concern, Tomas and Claudia have developed an enviable and inspiring care partnership.
It is an honor to salute caregiver Claudia Cuellar during National Family Caregiver Month.