By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
Megan Powell is no stranger to advocacy. Her experience with it began when her husband, Jesse, a now-retired Army officer, began treatment for post-traumatic stress and was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. When he faced barriers in accessing mental health care in the active duty system, Megan Powell began advocating for him as his caregiver.
“When DoD wouldn’t see him, I would find somewhere that could,” she said. “I attempted to help him manage depression, anxiety … . I was trying to figure out a way [to get him care].”
Not long after her husband’s diagnosis, Megan had the opportunity to expand her advocacy efforts. She was selected in 2020 as a member of MOAA’s Currently Serving Spouse Advisory Council, a diverse group of spouses representing all branch of service who advise MOAA’s president on a variety of issues.
“MOAA was the beginning,” she said. “MOAA offered me a voice, and MOAA blessed me with the opportunity to lead the mental health group for the council to go forth to improve mental health on the active duty side.”
Though her time on the council ends in a few months, Powell recently learned she will be able to take her work even further. She was selected as a 2022 Dole Caregiver Fellow through the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Fellows “receive support, training, and a platform to address the issues impacting the community. They also share their stories directly with national leaders and decision makers within the business, entertainment, faith, and nonprofit sectors to transform the culture of care in our country,” according to the foundation’s website.
Powell said she is honored to be chosen as a fellow. “To be selected, to say your story is enough for us to pour into you and to let you run with what your experience has taught you and to bring about the change, is empowering,” she said.
Her goal is to continue to work on access-to-care issues for active servicemembers and bring recognition to military caregivers.
“I was excluded from my husband’s care,” she said. “It was against the rules [to include me]. My husband was left to tell me things that should have come from a provider … especially when you’re dealing with mental health issues.”
She also is looking forward to sharing her 5-year-old son’s caregiving journey. “Since he was born, our son has lived with my husband’s PTS,” she said. “There are a lot of children part of caregiving journeys. When there are mental health issues in the house, everybody in the family is affected, so I’m super excited to offer our experience and perspective.”
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.
MOAA Fights for You
Get involved and make sure your interests are addressed.