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NEWS | April 29, 2024

“Everything I do, I do to support him.” ~ Jeralyn Ditlevson

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

May is a month specifically designated to honor and celebrate military spouses. We sat down with a remarkable military spouse who recently became a caregiver. The last name is unforgettable, Ditlevson, and so is the wife and mom who is proudly out in front cheering on her Soldier husband and taking care of their family. She does quite a bit more than that, too.

"Our story is a little unique. I'm a Veteran. I served twelve years in the Army, ending as a fight medic in 2011. He stayed in because we have a daughter and were both deploying. It's a journey. I've been playing the game since 1998," said Jeralyn Ditlevson, who is married to newly retired Major Jeremy Ditlevson.

Jeralyn is part of a unique community of spouses who were also Soldiers, about 12% of military spouses.
"Now, being a spouse, everything I do, I do to support him. Every few years, I moved with him for his job, but I found a new job, got our new home together, and got our daughter situated in the newness of where we were, especially with school. As a spouse, I couldn't be prouder of his 20 years of service."

Major Ditlevson had five deployments, four to Iraq and one to Afghanistan, and according to Jeralyn, was a Soldier's Soldier. He took pride in taking care of Soldiers. Since January 17, 2023, this Soldier has needed care, care he will require for the rest of his life. Jeremy, at 48 years old after nearly 20 years of service, suffered an ischemic stroke, leaving him with mobility and speech impairments. His recovery has been remarkable, and Jeralyn is now his full-time caretaker and biggest fan.

"He said it before the stroke—he couldn't do what he does without me." Now, as a caretaker, she is also somewhat of a coach as adaptive sports have been the positive outlet for Jeremy, who competed and won a spot on Team Army. He will compete at the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Orlando this June.

"I do feel like his coach in certain things, but I know when to walk away. For example, I step away in air rifle competitions, as he does better when he doesn't see or hear me. I let the coaches do what they do with him. Rowing and Swimming, though, I am right there cheering him on."

Jeralyn's life changed as drastically as her husband's. They were planning their retirement before the stroke happened—even had their dream house picked out. She rolls with the punches, embraces change, and accepts any challenge that comes her way. She is proud of her newfound role and seems to fit in like she's been there the whole time. "With Team Army, I feel like I am part of the team. My job is to make sure he stays alive and doesn't get hurt and to help interpret for him. Being in this program feels good. It melts my heart to see how they care about everyone, no matter the wound or illness," said Jeralyn.

Her positive, joyous attitude is one to model for any spouse of a military person, particularly caregivers. The Ditlevsons continue to help Soldiers, especially within the Army Recovery Care Program, where Jeremy's been receiving care since his stroke. No matter their struggles, Jeralyn says their goal is to continue to help young Soldiers. "We've been so blessed, and we've been there and know the struggles. We want to be able to continue to help Soldiers where we can."