Celebrating Military Caregivers Through Brian and Monika's Story - Warriors & Quiet Waters
Warrior Taste Fest Tickets are Available Now |

Celebrating Military Caregivers Through Brian and Monika's Story

When I first decided to speak with Brian, I intended to highlight his experience as an accomplished and storied Command Sergeant Major transitioning from a lengthy career in the Army. However, what quickly became apparent was how impacted he was by the experience that his wife, Monika, had participating as a caregiver with WQW. When Brian shares about his wife, he beams with pride and admiration that I would be remiss not to share with our readers, especially this May, The Month of the Military Caregiver.


As a soldier transitioning out of the military after a 32-year career, Brian knew there were resources for him. He’d been involved with several veteran transition programs. As he started building relationships with veteran organizations, he knew one thing was missing — there was nothing for his wife, Monika.

That’s when a comrade at the George W. Bush Institute introduced him to the Warriors & Quiet Waters’ Caregiver Fishing Experience.

“I was [wounded] in combat back in October of 2007, and I participated in many programs as part of my recovery, but this was truly the first time I could do something for my wife,” Brian, a WQW Alumni Ambassador, said.

Brian noticed that military caregivers didn’t seem to have the same opportunities to process the impact of combat on their lives as veterans had.

WQW210518 062

“Everything I've participated in has always been about me,” he said. “It's never been about my wife, for Monika to process her feelings and what she's gone through. Most organizations are geared toward the veteran or couples. But there are very few that will allow the spouse or caregiver to come out and heal on their own."

When asked why caregivers need space and time to process, Brian replied, “I can't imagine what it was like when Monika got the phone call saying, ‘Your husband's been wounded.’”

When Monika returned from her experience with WQW, Brian immediately noticed the impact of the experience on her.

“Monika had never been fishing in her life, and when she came back, I could see that it was life-changing for her. Just the way that she felt – the invigoration, you could see this newfound energy.”


After Monika’s experience, she knew she wanted to share her experience with her husband, so they applied for a Couples Fishing Experience.

“It was a shared experience for us,” Brian said. “We were cold; we were wet; we were in the sunshine; we were eating lunch on a rock; we were casting our lines in the water; we were catching fish; we were celebrating each other. It was a great time to come together, spend time away, and meet other like-minded couples in different places in their lives.”

Brian noted that WQW’s Caregiver Program sets the organization apart from other VSOs he has been involved with.

“I'll always go back to the opportunity for the caregiver and the spouse to have their own focus. Not everybody has that; to me, that made such a difference.”

Brian Flom4

After the experience that Brian and Monika shared with WQW during the Couples Fishing Experience, they also had the opportunity to return as volunteers. Brian shared how the experience of giving back to other veterans impacted him.

“What brings me back is that I believe in the mission. I believe in the difference and the opportunity that WQW can create for not just veterans but their families,” Brian said. When you believe in something, I think it comes naturally to want to continue to be involved. I'm able to be the difference, and that's what giving back is about.”

As we celebrate Military Caregiver Month this May, the story of Brian and Monika illustrates the profound impact of our support for military caregivers. Brian's recognition of the scarcity of opportunities focused solely on caregivers underscores the importance of initiatives like these, which provide much-needed respite and healing for those who often put their own needs aside to support their loved ones. Monika's transformative experience rejuvenated her spirit and strengthened their relationship, inspiring them to return as volunteers and pay forward the support they received. This week, Monika will serve as Assistant Team Leader on the Caregiver Fishing Experience, highlighting the enduring impact of compassion, camaraderie, and the power of giving back within the military caregiver community.