Nikki Stephens is the wife to Marine Corps Veteran John, and together they have five children, ages spanning from preschool to high school. Although they face the typical chaos and excitement any large family experiences daily, they are faced with additional challenges that come from having a family member who served in the military.
John, an Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veteran, was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress (PTS) or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) almost immediately upon returning from his deployment in 2004. Five years later, he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Today, John is living with epilepsy due to the TBI that went un-diagnosed for so long, as well as a host of many other issues.
In 2012, John and Nikki welcomed fraternal twin boys, Brady and Kealan. With twins adding to the family dynamic, concerns of finances and living space were a natural concern. But the even bigger challenge – learning to take care of two newborns, while navigating the VA and the insurmountable appointments and treatments that John faced.
While the twins grew from newborns to toddlers, Nikki began noticing that Kealan wasn’t quite developing the same as Brady. At 3 years, Kealan was diagnosed with autism.
Nikki continues to push forward while being a mom to five awesome kids and the primary caregiver for her husband and son. She states that while some days can be difficult; she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Nikki is an Elizabeth Dole Alumna class of 2015/2016, a foundation that is dedicated to strengthen and empower American military caregivers and their families by raising awareness, driving research and policy, and leading collaborations that make a significant impact on their lives. Nikki also received the Mattie J.T. Stepenak scholarship and award from the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving and is a Caregiver Coordinator with a Veteran non-profit, the Yellow Ribbon Fund based in D.C.
The Stephens’ are natives of Southern California where they currently reside.