Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A full-time caregiver of a wounded Navy veteran gets the help she needs to go back to school.
As Gigi Barnett explains, it’s the first scholarship of its kind from a local university that helps the caregivers of injured soldiers.
Danielle Kelly’s daily to do list is filled with hospital visits and doctor meetings. It’s a full-time caregiving role she took on a year ago when her partner, Navy veteran Taylor Morris, lost both legs, an arm and his right hand in Afghanistan.
It was Morris’ first tour of duty. He stepped on a roadside bomb.
“I was clearing a path into this building. That’s when I stepped onto it and it exploded. I remember everything. I was conscious the whole time,” said Morris.
Since then, Kelly has been at the National Naval Medical Center ever since, helping Morris with his care. Sometimes, she carries him on her back to get him around.
“Stairs in the very beginning were really hard so a piggyback ride was the easiest,” said Kelly.
But now, Kelly will get the help she needs to reach her goals. She’s just been named one of three recipients of the Pillars of Strength scholarship, which pays for a full ride to the University of Maryland University College. She wants an MBA.
“When I graduated college, I never thought I’d go back,” she said. “Seeing all the nonprofits at the hospital, I wanted to learn more about them in a business setting.”
Morris has spent the last year recovering at the National Naval Medical Center. The goal is to get healthy enough so they can go back to Iowa. Kelly says the good thing about this scholarship is that it will follow them.
“We never thought this was going to happen so to have that picture on our mind of where we saw life going before all this is still in our head,” said Kelly.
University of Maryland University College teamed up with charities, including the Yellow Ribbon Fund and the Blewitt Foundation, to pay for the scholarship.