It is rare to meet a person who truly resembles not just a hero, but also a warrior in mind, body and spirit.
Carla Sabrina Rose Locklear is a proud Native American Air Force Veteran who served as a medic in Texas from 1997 to 2002.
“I had friends ask me why I would serve this government that had done damage to my people. I would respond with, ‘My ancestors have always protected this land… and we always will.’”
While in the military, Locklear was diagnosed with an extremely rare immunodeficiency disorder called hypogammaglobulinemia.
Her symptoms and ailments became worse and she had to be hospitalized more frequently. It was hard for her to accept that she needed a steady caregiver and support system.
Hard to reach out to ask for help
“Being a Veteran, you tend to just suck it up and push through stuff. It was hard for me to reach out to ask for help. I didn’t tell my family what was going on.”
Locklear was barely hanging on and already making end-of-life plans when word reached her aunt and uncle in Bluemont, Va. Her aunt, Air Force Veteran René White, formed a plan.
Aunt Rene found a hospital with “all the things I need”
“I couldn’t believe it. She found a VA hospital in West Virginia, 30 minutes from her home. They have all the things I need and they would help me,” said Locklear. “It blew my mind because here I was, picking out the colors of my coffin.”
Aunt René assumed the role of caregiver and advocated for her patient and loved one. Locklear felt hope and that things could go a different way.
Locklear left everything and moved to Virginia to find healing. She showed up to Aunt René’s house with nothing but her wheelchair and a backpack. Even though she didn’t arrive with any physical baggage, the emotional baggage was overwhelming. She is pictured above with her Aunt René and Uncle Chris.
Her vision: “To be on a healing mountain”
Together, they used a unique storyboard approach to prioritize what had to be decided immediately and what could wait. This process also led Locklear to find her personal vision statement: “To be on a healing journey, on a healing mountain and search for a cure.”
Once she spoke those words aloud, it changed the energy in her entire body and her new perspective became about healing and living.
“It really resonated because I was in this desert in Texas where nothing was growing or thriving in my life. I came to this mountain that was alive. It was alive with hope and it gave me hope.”
Locklear immediately started visiting the Martinsburg VAMC and Stephens City CBOC for treatment. Staff there adjusted her infusion cycle so she would get antibodies more frequently.
“The whole team was fantastic, from the moment we step off the elevator. The admin team even sings my name every time they see me walking down the hall. It just turns my whole energy around so I can accept the treatment and the healing.”
Locklear is a warrior in mind, body and spirit and the Martinsburg VAMC is proud to be a part of her tribe.
Lauren Winebrenner is a public affairs specialist at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center.