“In the blink of an eye, this could happen to anybody,” says Jennifer. “What happened to me was a freak accident. It wasn’t anything I did or didn’t do.”
In 2016, Jennifer S. was involved in a car accident that left her without the use of most of her right hand.
The accident left all of Jennifer’s right-hand fingers crushed, and she had to have one finger amputated, leaving only her thumb usable.
“I went from not being disabled one day to being disabled the next,” says Jennifer, business process consultant lead, Bank omnichannel sales and service. “Being a right-handed person, I had to adapt to doing everything with my left hand.”
“In the blink of an eye, this could happen to anybody,” adds Jennifer. “What happened to me was a freak accident. At any given moment, anybody’s life can be impacted this way.”
That sudden change, Jennifer says, has been a difficult adjustment. After the accident, Jennifer says she took advantage of USAA’s Employee Assistance Program to help process the trauma.
“Attitude plays a really big role in how you adjust,” says Jennifer. “I’ve been able to do an awful lot in my life with two hands, and I’m grateful for that. Having that change in attitude has really helped me get through a lot and move forward.”
In addition to the mental adjustment, Jennifer has had to modify her approach to everyday tasks. With the support of her family, she has relearned tasks such as cooking. Taking notes and typing have also been an adjustment. While phones and computers help a great deal, Jennifer says that people can sometimes get the wrong impression.
“I’ve been in training classes where we were given books to take notes and asked to put away our phones and laptops,” says Jennifer. “I would keep mine out to take notes, and I’d see people looking at me like, ‘Is she texting? Is she even paying attention?'"
Jennifer says it’s important to always assume positive intent in others. While it may appear that someone is being rude or not following the rules, they may be accommodating a disability.
“Maybe they need the assistance,” she explains. “Not everyone is living the same situation. Someone may be facing struggles that you don’t see.
Jennifer says that the disability has also given her a new perspective on our members and what many of them have overcome.
“Our members are one of the main reasons I have worked at USAA for so long,” says Jennifer. “The men and women who have served our country are very special people. Many of them became disabled after putting their lives on the line for others. It’s our responsibility to take care of them the best we can.”