Cedric Wyaco is a 54-year-old veteran who joined the Marine Corps right out of high school in 1985. Wanting to go to college but not receiving any scholarships, Wyaco heard about the GI Bill and completed the challenge with six years of service. After his discharge, he met his wife Cassandra Herrera, and they moved to Phoenix. Then tragedy hit when Wyaco suffered a stroke in 2013. At that point, he needed a higher level of daily care, and Wyaco became a member of Oakwood Creative Care.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here, and it’s been great. I’ve met many good people, and many good teachers are doing their best to help us out,” said Wyaco.
One person who stands out to Wyaco is his declared “hero,” Annie Naugle. As a nurse at Oakwood’s Town Center location, Naugle was the first person Wyaco met at Oakwood, and she helped him get through the most challenging parts of the COVID-19 pandemic when he lost several family members.
Now, Wyaco enjoys painting landscapes, and some of his paintings are on display in the homes and offices of people in the Oakwood community.
“I never even touched a paintbrush before. Now here I am. I like to draw; I like to paint. It’s like a new hobby for me,” said Wyaco.
Wyaco was a Motor Transport Driver in the Corps, and he used his GI Bill to attend both the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and the University of California Irvine. He was trained in information technology and computer networks, and he went on to become an IT Director for schools throughout his 17-year career. Now he says painting helps jog his long-term memory.
“I can use my mind a lot more, and I often have memories come back to me while painting familiar things from my past, like landscapes and homes. During my career, I used to run technical wires for phones, computers, faxes, etc., in the entire building, and I always felt like this kept my mind very busy. After the stroke, I felt like I lost that busy mind, but painting has brought that back for me,” he said.
He’s met several other veterans at Oakwood and says he is proud to share his military service.
“I met so many brothers and sisters in the Marine Corps. When you swear an oath to defend and protect your country, you want to protect it until the end, which takes hard work and strength,” he added.