This post was uploaded by Rachel Brauner of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Wounded Warrior Program and published on the Military Families Learning Network blog.
Archive for the ‘family development’ Category
This post was uploaded by Rachel Brauner of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Wounded Warrior Program and published on the Military Families Learning Network blog.
The University of Kentucky, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension is hosting the Center for Courageous Kids Wounded Warrior Camp, August 31–September 2, 2012 for wounded service members and their teenagers, ages 14–18 years old .
The wounded warrior camp is a FREE, three-day adventure for families from all states and branches of the military.
The Center for Courageous Kids is a world-class medical camping facility located in Scottsville, KY, that provides services to children, preteens, and teenagers and their families across the nation who are living with variety of medical conditions.
The Center for Courageous Kids is a state-of-the-art facility that offers programs to fit the needs of every wounded service member. The wounded warrior camp allows individuals to enjoy a variety of activities as a parent-child team, including horseback riding, fishing, archery, rock climbing, basketball, campfires, canoeing, woodworking, bowling, swimming and having a great time.
For more information and registering for this event go to: http://www.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/militarycamp/
This month is PTSD Awareness Month, and organizations and institutions across the nation are raising awareness concerning this invisible injury by providing information and assistance for those struggling with the condition and those that continue to provide care to them.
According to the Military Health System (MHS), since 2008 an estimated 39,300 patients have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (National Defense Authorization Act, 2008). As service members continue to return home from combat, the number of individuals experiencing PTSD may increase.
PTSD is a debilitating condition that is common in service member who have been exposed to traumatic events while performing their military duties. PTSD is considered a silent, invisible injury that can cause sleep disturbance, unwanted thoughts or memories, excessive anger or irritability, and the use of large amounts of alcohol.
If you are a service member struggling with PTSD or know someone that is, it may be helpful for you to take a closer look at what the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD has to offer.
Also, the following video, Caring for Those with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, offers insight into caring for service members with PTSD and information and tips for military family caregivers caring for wounded warriors with this particular injury.
How can you provide proper care for wounded warrior with PTSD?
Imagine this scenario:
Dad is divorced and has custody of his two young daughters. Recently, he remarried, and last week he was deployed. His second wife and new stepmom receives a call. The youngest daughter, who is 8 years old, has been injured at school. The school nurse needs consent for medical treatment. Oops! Stepmom doesn’t know what to do, or what her legal rights are.
For stepparents, this is an altogether too common and sometimes frightening situation. Deployment often means that the stepparent has to take on a new role as both the mom and the dad, and must assume new responsibilities and tasks with little or no preparation. For stepfamilies, deployment can be particularly challenging because of the murkiness that often exists for who has legal authority.
Did you know that in most cases, stepparents have no legal authority when it comes to making decisions or even getting information about their stepchildren’s education, benefits programs, medical treatment or health care?
Dr. Francesca Adler-Baeder, Director of the Center for Children, Youth, and Families at Auburn, is the Stepfamily Association of America and oversees the activities of the National Stepfamily Resource Center, a division of Auburn University’s Center for Children, Youth, and Families.
In this short video clip, Adler-Baeder offers suggestions for working with stepfamilies serving in the military and briefly introduces a new set of learning modules geared to stepfamilies (soon to be available through the National Stepfamily Resource Center).
What tips would you give to Military Family Resource Providers?
Yes, stepfamilies face many challenges. But Adler-Baeder offers reassurance to those working with “complex families” like stepfamilies in which the custodial parents are deployed. She says that military families are strong and resilient, that by definition military families are service-oriented, and that family members have a “similar service-heart.”
See Adler-Baeder respond to the question, “What makes military families strong and resilient?” in this short interview at the 2011 National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Conference
Here are some of the issues that stepfamilies about to be deployed need to discuss. Those working with these complex families can facilitate these discussions and help both stepparents and custodial parents feel more secure and less stressed when the time comes to assume new roles and new responsibilities.
Issues to discuss:
- How will the stepparent be able to facilitate contact between the child and the deployed parent?
- If the stepparent is married to a noncustodial parent, will the stepparent be allowed to have regular access to the child?
- If the stepparent is married to a custodial parent, what will happen if the noncustodial parent wants custody during the deployed parent’s absence?
- Will the deployment affect child support payments?
- Will the stepparent need to move the child to a different location, enroll the child in school, negotiate with the school about the stepchild’s special needs, enroll the child in benefit programs, consent to medical care, enroll the child in daycare, summer camps, sports activities or other special programs, or insure the child’s participation in religious training or programs?
- If the stepparent will need to travel abroad with the child, is the child’s passport in order and are there any special permissions that will be needed?
- Are there any pending legal actions involving the child?
- Are there financial arrangements that need to be made with regard to the child, involving matters such as tuition payments, health insurance payments, support, or property?
The Amputee Coalition of America uses six phases to describe the recovery process after an amputation.
However, understanding these phases and applying them to your caregiving role can be challenging. Let’s take a look at what your loved one may be going through during their amputee journey and what you can do to help them through this process.
Phase 1: Enduring
In the first phase, your wounded warrior may experience the need to focus on the present to get through the pain, while blocking out distress about the future. It is a conscious choice not to deal with the full meaning of the loss.
During this phase, reassure him or her about your commitment and provide a comfortable environment while they are dealing with the pain and loss.
Phase 2: Suffering
In the second phase, the wounded warrior may have intense feelings about the loss of a limb or limbs. These feelings may include fear, denial, anger, depression, and confusion. This emotional anguish about the loss of self adds to the pain.
You can listen and offer help when your wounded service member experiences pain, worry, anger, frustration, and fear. When they request your help, get them to tell you what they need and talk about how you can handle the situation together.
Phase 3: Reckoning
During the reckoning phase, the wounded warrior is: coming to terms with the extent of the loss of limb or limbs, accepting what is left after the loss and understanding the implications for the future, and minimizing his or her own losses in comparison to others’ losses.
You can help your loved one accept current life changes and offer hope for the future by learning with them about advances in rehabilitation and prosthetic design.
Phase 4: Reconciling
In the reconciling phase, the wounded warrior begins to: regain control, become aware of his or her strengths and uniqueness, be more assertive, take control of his or her life, and manage their recovery process.
It is important to show patience during the reconciling phase and let him or her do as much as they can, even if it takes them longer or if they do things differently than you would.
Phase 5: Normalizing
In the normalizing phase, your warrior will begin to: balance his or her life, establish new routines, and once again concentrate on the things that matter, allowing priorities other than the loss to dominate his or her life.
By maintaining a schedule of daily activities, you will help the warrior focus on a routine and restore balance in both your lives.
Phase 6: Thriving
Not all military amputees attain the final recovery phase of thriving. Thriving is being more than before, trusting self and others, building confidence, and being a role model.
To help your loved one thrive, encourage him or her to interact with others who share in similar situations. This provides a positive outlook not only for themselves, but also for those just starting the recovery phase.
Caregiving can be emotionally and intellectually challenging at times for both you and your military amputee. Your support and care are vital in helping your wounded warrior succeed. While this new role in your life can be challenging, know that you are not alone–there is hope.
For more information regarding characteristics of military amputations and strategies for coping with an amputee patient go to Caregivers of Military Amputee. Also for additional information on caregiving, visit Caregiving 101 to learn more about this new caregiving role in your life and the emotional aspects that may affect you and your family.
Carole Gnatuk, Ed.D., Extension Child Development Specialist, University of Kentucky, says that there are seven distinct stages of emotional challenges faced by military families during and after deployment—and that failure to successfully negotiate each stage can create havoc for the family.
According to Gnatuk, the stages in this “emotional cycle of deployment” are:
- Stage 1: Anticipation of Departure
- Stage 2: Detachment and Withdrawal
- Stage 3: Emotional Disorganization
- Stage 4: Recovery and Stabilization
- Stage 5: Anticipation of Return
- Stage 6: Return Adjustment and Renegotiation
- Stage 7: Reintegration and Stabilization
Wanting to help military families cope with deployment, Gnatuk and her team at University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension developed a new program, Communities Support Military Families. While developed in Kentucky, Communities Support Military Families is national in scope–its materials contain no state-specific references and can be used by anyone.
Here’s how Gnatuk explains the program:
Most of us know firsthand the power of good neighbors reaching out to each other with practical support. It’s just what friendly people do. Now, cutting edge research is showing that intentional, informal, friendly networks, undergirded by community agencies, can be highly effective in strengthening resilience and mental health in National Guard and Reserve members and their families. They live among all of us, often unrecognized but with unmet needs. Communities Support Military Families discusses the rationale, raises awareness, and provides suggestions for sensitive listening and for taking up the slack of families with absent or recently returned fathers, mothers, or spouses. This program has been effectively utilized by Extension community volunteers in Kentucky through family to family contacts doing lawn mowing, kid transportation, shopping errands, and car fixing; in public schools through family recognition evenings and bulletin boards; county fairs through family photos on t-shirts and pillow cases; and in cooperation with Operation: Military Kids, promoting summer family camps, to name just a few projects. (Personal communication with Carole Gnatuk, April 23, 2012)
Here are some suggestions from the Communities Support Military Families program for ways you can help support the military families in your community:
- Befriending a military family with a member who is or will soon be deployed—and then be prepared for the long haul! Keeping up friendship throughout the seven stages of the entire deployment cycle is critical.
- Walk a mile in their “boots”! Try to put yourself in the family’s situation. Don’t try to offer judgment or solutions to their problems. Be a good listener!
- Be sensitive about discussing your own views on war or the military. The family may want to talk over their issues or they may only want your caring.
- Send the children birthday and holiday cards as well as giving small gifts, if appropriate.
- Call them on a fairly regular basis, just to check in and see how they are doing, if they feel like going out for a walk, or want to come over for dinner.
- Suggest taking the whole family or perhaps just the children on an outing to a place of interest for fun.
- Gift the family with tickets to a performance that they might not otherwise be able to afford.
- Make a point of attending and cheering on the children at sports events, musical performances, appearances in school plays, or dance recitals.
- Suggest specific ways that you could support the family once the service member leaves. These suggestions will likely ease the anxiety of the soon-to-be deployed family member, as well as the parent staying home.
- Offer to assist with routine household and family tasks. You might offer to watch the children once a month, clean the house, bring meals in on certain days, mow the lawn, rake leaves, remove snow, or change the oil on the family’s vehicle.
- Send a care package or letter to the deployed military member. The children in the family might like to help in this activity.
- Offer to go on a school field trip in place of the parent, or to go along to be an extra set of hands for the children on an outing such as a trip to the zoo or a visit to a nearby park.
Adventure Camps for Military Teens
Do you know a teen from a deployed military family in your community who might be interested in—and benefit from—a high energy, high adventure, and high experience camp?
Now through March 2013, nearly 1,600 military teens (14-18 years old) will have an opportunity to participate in adventure camps at little to no cost, thanks to a partnership between the Dept. of Defense and NIFA/USDA. These high energy, high adventure, and high experience camps are being conducted by experience 4-H Youth Development and Cooperative Extension staff.
Each camp offers a unique outdoor experience that will allow a teen to build leadership, self-confidence, and teamwork skills while participating in activities like backpacking, river rafting, canoeing, wilderness survival, rocketry, rock climbing, GPS use, mountain biking, first aid, winter camping, dog sledding, ropes courses, camp cooking, archery, and other camp activities.
There are camps being scheduled and planned across the U.S. from Alaska to Maine and from Colorado to Georgia as well as states in between. Camps for youth with special needs (mental, physical, and emotional) are also planned in California, Ohio, and New Hampshire. For military youth already in the Pacific Rim, two camp dates are available in Hawaii.
You might be able to suggest one of these scheduled camps to a military family in your community and make a big difference in a young person’s ability to cope with their mom or dad’s deployment.
How is your community supporting military families? Share your story in the comments below.
Reunion, Reintegration, Resilience
Today there are nearly two million children who have a parent in the military. More than 900,000 military children have had a parent deploy multiple times. In addition to the military-related stressors of multiple moves and schools, children also have had to deal with long-term, multiple deployments and separations from one, or both, parents.
But now with the drawdown of our military forces and fewer deployments, many of these service member parents are coming home. Coming home. What does “coming home” mean to these children? What does coming home mean to the daily rhythms of family life? How does family resilience plan a role in reintegration?
There’s been months of anticipation and counting the days. Birthdays have come and gone, holidays have been celebrated and missed and all of the normal, day-to-day ups and downs in a family’s daily routine have somehow managed to take place while mom or dad was deployed. But now the service member is coming home. What does that mean for the family?
Reintegration means that families need to take time and take stock of what it means to be a family. Mom, dad and the kids need to tap into the programs available to them that will help them gain a renewed sense of their roles, develop a sense of belonging to a new family unit, and nurture their own resilience.
In her recent web conference on the Military Families Learning Network, Balancing Work and Family: Building Military Family Resilience, Angela Wiley, Associate Professor of Applied Family Studies and Extension Specialist, University of Illinois, defined resilience as “a dynamic process encompassing positive adaptation within the context of significant adversity.” She said that families can benefit from, as well as contribute to, a network of relationships and resources in their communities. Dr. Wiley pointed to the importance of developing new routines, new traditions, new celebrations and expanded social support systems.
Resources for returning veterans and their families
As veterans and their families re-start their lives, finding new jobs and starting new careers plays a critically important role in reintegration.
- Joining Forces is one of President Obama’s initiatives to encourage the public to give service members and their families the support and opportunities they need and have earned through their service to our country. Whether this re-start means creating new routines and developing new family traditions, or is complicated by finding ways to adjust to permanent injuries or other hardships, Joining Forces has created resources specifically designed to help veterans translate their military skills into the civilian workforce. The Obama Administration has intentionally partnered with corporations and businesses to make it easier for veterans to connect with companies that are ready to hire them and help them re-start their lives.
- Google for Veterans was developed by and for veterans, as well as the families of veterans and friends who work at Google. There are tools for reconnecting, restarting and transitioning to civilian life.
- Veterans Education and Transition Services or “VETS” incorporates academics, institutional access, student involvement and research, not only to support the success of enrolled student veterans, but to understand their experiences more authentically and maintain a program that is effective and dynamic.
- RecruitMilitary is a veteran-owned firm dedicated to helping you achieve your dreams: education, veteran jobs and civilian careers, new business and franchise ownership, training, and much more.
- Vet Jobs Why hire veterans? Quite simply, veterans make the best employees! The U.S. military is the world’s largest technical training school with over 220 occupational specialties. Veterans represent the most highly trained, technically capable, verifiable, diverse and teamwork oriented work force in the world. At VetJobs, veterans can find employment assistance, post a resume and search open positions—over 44,00 open jobs are listed!
Now it’s your turn. Tell us your story in the comments section below. Are you a returning veteran or have you worked with a returning veteran? Do you have any tips or advice you would like to share?
In his white paper, Deployed Dads: Strengthening Military and Veteran Fathers, Families and Communities, Richard Lewis says that the negative impact of a father’s military service, especially pre- and post-deployment, can be mitigated by increasing the family’s access to resources.
But where do you start? What makes sense in terms of helping military fathers transition from active duty to “full-time” dad?
Andrew Behnke, Professor and Human Development Specialist at North Carolina State University, says that we should start with fathers where they are. Behnke shares, “They might not want to learn about being a dad, or a better spouse, but they will likely want to do things with other dads or with their families—like playing basketball, working out, going on a picnic, or hiking. Educational programs are most effective when they involve ‘stealth education’ – education that is hidden in fun activities and focuses on their kids or things they would do naturally with other guys- that allows fathers to come to programs on topics that interest them, while still providing dads some ways to learn to be the dad they want to be.
Behnke suggests, “You might invite dads to a “how to” session on finances or investing. Or an activity on helping their kids succeed in school or staying connected while apart using technology. These topics can become a spring board for teaching ways that dads can be even more “amazing.” Most dads like to be told what they are doing right and even seen as experts, they don’t like to be told how to parent. One approach that I like is offering a personal invitation to a dad to attend a program so they can act as a mentor for other dads or learn some things to help the other men in their units. A lot of times it really comes down to fathers feeling that they are heard, and that their opinions are respected.”
Other tips from Behnke for helping military dads rejoin their families:
- A child’s caregiver, often wives (for married dads) and girlfriends or relatives (for other dads) are the gateway to maintaining the connection with their children when dad is deployed. Help dads find their personal style for communicating more and make it a pattern they follow every week.
- Fathers can be each others’ greatest support. Take time to encourage dads to seek out a natural mentor or a friend that they can relate to and look up to as a father.
- Church support is also a powerful source of strength for many military dads. Where many other things in their lives change so much a faith community can be a source of stability and support. Helping dads find a church or a community group they really connect with is a great source of strength.
According to the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), nearly two million children of military dads are affected by the unique stresses of military life. Approximately 593,000 active-duty service members and nearly 300,000 U.S. reservists are dads. Today there are approximately 150,000 military fathers currently deployed.
As there are lots of military dads there are also lots of resources. To help prepare fathers and their families for the stresses of deployment, transitions, and times away, the NFI offers quality resources developed by seasoned military personnel and offers training and workshops to prepare families for both deployment and reunion, as well as tools for strengthening families.
Another great resource is the Pay it Forward Parenting free online parenting program for military moms and dads. This free class (normally $299) is taught by one of the world’s foremost authors on parenting Amy McCready and offers an amazing opportunity to learn skills and techniques to be the parent you want to be.