Tag Archives: militaryfamilies

December Caregiving Webinar: Medicaid & Military Families (Part 1)

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Join the Military Caregiving Concentration team as they host their FREE monthly professional development webinar on the topic of ‘Medicaid and Military Families: An Introduction’ – part one of a three part series.

Date: December 10, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern
Event Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1698
*No registration is required 

Christopher Plein Ph. D., an Eberly Professor of Outstanding Public Service at West Virginia University, will provide an introduction into a three-part series on the overall purposes of the Medicaid program; its relevance to military families, especially those with family members who have special needs. Medicaid is a federal-state program that often provides health care coverage for low-income families and those with disabilities. The purpose of the ‘Medicaid and Military Families’ three-part series is to assist military service providers and others with a general knowledge of Medicaid and to provide guidance on where to turn for resources and further information.

Webinar training objectives include:

  • Describe ‘What is Medicaid?’
  • Understand eligibility requirements
  • Identify medicaid essentials
  • Implement program in current work
  • Recognize the future of Medicaid
CEU Credit Available!

The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well. For more information on CEU credits go to: NASW Continuing Education Instructions.

Interested in Joining the Webinar?

*No registration is required; simply go to Part 1 Medicaid and Military Families: An Introduction the day of the event to join. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation. You can connect to the Adobe webinar using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream.


This post was written by Mikala Whitaker, MFLN- Military Caregiving Social Media assistant, and published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on November 17, 2014.

 

November Caregiving Webinar: Suicide Risk Assessment & Prevention

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Join the Military Caregiving Concentration team as they host their FREE monthly professional development webinar on the topic of ‘Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention.’

Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern
Event Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1712
*No registration is required.

Edgar Villarreal, Ph.D., a Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Clinical Psychologist from the Department of Veterans Affairs, will provide a step-by-step approach to assessing, mitigating and documenting suicide risk when working with wounded service members and their families. The 60-minute presentation will offer techniques to better prepare service providers on how to manage challenges relating to suicides in the military.

CEU Credit Available!

The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well. For more information on CEU credits go to: NASW Continuing Education Instructions.

Interested in Joining the Webinar?

*No registration is required; simply go to Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention  the day of the event to join. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation. You can connect to the Adobe webinar using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on November 6, 2014.

 

Are You a Caregiver?

The term ‘caregiver’ can be defined as an individual that provides care, whether it is paid or unpaid, to someone with an impairment. However, when we hear the term ‘caregiver’ our thoughts are immediately drawn to the idea of caring for an aging adult. The term may be hard to accept, especially if you are caring for a younger adult…say from the military perhaps.

As a military spouse or family member caring for your wounded service member, the term ‘caregiver’ may not even cross your mind. You assume as spouse or family member that it is just part of caring for the individual you love. In reality, we are all caregivers at some point in our life – caring for our children, parent, spouse or friend.

In the video below Michael Roos, Military Family Life Counselor at Joint Base Lewis McChord, explains his thoughts on the term ‘caregiver.’ Listen to the video below and how his comments may relate to your personal experience.

How do you define ‘caregiving?’ Do you consider yourself a caregiver?

For military spouses, families or friends caring for wounded, ill and injured service members, it is important to understand that you are now taking on a new role as ‘Military Caregiver.’ While you may not see yourself as a caregiver, it is important to identify yourself in this role in order to understand specific education and information related to your service member’s injury or condition and how it may affect you.

So I ask the question again – How do you define ‘caregiving?’ Do you consider yourself a caregiver?


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on October 28, 2014.

October Caregiving Webinar: Marital Conflict

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Join us this month as we host our FREE monthly caregiving professional development webinar, Handling Marital Conflict Constructively: It Starts with Me, and Begins with “I.”

Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. – Noon Eastern
Event Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1688

Michael Roos, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Anuway Counseling, LLC and a Military Family Life Counselor at Magellan Health Services at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will introduce participants to the primary origins of marital conflict within the military. Military service members and their spouses often experience unique challenges that come with military life, for instance, frequent deployments, long distance relationships, and challenges if the service member becomes wounded in combat. Roos will share with participants how conflict develops within relationships and how to confront such conflicts instead of avoid it, and to work together to bring about resolve and growth as a couple.

CEU Credit Available!

The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well. For more information on CEU credit go to: NASW Continuing Education Instructions.

Interested in Joining the Webinar?

*No registration is required; simply go to Handling Marital Conflict Constructively the day of the event to join. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream. You can connect to the Adobe webinars using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on October 13, 2014.

Caregiver Compassion Fatigue

Is your service member experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or has he/she been exposed to traumatic events while serving? Has these traumatic events indirectly affected your ability to care, causing burnout and significant distress? If so, you may be at risk for a phenomenon called compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress (STS). Compassion fatigue, if not treated, can lead to impairment in social and occupational functioning.

What is compassion fatigue or STS? STS is ‘a syndrome of symptoms nearly identical to PTSD except that exposure to a traumatizing event experienced by one person becomes a traumatizing event for the second person’ (Figley, 1999). Compassion fatigue can occur in spouses or partners and children of service members who have experienced combat. Also professionals working with wounded warriors can indirectly be affected, limiting their ability to provide the necessary services for families and service members. Be aware of the symptoms that may be causing you compassion fatigue or STS. Symptoms may include:

  • Distressing dreams related to your service member’s traumatic experiences
  • Functional impairment due to family, social and occupational environments
  • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the service member’s experiences
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Irritability, frustration, or anger

Click on the image below for an illustrated look at additional symptoms related to compassion fatigue.

Compassion Fatigue

 

 

Self-Care for Compassion Fatigue

Caregivers – you can minimize the negative impact of compassion fatigue by learning a few simple self-care techniques. Brian Bride, Ph.D., professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia suggests’ using the “A-B-C’s of Self-Care.”

Awareness:

    • Recognize and identify compassion fatigue symptoms.
    • Monitor changes in symptoms over time.
    • Recognize and monitor changes in your functioning.

Balance:

    • Prioritize your personal life.
    • Attend to your physical health.
    • Seek therapy or counseling.

Connection:

    • Prioritize your relationship with family and friends.
    • Honor your connection to community.
    • Revitalize your sense of life’s purpose and meaning.

For more information on compassion fatigue and STS within the military, check out Dr. Bride’s recent presentation on Compassion Fatigue and self-care strategies for military caregivers and professionals.

What you once thought was stress related to your caregiving role, may actually be secondary effects from your service member’s traumatic experiencing while serving. Start today by learning how to identify and manage compassion fatigue in your caregiving role, so you can move forward to a healthier lifestyle for you and your service member.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on October 7, 2014. 

Caregiver Webinar Recap: Give Care, Take Care

iStock_000020584967MediumLast week the Military Caregiving Concentration team presented on the topic of Give Care, Take Care. The webinar included tips for military professionals and caregivers working with wounded service members in areas of autonomy and decision-making ability, Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), and finally learning to take care and give care. The goal of the presentation was to provide basic knowledge and some critical thinking skills so caregivers can effectively “give care” to their wounded warrior, while “taking care” of themselves.

Below we will briefly review lessons learned from the event. Remember, you can still view the presentation and receive continuing education credit and a certificate of completion by going to Give Care, Take Care.

Autonomy & Decision-Making

We togetherWhen a service member becomes wounded our first instinct as a caregiver is to take on all responsibilities and decisions. However, we often forget the importance that is placed on making one’s own decision and choices and how to respect the autonomy of the warrior as a surrogate decision-maker. Independence and self-esteem are promoted when the service member is able to have a say, even when the decision is simply to pick out an item of clothing for the day. Caregivers must be able to assess and recognize the services member’s abilities which will ultimately encourage the individual to feel that he/she still has some form of control.

ADLs & IADLs

ADLs are basic tasks which must be accomplished to function independently such as bathing, eating, dressing and undressing, toileting and transferring and positions. IADLs are tasks which support independent function and support life but are NOT necessarily critical. Examples of IADLs include grooming and hygiene, walking, cooking, grocery shopping, managing medications, etc.

When a wounded service member is unable to perform these activities, caregivers must step-in to provide assistance. These activities do not come without their challenges and is where the “give care” and “take care” theory comes into play.

Woman caring for sick manGive Care, Take Care

The term “give care” is simply stated–caregivers are providing care through assistance with various ADLs and IADLs. A few examples of caregiver strategies for “giving care” when it comes to eating include:

  • Beware of food hot enough to burn if the service member has weakness, shakiness or problems with grip.
  • Make sure service member’s mouth is empty before each subsequent bite.
  • Don’t rush the service member while he/she is eating.

In order to “give care,” “caregivers must learn to “take care” as well. By learning “take care” strategies, caregivers not only provide enhanced care for the service member but will increase their own personal well-being. For example, learn to practice good body mechanics and know your limitations to providing care.

While caring for a service member may seem a natural extension of one’s relationship, basic tasks associated with caregiving can become challenging and daily activities that were once simple may result in new approaches to care. For an in-depth look into decision-making, ADLs & IADLs, and giving and taking care, checkout the full presentation at Give Care, Take Care.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on September 23, 2014.

September Caregiving Webinar: Give Care. Take Care.

Join us on Wednesday, September 17 @ 11:00 a.m. EDT as we host our FREE monthly professional development webinar entitled, Give Care. Take Care, presented by Andy Crocker.

Watch and listen as Andy provides a sneak peek into what you can expect from the upcoming September 17th webinar.

How to Join the Webinar

*No registration is required; simply go to Give Care. Take Care. the day of the event to join. The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well.

The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream. You can connect to the Adobe webinars using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on September 2, 2014.

Caregiver Mini Series: 444 Days in the First Year (Series Finale)

“…to this day I still cringe when someone refers to me as a widow.”

The first few days following my husband passing are still very much a blur.  I can remember the flight home, the loneliness that consumed me, and the reality that slowly began to sink in.  I was used to not having my service member home, however knowing I would never hear his voice, feel his touch, or have him hold me was almost too much for my mind to comprehend.

There was so much to do, and I was extremely overwhelmed.  I had plenty of friends and family around me but I still felt very alone.  There was so much to do and I was not quite sure where to start.  My mind raced. My heart pounded.  With every new thought I was once again reminded that I was alone.

No one could have prepared me for the transitional process, or the journey I was about to embark on.  I felt separated from those around me.  I was no longer part of the “active duty” family that I had known for so long, yet I did not quiet feel as though I fit in with the civilian world either.  I felt like an imposter in many ways, simply because I didn’t know what to feel or where I fit in.

My military friends were beginning to welcome their service member’s home, and I was in the beginning processes of “clearing housing.”  I didn’t want to be treated differently and to this day I still cringe when someone refers to me as a “widow.”  My entire world and everything in it was different.

Things moved so quickly that there was no time for me to even process what was going on around me.  Before I knew it, I was packing up our household goods and placing our entire life in boxes.  I was once again saying goodbye to something that I could never get back.  The last home Steve and I shared together would soon be occupied by another family trying to make their way in the uncertain world of the military life–I was to begin mine alone without him.

Grieving for what is Lost

For the military spouse, packing up and moving regularly is part of the military culture. However for a military spouse whose service member has passed away, the familiarity of packing up household goods, and clearing quarters quickly becomes unfamiliar territory.

Typically speaking, when a loved one passes away we are able to choose a little more freely the rate at which we will go through the grieving process.  We are able to reminisce with friends and family as we rummage through our memories, shared experiences, and material belongings or we have the ability to say, “I don’t feel up to this right now.”

When a Service Member passes away however, the entire process seems to be expedited.  Quickly quarters are to be cleared, a new home must be found, and papers must be signed. I remember feeling angry. I felt robbed of the ability to have any time to process what was going on around me, and it was the one time I wanted someone to understand and realize what it was they were asking me to do…I was a widow.

The transitional process that a military family will go through after their service member passes is different in many aspects than that of a civilian. Getting “stuck” in the grieving process is highly possible, especially for those families who never have the opportunity such as I, to be with their loved one during their final hours.

I am so grateful for the many wonderful people who were there during my time of darkness, and there are no words to describe the gratitude I have for those individuals. I realize I am blessed in many ways to have had the opportunities that I did, however I feel as though the need to take a closer look at the transitional process for the wounded family is real. I find myself wondering how many other spouses, children, mothers, fathers, and family members feel as though their ability to grieve has been stunted, or as if they are stuck within the process simply because of the expedited nature.

Missed the beginning of the series? Go to ‘The Phone Call’ to read the first installment of this caregiver series.


Tabitha_FamilyMeet Tabitha…

The caregiving mini-series, 444 Days in the First Year, was written by Tabitha McCoy. Tabitha is a contributor to the MFLN–Military Caregiving concentration team and is a former military caregiver to her husband, SGT Steve McCoy. In this mini-series, Tabitha shares her personal story of caregiving, loss, grieving, and transitioning, as well as insight and advice for both professionals and family caregivers as she recounts the 444 days following her husband’s injuries and then unfortunately his death in June 2008.

Tabitha holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and is currently a graduate student at Valdosta State University where she is pursuing her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on August 29, 2014.

Military Caregiving Educational Course NOW Available!

Caregiver CourseNew military caregiving online course entitled, The Unique Challenges of Military Caregivers, is now available. The course was created under the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Wounded Warrior Program and provides insight into the life of military caregivers and identifies the many challenges they may face. Emphasis is placed on possible resources and supports that professionals can reference or share when working with military caregivers and families.

To view the course, go to The Unique Challenges of Military Caregivers.

Course Background

Spouses, partners, parents and others become a caregiver of military personnel when they learn their loved one is wounded while serving. These hidden heroes are at the bedside of their service members and with them until they learn to live a “new normal.” Military caregivers focus on their wounded warriors often at the determent of their own health and well-being. Being a military caregiver isn’t easy as they advocate for their warrior, provide medical care and deal with the uncertainty of their future. They do this while also continuing as a parent, employee, spouse or other life roles.

Professionals often don’t recognize the essential role military caregiver’s play in the service member’s healing process. The caregiver provides information to medical staff or other professionals when the wounded warrior can’t remember or doesn’t want to accept the reality of their situation. Since they are a critical part of the service member’s care team, professionals need to understand the trials and tribulations military caregivers face daily.

Upon completion of the course, professionals should be able to recognize a variety of caregiver challenges and identify resources and support services to address each challenge. *The course may take approximately 45-60 minutes to complete.


The Unique Challenges of Military Caregivers course was created by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Wounded Warrior Program. Course content was developed by Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D., owner of MBP Consulting, LLC and Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

This article was originally published Tuesday, August 19, 2014 on the Military Families Learning Network blog, a part of eXtension.

AUGUST CAREGIVING WEBINAR: Compassion Fatigue

cover_fatigueMark your calendars for Wednesday, August 20th at 11:00 a.m. EDT as we host our FREE monthly professional development webinar entitled, Caregiver Compassion Fatigue, presented by Brian Bride, Ph.D.

*No registration is required; simply go to https://learn.extension.org/events/1604 the day of the event to join. All interested participants are encouraged to attend. 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit is available for credentialed participants (pending approval from NASW).

Webinar Background

The negative impact of traumatic events can extend beyond those who directly experienced the trauma to family members and professionals who support the traumatized individual. As such, military caregivers are at risk for a phenomenon called compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress.

Compassion fatigue may lead to impairment in social and occupational functioning for many military caregivers. During the webinar, Dr. Bride will introduce participants to the concept of compassion fatigue, describe its symptoms, and discuss strategies to minimize the negative impact of compassion fatigue.

How to Join the Webinar

To connect to this webinar, go to Caregiver Compassion Fatigue the day of the event. Remember, no registration is required to join.

The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream. You can connect to the Adobe webinars using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on August 8, 2014.