Tag Archives: militaryfamilies

Caregiver Mini Series: 444 Days in the First Year (Part 2)

The Waiting Room

Waiting RoomThere I sat on the cool leather couch staring out of the large panoramic glass window that looked out into the hallway of the waiting room.

Occasionally the door would open with a nurse, volunteer, or a fellow waiting room family member coming in or out.  Quiet conversation could be heard throughout the waiting room, as I continued to sit in my new ‘home away from home.’

I would watch a little T.V. or watch the hands of the clock continuously chase each other around and around.  “Is this room getting smaller?”  I asked myself.   I would pray, “God please give me strength because I don’t know how much longer I can possibly sit here.”

Some days I just wanted to leave, I needed a break, a walk, anything to get some fresh air.  I just wanted to be anywhere but within the confines of that waiting room.

Caregiver’s Advice to Professionals and Military Families

The “waiting game” is something most military families are accustomed to.  We become numb to the geographical separations we endure, and learn to hope for the best while expecting the worst.  Or so we think, or so I thought…

I am not sure I could have ever prepared myself for what would prove to be the wait of my life–the unknown of whether or not I would get to see my service member today or if he would even make it to a new day. I was trapped in a waiting game.

I can distinctly recall the myriad of conflicting feelings I felt as I sat day-in and day-out, trying my best to patiently wait for the next time I would be allowed to go back and see my service member.  Watching others pass through the halls, the changing shifts of doctors, nurses and volunteer workers.  I remember thinking on more then one occasion, “I just want to leave”.  I had no real plans of truly going anywhere, I just wanted to be anywhere but right there in that moment.  Of course those feelings were always quickly replaced by feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment.  “How selfish”, I remember thinking. How dare I wish to be anywhere else other than there waiting on my Soldier?

No one ever told me these feelings were okay.  No one ever told me that I could leave, take “a breather”, a break from it all, and not have to feel guilty.  Sure, people would say, “you have to take care of yourself,” but what did that even mean?  So there I would sit, embarrassed, scared and extremely anxious as I continued to wait.  Watching the clock until the minutes turned to hours and the hours into days.

It seems as if these types of feelings are seldom spoke of, and I cannot help but to reflect upon my own personal experience and wonder why as professionals we are not more aware of how it is not just the service member who suffers.  Expectations of recovery should at least in some ways revolve around the wounded family as a whole.  Just as the wounded service member begins immediate treatment, perhaps the family as a whole could benefit from some type of immediate, hands on (i.e., outside of online or web-based groups or forums) family therapy, or support group, or at the very least information on where to find such support.

I was fortunate enough to have an amazing support group.  I had family with me at all times, and I became very close to another wounded family who arrived only a few weeks before us.  The waiting room volunteer’s whom we were blessed with were amazing, and the doctors and nurses who worked with my husband everyday were more than willing to listen to any concerns I had.  However my worry is that not every family will be this fortunate, not every family will have such a strong support group.   As professionals, I think it is our duty to educate ourselves on how to help wounded service members in the most holistic way possible, beginning with the family members who wait.

Missed Part I of the series? Go to ‘The Phone Call’ for read the first installment of the series. 


Tabitha_FamilyThe 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 Masters degree in Marriage and Family.

Outdoor Recreation and Restoration Engagement for Military Caregiver Professionals

Outdoor Recreation BlogDuring a recent Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) webinar, the audience, composed of military caregiving practitioners and professionals, was polled regarding perceptions of outdoor recreation and caregiving.  Participants were asked three questions.

The first question was: “Do you feel that a person involved in delivering outdoor recreation programming could at times find themselves in a caregiver role?”  About 95 percent of participants answered yes, and a small number answered “unsure.” No one answered no. The second question was:  “I know from experience that service men and women have experienced significant therapeutic benefits from outdoor recreation.” About 41 percent answered “strongly agree” and another 50 percent answered “agree.” Less than ten percent answered “no opinion” and no one disagreed with the statement. When the third question was posed, “Is there room in the military caregiver definition to include occasional caregivers who provide important and valuable outdoor recreation and restoration opportunities?” participants answered 100 percent in the affirmative. This points to a need for additional educational and training needs for occasional caregivers, especially in the area of outdoor recreation and restoration and related environmental education topics.

Environmental Education: Engaging Military Communities

To begin to address this gap, Cornell University’s Civic Ecology Lab and EECapacity program are conducting a professional development course entitled, Engaging Military Communities, that is designed for environmental educators and community development professionals interested in working with members of the military community. Exposure to nature through outdoor recreation, gardening, tree planting and similar activities has been especially valuable to returning warriors and their families. The potential impacts include improved personal health, resiliency, strengthening family ties and community cohesion.

NatureThe objective of this course is to increase participants’ capacity to develop programs that increase environmental awareness and utilize the therapeutic value of nature in building resilient communities.  Topics covered in this course will include:

  • Current environmental education related practices that address military communities.
  • Environmental education programming for military families and personnel.
  • The role of nature for community building and therapy for veterans.
  • Environmental Education Guidelines and Military Communities.

This online course duration is four weeks, beginning 05/12/2014 and continuing thru 06/08/2014. This is a 4-week course focuses on developing group projects relevant to the work of environmental education (EE) that addresses the unique perspectives of military communities.

Participants will work on crafting a program plan (outdoor adventure, garden party, tree planting activity, etc.) that combines environmental education in a way that addresses the specific needs of veterans, military families, and/or the broader military community. This class project will serve as one of the key outcomes of the learning experience. Participants will also be exposed to environmental education topics through video, weekly webinars with leaders in the field, as well as print publications.

Note: The course is limited to 30 participants and registration is open from now thru 05/10/2014. To register, please visit the EELearning Portal.


This post was written by Keith Tidball, Ph.D., Senior Extension Associate with the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. Dr. Tidball is a member of the MFLN–Military Caregiving Concentration team. This blog was posted to the Military Families Learning Network site on April 11, 2014.

Preparing Caregivers to Communicate Effectively Using Three Types of Communication Skills Webinar

iStock_000011132527LargeBy Carlee Latham, MFLN–Military Caregiving

Remember to mark your calendars for this Thursday, April 10 at 11:00 am EDT, as the Military Caregiving concentration hosts a professional development webinar on caregiver communication skills.

Preparing Caregivers to Communicate Effectively Using Three Types of Communication Skills will focus on preparing caregivers to have those difficult conversations with a variety of individuals, including military professionals. The presenter, Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D., will help caregivers and professionals:

  • Distinguish between the communication skills of “I messages”, Assertive, and Aikido and the types of situations they are best used in.
  • Identify caregiver situations where professionals could use one of the communication styles.
  • Prepare to use one of the communication skills.

For more information on Thursday’s webinar visit the eXtension website here. Event materials, like the presentation slides and handouts are available within the eXtension Learn site.

The Military Caregiving concentration has applied for 1.00 continuing education credit hour from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Credentialed participants may contact woundedwarrior@ag.tamu.edu for more information.

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

Military Home Buying & Selling

By Molly C. Herndon

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcodePermanent changes of station (PCS) make moves frequent for military families. The complexity of buying and selling a home is compounded by deployments, one-earner incomes, and the slow-to-rebound housing market. In fact, the 2012 FINRA Military Capability Study found 38% of military families have mortgages that are underwater.  So how do military families ease the burden of buying and selling a home? Fortunately, many programs are in place to assist service members and their families with this process.

The Service Member’s Civil Relief Act protects active duty service members and their families from foreclosure, termination of leases, and eviction. In the event a service member has been a victim of a wrongful foreclosure that violates the terms of the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act, they should take legal action.

Service members can also qualify for low-interest home loans using VA home loans or other special loans available to military members.

On April 15, Dr. Barbara O’Neill and Personal Finance Manager Barbara Lang will present Military Home Buying & Selling, a 90-minute webinar that will discuss these and many other home buying and selling options available to service members. This session will be worth 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credentialed participants.

To join this session, click here. Here, you’ll also find supporting resources, the PowerPoint Slides, information about the speakers, and connection information.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on March 31, 2014. 

VA Rural Health Training’s Benefiting Professionals & Caregivers

Rural Health Training Blog PicNEW RESOURCE–The Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Rural Health (ORH) is now providing on-demand education credit, thanks to MyVeHU Campus. MyVeHU Campus provides ten interactive broadcasts that focus on rural health, including two that may be of interest to caregivers and professionals entitled, Chronic Management: Meeting the Challenge in Rural Settings and Caregiver Resources for Aging Rural Veterans. These programs focus on getting your veteran the help they need in rural settings, whether it be pain relief or helping with older veterans in areas without up-to-date technology.

In addition to Chronic Pain and Caregiver Resources trainings, professionals can find rural health specific content on:

  • Post Deployment Care Integration for Rural OEF/OIF/OND Combat Veterans
  • Facilitating Co-Managed Care for the Rural Veteran
  • Rural Community Collaborations and Veteran Outreach
  • Cultural Competence and Caring for the Rural Veteran
  • An Introduction to the VHA Office of Rural Health (ORH)
  • RHPI: CBOC Operations and Issues
  • The Rural CBOC PACT Implementation Experience
  • Rural and Veteran Culture – Times of Change Forum

Accessing MyVeHU
If you are new to MyVeHUV Campus, you will need to enroll before accessing any training. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to access the system by clicking here.

For more information on MyVeHU Campus sessions and support staff, visit Rural Health Training.

Military Caregiving WEBINAR: Guide to Coping with TBI

March 2014 TBI Webinar

Remember to mark your calendars for our Military Caregiving webinar series held Wednesday, March 19 at 11:00 a.m. EDT entitled, A Family Member’s Guide to Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury, presented by Timothy Elliott, Ph.D.

Since March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, the Military Caregiving concentration team will be hosting a free, one-hour professional development webinar on the many issues family members face living with a veteran or service member with TBI.

Dr. Elliott will identify potential problems such as movement, visual impairments, fatigue, memory loss, lack of attention and many more, due to wounded warriors who have experienced TBI. Dr. Elliott will also offer military professionals and families strategies and solutions to these problems so they may begin the journey to ‘creating a new normal.’


No registration is required to join the web conference, simply go to A Family Member’s Guide to Coping with TBI to find connection information and related resources. If you are not on an installation, you may need to install security certificates or use one of the other connection methods.

For more information on upcoming Military Caregiving webinars or the latest caregiving information, connect with us via Twitter or Facebook

Consumer Frauds & the Military

By Molly C. Herndon

Military Service Members are commonly victims of scams. Deployment, moves, and the inexperience of young Service Members make this group especially vulnerable to unscrupulous business and individuals.

Image by NoveltyCREW
Image by NoveltyCREW (creativecommons.org)

By becoming aware of common scams, Service Members can be better prepared for these practices. The Federal Trade Commission website houses a great deal of resources for military families and Service Members. This site is also the place to submit a consumer complaint about a business.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has many resources for Service Members to use to avoid becoming a victim of a scam. This site offers details on VA Benefits scams and information about how the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act grants Service Members additional protection against scams.

On March 20 at 11 a.m. ET, the Military Families Learning Network will present a Personal Finance webinar on Common Consumer Frauds & How to Avoid Them. Dr. Barbara O’Neill will present this 90-minute session worth 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credential participants. Review resources on this topic and join the session here.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on March 10, 2014. 

Factual Friday: March 7, 2014

FactualFriday_030714

The Department of Defense worldwide numbers represent medical diagnoses of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurred anywhere military forces are located, including the continental United States since 2000 (Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), 2014).

This post is part of a series of Factual Friday posts published on the Military Families Learning Network blog.

New Online Stress Course for Military Family Caregivers

Stress CourseThe Many Faces of Stress for Military Family Caregivers course was designed as a free online course to help family members better understand the multiple ways that providing care for their service member can be stressful and guide caregivers to resources that can help alleviate stress.

To take the course, simply click on the Many Faces of Stress for Military Family Caregivers to begin.

The course introduces and explains the concept of identity discrepancy in a way that caregivers can easily understand. Identity discrepancy is an incongruence or misfit between the responsibilities and tasks that a caregiver has assumed and his or her personal expectations regarding care responsibilities.

While many people tend to believe that specific care tasks are the cause of stress for caregivers, identity discrepancy is often the major source of distress and it can lead to multiple types of caregiver stress. Using a story about Marie and Tony, fictional characters with a realistic caregiving background, the course demonstrates how caregiving changes the relationship between the caregiver and the care recipient creating identity discrepancy, which leads to caregiver stress.

As caregivers move through the course they will be challenged to answer a series of specific questions that will help them identify the types of stress they are experiencing and lead them to resources that will help them. Each caregiver will be encouraged to take at least one action step to alleviate his or her stress.

Course content is based on research and publications by Rhonda J.V. Montgomery, Ph.D. and Karl D. Kosloski, Ph.D. The course was originally developed for the U.S. Army Soldier and Family Assistance Centers (SFAC) but is available online for public use. 

*Note: Google Chrome browser is not compatible for this course system.