Preparing Your Military Family for the Danger of Your Job

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ISKANDARIYA, IRAQ - JULY 19, 2011

Although military members are often restricted from sharing details about their deployments and what they do while in the field, armed forces members can help their families understand and prepare for the danger of the job.  There will always be some aspects of your military service that make your loved ones worry.  Because they love you, they will always be concerned when you are in harm’s way.  However, there are some aspects to their worrying that you can alleviate.

Communicate What You Can

Nothing is worse than your imagination running away with you.  The more clear, concrete information your loved ones have about where you are going, who is going with you, and what your mission is, the less they will fear the unknown.  Of course, you should never even come close to betraying any secret or sensitive information about your mission, but do share what you can with your family left at home.

Here are some facts that take some of the pressure and stress off your family.  Your family will already know when you are leaving, but you can also let them know how long you believe you’ll be away if you know.   If you can’t say specifically where you will be stationed, you might be able to disclose the region or continent.

Telling your significant other who is going with you serves two functions.  One is that they will know who’s got your back. Two is that they can stay in contact with their colleagues’ families.  Those other families can provide information, support, and reassurance.

Communication Plan

Plans are just plans.  They aren’t promises.  If your family has lived through your past deployments, they know that things don’t always go according to plan.  However, if you and your loved ones set a goal for communication, including backup plans, that will set up reasonable expectations for the folks at home, waiting for word.  If you leave and they don’t know when to even expect to hear from you, chances are they will make up their mental timeline for it.  That can be more stressful than knowing they’ll only hear something indirectly once a month.

Understand Your VA Benefits

Because you will be away, your significant other will have more work to do in taking care of the family finances and logistics.  Facing the facts of how the system works takes some of the scarier emotions out of the equation.

Before you leave, ensure your spouse knows what benefits are available and how to get them.  Help your partner understand that there are benefits for spouses of deceased veterans as well as for while you are actively deployed.  While no one who cares about you wants to think about what they would do without you, knowing that they will have support will ease a small amount of their worry.

Spouses should understand your pay, your pension, health care coverage, and life insurance benefits.  Your family should also be aware of the less-known benefits such as educational assistance, financial counseling, and job training.

Legal Plan

There are four legal documents to strongly consider setting up to give you and your family peace of mind.  This section applies to people in and out of the military.  It’s just a general plan for the future, to cover the people you care about if issues come up.

Health Care Proxy. A healthcare proxy is a legal document that names a person who can make medical decisions for you if you are unable to.  Note that if you can communicate with your doctors, you get to decide what medical treatments you get.  A healthcare proxy is for those rare occasions when you are not able to communicate.  These often come into play when you are temporarily unconscious, such as when you need surgery.

Health Care Advance Directives.  Sometimes this document is also referred to as a Living Will.  Health Care Advance Directives are your written instructions for what health care treatments you do and don’t want.  Think of your advance directives as the instructions you want your healthcare proxy to follow.  Also, what you write in this document will help your medical team advise the person who is your proxy.

Will.  Most adults know they should have a will, but maybe not why.  A will makes your wishes known for how to handle your money and possessions after you pass away.  A will is a huge gift to your loved ones, who will not be burdened with the decisions and administrative hassle of figuring out what to do while also grieving for you.

SOURCEVA.gov

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