Sometimes the act of asking for help can be more difficult than just doing the task yourself. Military families are not strangers to adjusting family roles and taking on extra responsibilities, especially during times of deployment. Asking for help and allowing yourself to receive help can be two of the most challenging aspects of adjusting your life while your soldier is deployed. There are several reasons why it is important to share your burdens, and ways to go about it that won’t leave you feeling helpless or alone.
Why Accept Help?
Whether you are the spouse, sibling, child, or parent of a soldier, your life alters when your soldier is deployed. The contributions your soldier would typically make at home, both tangible and emotional, can’t easily be replaced. However, allowing those around you to help you not only eases your responsibility load, but it can give someone who is helping a feeling of contributing to more than just your family. For those people without loved ones in the military, assisting those who do have soldiers in their lives can be one way they are able to support military families and the troops. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons of all, though, why accepting help is a positive thing, is that it will give peace of mind to your soldier to know that you are not alone and that you are supported.
How Can You Ask for Help and Receive It?
First and foremost, don’t just dismiss offers of help or generosity. You don’t need to accept on the spot, but you can let the person know that you appreciate the kindness and that there might be a time in the future when you need the help. You can even ask what the best way is to get ahold of them – phone, email, or other – so that if the need arises you have some way of reaching them and accepting help.
When someone says, “Let me know if there is anything I can do,” you might be tempted to shout, “Make this deployment over today!” However, try to refrain asking nearly the impossible, and instead find some little ways that others might help ease your stress level. These things might be:
- Drive the kids to practice one day a week.
- Provide a meal one day a week.
- Help with a home maintenance project, even as simple as rearranging furniture.
- Assist with yard work.
- Help with pet care – walking the dog and checking in on pets can be ways for even kids to help share the responsibilities at home.
- Be available to listen to the stress so you don’t have to dump on the kids or someone who is going through the same stresses as you are already.
- The list goes on and on!
You can even keep a list handy of “one time” things that you need help with that normally your soldier would be there to do. Keep another list of people who you know are willing to help with certain tasks, and one more list of people who have simply offered to do anything. Even though you might never call upon these people, having the tangible proof that you are surrounded by support can ease stress.
It is important to remember that even if someone hasn’t offered to help, it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t ask. Sometimes people are just waiting for the invitation because they don’t want to offend you and present an image that they don’t think you are capable. You can also seek out other sources of support from places such as:
- Community outreach programs
- Neighborhood groups
- Online forums
- Military resources
Asking for help is not easy for most people, but if we can pay it forward and offer help to others, sometimes that action allows us to accept help at some point in our own lives. In the end it is much better to swallow a little pride, accept the generosity of friends and strangers alike, and take care of yourself as your soldier would want to be able to take care of you.
Photo credit: Tom
Getting mail to our loved ones in Afghanistan can take a long time, internet access can also be sporadic. So the Army has started Hooah Mail. A friend of mine sent me this:
Beginning 1 December 2009 the Army will launch “HooahMail” as a pilot program for fast, easy, secure, letter-style correspondence to OEF deployed Soldiers. Based on a proven system used by the Marine Corps since 2003, HooahMail brings another method to keep in touch with military members in Afghanistan. From Stateside, HooahMail offers a computer based process which will generate a printed, sealed, letter-style document for direct delivery to forward operating bases throughout the OEF area of operations. This one-way system will allow secure download capabilities at selected OEF remote sites. These letters will then be printed on special equipment which will print, fold, seal and address the envelope for free delivery to OEF Soldiers. HooahMail will be distributed just like regular mail through unit mail-rooms. At sites which don’t get daily postal mail service, HooahMail will offer a free, convenient way to communicate. This method could reduce delivery time in some cases from 14+ days to remote locations to same/next day service, with an average 4 days to all other locations in Afghanistan. HooahMail will augment traditional postal letter mail service.
Funded by Department of the Army, and supported by the current postal command structure, HooahMail offers a new and exciting way to strengthen communications to our OEF Soldiers. For more information about HooahMail visit their website at www.hooahmail.us.
What is it?
Soldiers, veterans and survivors of those whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between September 11, 2001 and September 30, 2008 can apply to receive $500 for every month, or portion of a month, they served under Stop Loss. The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act established and largely funded the payment for all military services, but dictated that each service process and pay their own applicants. The Army estimates that 136,000 of the approximately 174,000 eligible servicemembers served in the Army.
What has the Army done?
The Army has created an application process for active-and-reserve component Soldiers, veterans, and survivors of Soldiers to process claims for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay. By law, the Army can only accept claims between October 21, 2009 and October 21, 2010. Eligible candidates must submit their request within this time frame, or the Army will not be able to process their request. The Army has set up an email address to field questions people have regarding the benefit.
How can people apply?
Candidates for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay must submit a claim at Retroactive Stop Loss Web site . This Web site is the preferred method for submitting applications; however, other means for doing so, such as by mail or fax, will be available to those without access to computers. Additional communications will provide instructions for alternative forms of submission. During the application process, candidates will be asked to show documentation that indicates the time they served under Stop Loss. The necessary documentation, depending on their type of service, includes the following:
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army will review, process and pay qualified candidates as they submit their applications at Retroactive Stop Loss Web site. Candidates who meet the criteria and show the required documentation will receive their retroactive payment in a one lump sum. The Army will not accept applications submitted after October 21, 2010.
Resources: Retroactive Stop Loss Web site
New to the Army? Help Keep Your Parents in the Loop
If you’ve just joined the Army and your parents aren’t familiar with military life, keep them in the loop with these materials:
The information under “When Your Son or Daughter…” is pretty basic (it’s a starting point), but you should also seek out additional information from sites specific to the military installation/branch of service where your child is undergoing training.
As the parent of a soldier, you should become familiar with some of the other resource information contained on other Army and Dept. of Defense sites for future reference… such as the Army Well-Being site and the Military Homefront page.
I’d really like the Army and the other services to produce content specific to parents (or non-spousal family) with the idea that these people are usually remote (away) from their soldier’s military installation and typically have no idea how to contact the installation or chain of command (or even who that might be) in an emergency… or what resources are available to their soldier/sailor/marine/airman/coastie or to the family member (be that a parent, aunt, uncle, sister or brother…) when faced with serious issues involving their child (for example, post-deployment issues). (And, yes, I know that there are those who actually joined the military to AVOID their parents… but every soldier has a next-of-kin somewhere — that are not “in the loop” but should be!)
I did also find some parent-related information for the other services (some official, some unofficial):
For Air Force Parents
Parents of the Enlisted
For Coast Guard Parents (nice job CG!!) For National Guard Families
For Coast Guard Parents (nice job CG!!)
For National Guard Families