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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): The Wounded Soldier of Today

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Wounded Soldier of Today

Most of us still remember the scandals and the outright mess that was happening within the Army healthcare system, particularly at Walter Reed Hospital. We heard wounded soldiers, some severely disabled seemingly thrown out with the trash. I know that sounds harsh, but that's what it amounted to. I remembered thinking...how is the military going to clean up this mess? How are they going to revamp a way to care for these soldiers..sometimes indefinitely? Why am I even talking about it? I think that every military spouse should be familiar with the system. It is actually comforting to see what is being done now to change it...which you won't find in the news unfortunately. We also need to get with the program because we, that's you and your military spouse, may find yourself confronted with the system some time in the near future. No one likes to talk about it, but it is a reality, and the more you know, the easier you'll find to deal with it should it happen to your family.

The Army has taken a genuine interest in improving care for our soldiers. There have already been some significant changes. The following are some of the new changes out there, as I have heard them discussed.

  • As with any soldier, wounded soldiers now have a mission...one mission only, "to get well". Before, they were in a kind of a medical hold with no mission, direction, motivation or supervision. Now they have all four. This means there will be accountability and responsibility, both from the soldier and his now new chain of command, which now includes squad and platoon leaders. These leaders will be getting special duty pay, more in the line with what recruiters, drill sergeants and other soldiers in intense jobs get. I think the aim here is to get soldiers to look at a tour at Walter Reed or any other Army hospital in one of these "wounded warrior" units as a positive career move and something that stellar and above-average soldiers apply for.
  • The military healthcare system, when it comes to moving soldiers from the battlefield, to the various stops and hospitals in between, has turned into some kind of movement tracking system, like FEDEX or the US post office...or at least this is the ultimate plan! At any given time, doctors can check where a patient is, what has been done, the status of the patient and maybe even what he had for lunch...I don't know...and pass this information on to the family.
  • The military even makes provisions and handles the bureaucratic red tape, should family members want to visit their soldier overseas, such as at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany. Only a set number of family members can travel at government expenses (it may only be four). You've never seen paperwork processed that fast. With that being said, I would personally make sure I always had a current and valid passport, just for that reason should you ever need to make such a trip..plus, it's good to be ready should your husband spring a Caribbean vacation on you. Your husband can get you one on post or get the paperwork at your nearest post office that has a passport office.
  • All the paperwork places and appointment places soldiers have to go are now consolidated in one place. Before, soldiers didn't know where to go, how to get there and many had to navigate long walks on crutches and deal with weird office hours, traipsing all over the compound to find what they were looking for.
  • Family members are met at the airport (I think even in a limousine) and taken where they need to go. Family members, or whomever the soldier wants to be a part of his care team (even a girlfriend) can participate in the recovery plan.
  • Family members are given a handbook with every reference, resource and every tidbit of information they need to know. No more will the soldier's family be left in the dark and not know what to do, who to call or where to go. Everything will now be at their fingertips.
  • Patient care and accountability have become more stream-lined and efficient with more changes to come.
  • I believe patients can choose which military hospital they want to recover in. This would be great if you have family near a certain base or post.
  • Wounded soldiers can choose to go back to the unit they came from, after they recover. Before, they were just assigned wherever. This can be a significant negative emotional and even physical event. Research has shown, many soldiers want to go back to their old units. This will be a motivation for them and aid in their recovery.
  • More than 50%, I think even approaching 80% of soldiers are returned to duty. That is great news and important to keep in mind. Not all wounded warriors are totally disabled and leave the military. Many can do their same jobs and others can be reclassified into other jobs.
  • There is now a better dialogue and sharing of information between the VA and the military medical system. This means things move much faster in establishing any aftercare and benefits.
What have you heard? What have you experienced? Good or bad? Let's hear it!

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5 Comments:

Blogger stuffed said...

I heard this yesterday...
http://gocomics.typepad.com/the_sandbox/2008/01/tbi---salzman.html

January 22, 2008 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Patty said...

I think it is all great, I just hope that the military follows through and keeps the process up even after all of the aftershocks of the conditions at Walter Reed have died down.

January 23, 2008 at 1:34 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

Stuffed, thanks for the link. Even though we were briefed on the changes at Walter Reed..we did not hear a lot about the traumatic brain injuries (TBI). I don't know how many resources are committed to that arena or what is exactly being done.

I would hope that soldier has a copy of his record to see if he was tested for that...and then go from there. If not, he needs to get himself back into the system...may not be as easy as it sounds.

Even with all these changes...I still wonder...yes, we have many thousands coming back injured..there are the ones you can see...limbs missing or other physical injuries...but what about the many more who come back mentally broken...or those such as this guy with brain injuries...both large and small...how will they recover...if they recover at all? Who will compensate them when they can no longer work...and live 50-80 more years? Is any money being earmarked for them to live on and to service their injuries? Will we have the doctors and staff in the VA system to deal with this influx? I do wonder...

Patty, I sure hope it isn't all fluff or window dressing...

January 23, 2008 at 3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://wifeofawoundedsoldier.blogspot.com/

July 18, 2008 at 4:00 AM  
Blogger CLG said...

http://wifeofawoundedsoldier.blogspot.com/

July 18, 2008 at 4:01 AM  

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