Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are You Deployment Ready: Your Resources

Preparing for deployment can be overwhelming. Period. You try to get all your "ducks in a row" and try to be ready for anything that life throws at you while your spouse is serving overseas. As much as you try to anticipate what is going to happen during deployment, things are going to transpire that you are not ready for. 

*Take a deep breath*

Its okay, you are a milispouse and you already know to expect the unexpected. Lucky for us, we have resources available to help us.

Fleet and Family Support Centers
This place definitely deserves number one on my personal list because I have used them more times than I can count. The first time I went, we were stationed in Charleston and I simply needed to fax something. Then I went back to get help writing my resume and finding a job. Then I went back to use their printers when mine broke. Then I went back to take a "Smooth Move" class when it came time to PTS. Since moving to Hampton Roads, I have used their resources many more times. 

They offer so many classes it is unbelievable. They offer training for Ombudsman and FRG. They offer financial tutoring: When we first moved here, I made an appointment and sat down with a financial adviser who helped me make a budget. They offer counseling. They are the ones that come out to give families the "Homecoming Brief" and go out to the ship to do the same with the sailors. They have lots of information for new parents. 

FFSC do so many different things to help the families. They are so friendly to talk to and if they can't answer your questions, they will know who to send you to in order to get it!

Military OneSource
These guys do a little bit of everything for the families too, plus you can contact them 24/7. I have used their free H&R Block federal and state tax filing program for the last 2 years. 

They do counseling, they offer 12 face-to-face session for FREE. Plus, it is completely confidential they will not go to your sailor's command with any information (except in cases of abuse or threats of harm to self/others). As a spouse, you can take advantage of the free confidential (your sailor does not have to know) counseling.

They have a plethora of resources available online. Everything from dealing with deployments, financial & legal, to information about education & careers. I like that all of their information is online so when I am awake at 3am with a question I know where I can go to find answers!

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
I am finding more & more information about the services this group provides. I always knew about their Quick Assist Loan Program: Need based, interest-free loans up to $300. Like if your car breaks down suddenly and you need help between paychecks. It takes only 15 minutes to get you QAL at one of their locations. 

They offer the Budget for Babies class to help you prepare financially for a new baby. After taking this class, you get a layette aka baby's first sea bag!

I just recently found out they offer a Visiting Nurse program! I was very excited to find out about this because I wasn't aware a program like this even existed. I have a friend who's sailor is deploying, they have a young child, and she will be giving birth to twins during deployment. How is she supposed to make it to the Dr.'s office, alone, for those first few check-ups with her twins? Or how about this scenario: Say I need surgery for some reason and I am okay enough to not have to stay in the hospital, but I am not mobile enough to make it to follow up Dr. appointments with a toddler in tow. This program would definitely be something I would look into. 

American Red Cross
We all know the Red Cross is who we need to contact if there needs to be an emergency message sent to your sailor (don't forget to tell your ombudsman too!). But I want to delve into exactly what the requirements are for a Red Cross message and what that message does.

A Red Cross message is required by the command in order for your sailor to be granted emergency leave, whether they are at shore or out to sea. *However, this does not mean your sailor will be granted emergency leave.* That decision is entirely up to the command and it will depend on alot of variables like if they can afford to let your sailor come home they may need him on the ship and if they can safely transport your sailor off the ship since they are not always in the safest of locales. Also, not all emergency situations are dire enough for a Red Cross message to be sent. It has to be a life-threatening situation to an immediate family member, the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, or the birth of the sailor's child. Unfortunately, just because you are admitted to the hospital may not be enough for a Red Cross message to be sent (this is where your Ombudsman comes in handy because they can contact the command to let them know the situation). 

The American Red Cross also offers emergency financial assistance. They have information on their website about deployment & reintegration and of course they offer quite a few tips about emergency preparedness.

There are TONS of other resources out there for military families. My friend over at New Mommy Confessions has a nice list of information too. If you have any questions, don't be afraid to email me and I'll point you in the right direction!

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