Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons.
April is the Month of the Military Child. Deployments and serving in the military is tough on the servicemember and the spouse, but it’s equally as hard (if not harder) on the servicemember’s children. Military children often need more support than a civilian child, especially during deployments.
This month, to honor our military children, I’m dedicating each Monday to Month of the Military Child. Since we don’t have children, I’ve asked a few guests to blog about their experiences with military children and provide some insight into how we can help these children excel during what may be the toughest time of their young lives.
My second guest post of the month is about a side of the service that is often overlooked… the Reserve side. As a reservist myself, I thought it was important to highlight the children who live as civilian children… until they are thrust into the military life with a deployed parent.
This guest post will also highlight some fantastic organizations that can help both active and reserve families.
Hi all! I am so excited to do this post for Wife of a Sailor because there are so many things available to help through deployment that many just don’t know about!
Let me introduce us – My husband calls me Princess so that’s what I go by… so that makes me a Soldiers Princess (I just love saying that). I am a 30ish wife of a deployed soldier (a 16 month deployment, thank you Army Reserves!) and mom to a 6 year old (although she often reminds me that she is ALMOST 7, in fact that reminder started the day AFTER her 6th birthday), AKA Diva. We live in Southern California and LOVE it here. I work full time; run my custom military wife shirt company, volunteer a lot and act as taxi service for Diva. I also write a blog over at tiarasandacus.blogspot.com. It’s my place to clear my head, rant about stupid people and this deployment… but also to offer my sound (loopy at times) advice on all things deployment related. I have found great comfort in not being alone thanks to the blogfamily!
My husband is in the Army Reserves. We have a much different life than an Active Duty family, mainly when deployment comes around. We have to learn about Tricare, which we only have for a year at a time. We have to switch doctors for a YEAR… of course our civilian Dr does NOT take Tricare and the Tricare Dr does not take Blue Shield! We don’t necessarily live close to a post to use the Commissary or the PX. We don’t have military wife friends that can sympathize or offer their support. We have civilian friends who compare a deployment with their husbands 4 day business trip to Topeka, KS. (They totally understand being a single mom for a bit… REALLY!?) There is no concept of living each day worrying about your soldier, your child… your future. With all that said, there are some benefits for wives and our kids because of the reserves.
First of all please try to attend the unit’s Yellow Ribbon Briefing – There are a series of classes. The one prior to deployment is mandatory for your soldier and optional for the family. As the wife, it’s a great thing to go to. You can learn a little about your benefits and who to call during deployment for your medical, in case of emergency… those things. The Army pays for your travel, hotel and per diem for you and your children (no matter how many rugrats you have, they even provide childcare!).
I will admit my MilSpouse friend and I are using an upcoming one as a girls’ weekend on the Army! It’s boring as heck for most of it (a 53 slide PowerPoint presentation on what to do if you by chance have $500,000 in the bank. Most of our guys didn’t have $5 in the bank due to a pay mess up but whatever) BUT there is some useful information and phone numbers you can get to help. There are also 2 or 3 done after the deployment starts. I have avoided most as I can’t stand sitting in a classroom with a bunch of gossipy wives BUT I am going to the one about reintegration because, lets be honest it’s a concern we all have.
OurMilitaryKids (www.ourmilitarykids.org/ ) – AMAZING group that will provide UP TO $500 for extracurricular activities for your children includingsports, fine arts and tutoring. We all know that our kids need to stay busy while their mom or dad is deployed… both for their sanity and ours. This grant is given based on cost of activity and length of deployment. We used it for gymnastics and it paid for 8 months of her gymnastics class, and then reapplied for tutoring. It was very easy to do. I supplied a copy of orders, LES and information for the activity. The check was sent directly to them within a few weeks. You can also apply for a grant more than once in a 365 day deployment.
NACCRA – (www.naccrra.org/) National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. Many of us either work or go to school so taking our spouse out of the picture makes life difficult for scheduling. When hubby is home we can switch off on who drops off or picks Diva from school. NACCRA supplements your daycare cost and will help you locate a daycare if needed based on the nearest branch post. Ours is based off of daycare costs in BARSTOW and we live in Orange County. They pay everything over what the average daycare is on Fort Irwin. I had to supply copies of my pay stubs (or school schedule if you are in school), his LES, the daycare needs to be approved as well. The last day of every month I fill out a form showing what days she went to daycare, then the daycare and I sign it and email it. The check takes about 15 days to receive to daycare. This is in place for the entire deployment!
Tutor.Com – (www.tutor.com/military) Free online tutoring for the children of a deployed service member. We haven’t signed up for this mainly because our daughter is in 1st grade and it doesn’t seem to be very user friendly for that age.
Keeping busy throughout the deployment is needed and helpful to pass the time.
Check back next Monday for another awesome guest blogger!