So you've accomplished the difficult task of making a move after an injury, and now it's time to settle in. Odds are your new daily routine won't mirror the one you had before your loved one's injury. Creating new plans and adjusting family roles in day-to-day life will probably be necessary. Here are some tips to help you create a new routine for your family that will ensure that everyone feels valued and supported.
Mapping out your routine
Planning out your family's new routine is going to take some thought and organization. Getting input from each family member will make sure that everyone's feelings and commitments are considered and help everyone realize that they play an important role in the household. Below are some suggestions for hammering out your new routine and getting everyone on board:
- Create a list of daily or weekly tasks. Putting each household chore down on paper shows you everything that needs to be covered, and having a list to show everyone in the family will help them get a better sense of all that needs to be done on a regular basis.
- Have a family meeting to assign household duties. Bring your list of tasks to the meeting and let everyone read over it. Have each family member select some duties that they would prefer to handle. You may have to assign some, but asking for their input first may make them more willing to pitch in.
With your loved one's injury, odds are that your daily tasks have changed, as well. Take into account what he or she is able to do around the house now and slowly give those tasks back to your spouse. Be careful not to overload him or her initially, especially if any of the tasks need to be relearned as a result of your spouse's injury. Allow extra time in the beginning, and have lots of patience.
- Build and get to know your loved one's new medical and caregiving team. Decide which services will be needed on an ongoing basis and seek referrals for this type of professional. Your loved one's service branch will likely connect you with most medical professionals, but if you require additional day-to-day assistance, such as home health aides or respite care, you may want to research the reputable companies in your new area. Include your spouse in the process, or even have him or her complete some of the research.
- Determine what adaptations will be needed. Will you need ramps installed? Will door frames need to be widen to accommodate a wheelchair? Will you need a wheelchair accessible vehicle or adaptations made to a current one so that your spouse can operate it? Think about your service member's day-to-day life and determine any boundaries or current difficulties. These will help you see what adaptations would help them function better in your new home.
- Make child care arrangements. If child care is needed, seek information on the type of care you are looking for - in-home or a daycare setting. Share your information with your spouse and decide together about the best arrangements for your children.
- Schedule family time. While it may not seem like you could fit one more thing into your day, scheduling in some family time is important during this time of transition. If you have children, this will help keep their stress levels lower by maintaining some normalcy in the middle of so many changes. Eat dinner together, or plan a family movie or game night to ensure that you hang on to quality time with your spouse and children as you adapt to your new routine.
Finding resources as you plan your new routine
With all of these changes in your life, you may be feeling overwhelmed and wondering how you will be able to handle everything. Whether your spouse is now a veteran or working towards returning to active duty, as a service-connected family you are never alone. Assistance may be available for many of the items listed above. Contacting the agencies below will help you understand what benefits your family is eligible for and will point you in the right direction to begin applying:
- Service Wounded Warrior Program - Your service's wounded warrior program offers support through their three R's - recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. As a member of this program, service members receive support for life. Related to a move, Wounded Warrior Programs may be able to assist with needs like lodging and housing arrangements, child care, respite care, transportation needs and housing adaptations. Each service has its own separate program with different offerings:
- Relocation Assistance Program - The Relocation Assistance Program on or near your new installation is a wonderful place to start. It provides information on housing, child care, spousal employment, help managing the emotional effects of relocation and relocation counseling. In the case of a wounded soldier, RAP can offer transition assistance and can coordinate with Warriors in Transition programs.
- Disabled Transition Assistance Program - Service members separating with medical disabilities are encouraged to attend a DTAP class, which is designed to cover all the services available to veterans, including the disability compensation process, Veterans Affairs medical services and the vocational rehabilitation and employment program. More information is available through the VetSuccess website.
- Rehabilitation and employment services - The VA helps disabled service members and veterans transition out of the military by offering rehabilitation and employment services including counseling, education and training, job assistance, and financial aid. To be eligible, you must have a service-connected disability and require vocational rehabilitation. The program is also available to active-duty service members awaiting discharge because of a disability. More details are available at the VetSuccess website.
- VA Housing grants - For veterans with a service-connected disability, the VA offers a variety of housing grants for building, buying or adapting a house to meet their needs. Visit the VA website to find out if your loved one qualifies for assistance.
- Car adaptation grants - For veterans and service members with service-connected disabilities, the VA offers a one-time payment of up to $11,000 toward the purchase of an automobile. The VA may also pay for adaptive equipment, repair, replacement or reinstallation of equipment. Visit Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service.
Coping with stress
Starting over in a new place is always challenging, but it can be extra challenging when you are also helping a family member with an injury adjust. While you may be inclined to focus on all other members of the family, remember that it's important to manage your own emotional health, as well. Seeking support from one or more of the below sources may help you keep your stress at a manageable level:
- Ask for help from family and friends. Family and friends are often eager to help you but don't know specifically how. Reach out to your support system, and ask for help when you need it. Perhaps a friend wouldn't mind watching the children for a few hours so that you can relax or finish up some unpacking. A family member would probably be more than willing to provide dinner one night to save you some time and stress. Reach out to your support system, and ask for help when you need it to get through this busy time.
- Visit your Family Service Center. Family Service Centers can provide service members and their families with the additional support they need during and after a move. Center staff can evaluate individuals and refer them to the appropriate support services and programs. Family Service Centers are listed below, and contact information for each installation is available at MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
- Find emotional support. It's easy for emotions to run high during a time of transition with all of the planning and running around. Make sure that you have an emotional outlet if you need it. Perhaps having a cup of coffee with a friend just to chat about your feelings would help, but if you find yourself extremely overwhelmed and in need of deeper support, non-medical counseling is available free of charge to service members and their families. Face-to-face, online and telephone sessions are available through Military OneSource. Call 800-342-9647.
As you go through this challenging process, remember that you are not alone. Ask for help from sources that you are comfortable with, and take advantage of the programs and resources that are available to you. They are designed to simplify your transition.