Check Yes or No

Today we have LAW sharing a very informative post on a little check box. LAW responded to Riding the Roller Coaster's FB plea a few weeks back saying I was in need of guest bloggers. Thanks so much LAW! Be sure to show her some of your Lovely lovin' :)

"There's a song that has been running through my head for the past few days.  "Check Yes or No" (George Strait) **  It started the ear worm journey when I read a post from Admiral Mullen who wants to do away with a certain check box.  During those days and weeks before deployment, service members fill out forms for pay,  insurance, wills, there's a whole checklist of medical, GI Bill of rights, dog tags... and somewhere in that stack, is  THE  check box, a check box that asks if the service member's family wants to be contacted.  Too many service members check - No.   I remember a form that asked for email addresses, and usually the service member put in HIS (or her) email address, not the address for their spouse.  As Admiral Mullen said about his effort to get rid of this box:
This effort will be a step toward keeping families better informed, and also will help to close a gap, particularly for Guard and Reserve families who often are far from the support of a military installation.....
I know there are FRGs that only contact the family members when they are fund raising, that do nothing at all for the families or that turn into a Peyton Place -  we all know those.  We all know that there are as many dysfunctional  FRGs as there are functional ones.  But.  And it's a major But.   Without the ability or permission to contact the family - the families miss out.  Not just on the holiday party or the Easter Bunny hunt - but on the  "just for military families" opportunities, the changes in certain benefits and most importantly on the support, the camaraderie, the family that will hold them up and be there at 2 am when they need it, the other men and women who do understand what they are going through and can empathize.

Talking to a former FRG leader, she remembered the young NCO who told her  that his wife didn't need any help, she had her support network of her family and friends and he didn't want her to be bothered by the unit.  Since our unit tends to not deploy en masse, we don't usually know who might be downrange, when and for how long, so we don't have phone trees or contact lists.  The soldier left, and the spouse called - she was having an emergency and her support network - well -  it wasn't!   I've talked to other family support leaders, who say the same thing - it's usually the military servicemember who is nervous about having his spouse talking to the rest of the unit, or the spouse who has had to go through a deployment with a dis-functional FRG that soured their outlook, and very often those are the ones who really need the contact, the help and the support.

The frustration of knowing that there are young spouses and family members out there, who WANT to know what is going on, and cannot understand why no one has called them - reading the "please help me, I don't understand" emails, blog comments or letters to military family websites from the families that need help and aren't getting that support - drives me batty.  We are a small microcosm of the public - we are that 1%.  We need to support each other - answer that call, be there for that cup of coffee or lunch, send a note, or just hang out together.  If we don't know who is out there - we can't help.
So - let's start a conversation - do you agree with Admiral Mullen?  Do you want to be left alone during deployment, or would you appreciate that phone call or the email from the family support?"


Monica A. Heimes said...

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JG said...

Makes sense to me. I don't understand why they would want to opt-out anyway.

Jessica @ {Mis}Adventures of an Army Wife said...

In my experience, it's always the people that check "no" to that box that need the most help. They are also the ones who have "emergencies" because they didn't have the resources to do forward planning.

Personally, I'm an information fiend. I love, love, love knowing what is going on even if it doesn't apply to me. I honestly don't understand people who don't want to receive information from the unit. How can you not want to know what's going on? My theory is I may not need the info but maybe someone I know might need the info.

addicted2shius said...

I definitely want someone to reach out. I, of course, have an awesome family. But not everyone does. And even if they did, are they military? Can they possible understand what we're going thru? They can try. But you can never truly understand it unless you've been thru it yourself.

Carmen said...

I don't think being left alone is very healthy during deployment. Every once in a while I wanted to be by myself to just think but I would have always wanted that support from other wives or from the FRG. I think that spouses need to be informed and supportive of each other during times like that. Thanks for the post LAW!

Jessica said...

I want to be informed, but we are 5 months into our deployment and I've only heard from my FRG leader when we get a "red" message. I don't know if it's because we are stationed in NY and I came home to AL while he's gone... but I would like to be more informed.

Thanks for the post!

Wife on the Roller Coaster said...

Great post LAW! I'm definitely the type of person who wants to be in the know. I don't care how that news affects me, whether is scares me or reassures me, I want to know what's going on. I fully understand spouses who don't want possible scary news (which is why I stopped reading newspapers when my husband was deployed), but we all need that support. Our families and civilian friends can give us only so much support. We need the support of other people who know exactly what we're going thru because they're living it too. And I agree with Jessica, that it's the people who check no who need the most help. You give us all a lot to think about LAW. Thanks for sharing!

Ashleigh said...

oh, we need to stay informed for sure!