I have always said that if you are going to complain about it, then go figure out how to fix it. I also say all the time don't come to me with problems unless you have at least one possible solution for it. And then there's the old saying, you catch more flies with honey then you do with vinegar. I always refer to these ideas before I go on attack. This NMA (Non-medical attendant) thing is a big problem. How can you tell us to be here and put so much pressure on us to do everything and then belittle us?
Our inpatient stay was awesome. We have a great care team, but the administration when you go to out-patient is a mess. First you have to discharge before 3 pm, if not you have to stay an extra day in the hospital. Oh and on Day 1 you have to meet with all of your doctors, then go to admin and get that straightened out and discharge before 3 to go to WTB to begin all your paperwork and have your first briefing with WTB. You find out that day you have to take your soldier on a scavenger hunt for 40 something signatures. There are no sticks of gum nor anything fun on that hunt. Most of the signatures are pointless. I had to take Chaz to Tricare to validate he has insurance, then to finance to check on his pay, make sure his life insurance was up to date, see the social worker (twice), sit through briefings for him and then for me and so many more. You cannot in-process into the WTB until you have all of these signatures. They want it as soon as possible and oh by the way your soldier still has to get to all of his appointments on time. God Bless you if your soldier has a bad day. Oh and FYI the WTB will call you everyday to see where you are on your scavenger hunt list, every single day until you get it turned into them. Don't worry that you are now fully responsible for your soldier and there's no nurse to help you. You agreed to be their Non-Medical Attendant and even though you didn't sign any type of contract you verbally agreed to be mistreated by the US Army. It doesn't matter you just took on a huge responsibility with no medical background, you are now held accountable to the US Army. So deal with it! This is the attitude you are given. I was thanked by one Colonel from the WTB, one time for agreeing to take on this huge responibility. Everyone else has this "Oh your the NMA, good now do this attitude." This one Colonel said, "I don't know how you guys do it. It's a lot to take on. I appreciate you helping us heal our wounded."
My favorite thing was when the when girls came for a visit. This Captain came up to me and told me I had to return to a briefing at 1pm. I said that I was sorry that I would be taking my hubby to go get our girls that day. He said "Well we're tracking you." I immediately replied, "Does that work for you?! Really?! Well, welcome to the club, the IRS and FBI have been tracking me for years. I run my own tax company. I'm used to being tracked. You're just new to the ball game. If "you're tracking me" is all you've got then please enjoy your day." By the look on his face I don't think he liked that comment. I found out later he used that line again and again. Dude needs a new line.
Chaz and I got all his stuff turned as soon as possible. Then we were greeted by a guy who tried to tell me I would have Chaz at formation three times a week. I broke into laughter. I said, "Hmm, have you stepped on an IED?" He says, "No." I said, "Are you a recent amputee who was just discharged from the hospital?" He says, "No." I said, "Well until you go through what my husband is going through you don't get to demand crap." He then reminds me that he was Chaz's squad leader and that Chaz is still a soldier and that there's accountability. (Let me assure you this guy does not like me anymore either.). I said, "Did you really just inform me of what a squad leader does? Really? Did you see my husband was a squad leader? He did your job and could probably do your job better right now even in the state he's in. I am not questioning accountability. I am simply asking for common sense to be used here." Guess who won that argument?
The problem we have here is the WTB is staffed with some very ignorant people. Some of them treat our soldiers as if they are shamming out, when reality is they are the ones shamming out. They are trying to avoid being deployed. We fought to get the rockstars we now have. We have a great squad leader and great nurse case manager. But we didn't get them from the start. I fought and won the fight to get them. I ticked off quite a few people too. The WTB is designed on the basis that all soldiers who are injured are 18-19 years old, their wives are the same age, that we are all complete idiots. Which is tragic. The WTB treats the majority of these guys like there's nothing wrong with them, which can be a good or bad thing, in this case it's bad. If the guys don't have visible injuries then they treat them like they are making it up regardless f the medical documentation. If they have visible injuries, they forget to take into account the battles these guys are facing daily. They treat them as if they as still on a line unit. I think the WTB should totally be set up as a line unit, but you cannot treat your wounded as line soldiers.
Well I lost it and opened my big fat mouth last week when they told me my NMA orders were being cancelled since Chaz is now assigned to Walter Reed and not the 101st and that I could go home. I said, "I am staying no matter what you say." The guy says "Well of course you are, you have to, you are his wife." I then said, "Who takes care of the guys who don't have wives or who's wives leave and they are assigned here?" He looked at me like I had two heads. Whatever you do, do not be shocked when you say something that involves complex (or even simple) thoughts. The looks you get are hilarious. The guy says, "We take care of our soldiers." I said, "Yeah I bet because you've taken such great care of my husband." He didn't like that either and turned away. I questioned Chaz's awesome squad leader about it. He said, "It's the policy and my hands are tied. If anyone could change the policy it would be you. They will not listen to your husband or any of us. But I have a feeling they will listen to you." So I sat on it for a day and then I blogged about it. Then I sent some emails expressing my disdain to some very awesome people in my email roster. That was on Thursday. Monday Chaz got a call from his squad leader, who was laughing. He told Chaz to tell me the NMA orders are now on a case by case, month by month basis. Chaz got off the phone and told me and we both began laughing!
I have never ever been afraid to speak up. I will never be afraid. They can't take away my birthday, so bring it! God gave me a big mouth and a pretty good brain and I will put these qualities to use. Unfortunately so many people are scared of the Army. They just do what they are told. Well I can follow orders, but I will not be told to go home because I don't have NMA orders. Chaz is the love of my life and the father of my children. I am not going anywhere! I will fight for the others who cannot speak out. I will fight to protect their families as well. It is time to see that this war effects so many people. It is not just about the soldier. It is a package deal. the soldier cannot heal without support and love. Chaz's primary support comes from family and his secondary support comes from his care team, the Army and the community.
I can't tell you how many Moms, Dads, siblings, girlfriends, friends, etc have quit their jobs to be here with their soldiers. When you are on orders to be here, you get $71 per day. That allowance really helps the families out with their expenses. If you are going to give us the enormous responsibility to care for the wounded with no formal medical training and hold us responsible for everything then the least you can do is continue that allowance. I have talked to so many families I have lost count. The ones I know and spend time with are not here to profit from their soldiers injuries. They are here out of love. Those that are here for the wrong reasons leave very quickly because they can't hack it! We are not looking for awards and pats on the back. Oh wait, I do expect a pat from my hubby, but I get that from him when he smiles and laughs with me, so I'm good. Some of these families need that money to be able to afford to stay here. That is their only steam of income because they dropped everything in their to be here. And let me tell you, you don't get your life back anytime soon.
The best thing about our situations are these incredible non-profits who are here to help. They see what the soldiers need and pick up where the Army can't. We are so blessed to have so many people who care so much for our families. The trait the I have that I am the most thankful for is my optimism. I can look at anything and find the positive. In this situation, my positive is that I raised a little cane and was able to help out countless families. I can also remind them of all of the awesome non-profits that are there to help. Most importantly I can share with them that there is hope. Some days it's hard to see but it's there.
The US Army has been very good to our family over the course of 13 years. Individuals sometimes have not been, but I will not blame the Army for the actions of individuals. The WTB is a great idea it just needs a lot time and work to make it better. My only problem is they are listening to the wrong people. They think they know what the guys need, but they are not asking the guys nor their families. The WTB is totally different from the rest of the Army because the have to deal with the families. Normally in the Army you just deal with your soldiers and occasionally the families. Instead here, we are in your face everyday, so you have to deal with us. Luckily our people like me because they know I am here to support and heal my hubby. They know I have no problems calling BS on them and they know I am ready to fight when I see an injustice. I can only hope that after our time here, we are able to leave a great impact for the families that follow. The saddest part is I know so many families will be following.