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Addressing Everyday Issues

Addressing Everyday Concerns

Tracy
Employment concerns are another important issue, not just for the TBI patients, but for the caregivers, as well. So let’s talk a minute about employment and benefits.

Megan
You know, I’ve been really lucky and my boss has been great, but I know that he can’t hold my job for me for too much longer.

Tracy
That’s a valid concern, Megan. And I know that many people find it difficult, some of them even impossible, to balance that work and caregiving. There are some things that you can do, like explain your caregiving responsibilities to you boss, that’ll help them understand your need for flexibility. And you may be able to get counseling, legal assistance, and referrals to resources through an Employee Assistance Program, if your firm has one in place. Another thing you might think about is, if you can’t work full-time because of your caregiving tasks, look into a part-time job, or flex-time options, job-sharing, things like that.

And it’s also, a good idea to check with your company’s human resources department about your eligibility for unpaid leave, and find out about your company’s caregiver leave policies. There’s a law called the Family and Medical Leave Act that provides service members, veterans, and their spouses up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave a year that’s to care for their seriously-injured service member without losing their job or their health care insurance.

And some states and employers have more extensive policies regarding leave for caregiving. So you’ll find more information on the Family and Medical Leave Act and the other resources relating to employment and benefits in your Guide for Caregivers.
 
Julie
Our bosses let us work remotely while Sam was in the hospital. It did get a little dicey there for a while, but ultimately they were very supportive.

Tracy
You’re very fortunate, Julie. Yeah I’ve met a lot of people who give up their jobs, they’re just assuming that their employer won’t be there for them. But a lot of employers are really willing to work with caregivers - - maybe not indefinitely, but for a reasonable period of time. So it’s certainly worth it to do a bit of research to see just how flexible your employer will be.

Megan
You know my caseworker told me that if I do lose my job, the Military Spouse Resource Center might be a really good place to look for information about going back to school or job placement. And I also may need to consider unemployment benefits for the short-term.

Tracy
That’s right. And you may also be eligible for other public benefits. Your Benefits Counselor can give you some guidance on how to find out more about the programs that are available.

Now, there is one last thing that I’d like to touch on  - - the benefits available for both service members and for their spouses. This information is really very important, and it’s very specific to your particular needs and your circumstances. Now time doesn’t allow us to go into a great deal of depth here, but you will find comprehensive information in Module 4 in your Guide to Caregiving. Okay. Be sure to look through that section called Navigating Services and Benefits. It’ll take some time, but it will be well worth it.

Benefits are available from the Federal, State, local and non-government sources. They’re covering a broad spectrum of areas of things like employment of course, education, health, travel, finance, housing, legal, there’s just so many more.

And the initial benefits that you receive are from the military and the VA. But as your loved one’s recovery continues, you should explore what’s available through the other agencies. Depending on your family member’s service branch, your Fleet and Family Support Center, Marine Corps Community Services, Airman and Family Readiness Center, or the Army Community Service Center can provide you with information and resources.

Eligibility for military benefits will depend on your family members status within the DOD and the VA…whether he’s active duty, or in the reserve, National Guard, a veteran, retired military, or medically retired. The benefits available cover a wide range of programs and services, including education and job placement. For example, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of support for graduate and undergraduate degrees, vocational training, technical training.

Another program that I want to specifically mention is the DoD’s Transition Assistance Program. That’s designed to help service members move from the military service into civilian life. The Disabled Transition Assistant Program, Or DTAP, works to help disabled service members who may be eligible for the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program.

To help you navigate this maze of benefits, your Benefits Counselor is a great source for up to date information. There’s a lot to…a lot to digest so…

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides service members/veterans and their spouses who are employed by companies with 50 or more employees with up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a seriously-injured service member without losing their jobs or health care insurance.

This act may have small adjustments periodically. Please see the Web site for most current information: www.dol.gov/whd/fmla

Check with your company’s human resources department about your eligibility for unpaid leave under the FMLA. Know your company’s caregiver leave policies. Explore alternative working arrangements, such as flexible hours, working from home, reduced hours, etc.

Some states and employers have more extensive policies regarding leave for caregiving. To see what your state policies are, check out: 

  • Family and Medical Leave Act site: www.dol.gov/whd/state/state 
  • National Partnership for Women & Families: www.nationalpartnership.org
  • State specific Web sites or offices
Related Information:
Family and Medical Leave Act
Public Benefits
Finding a Job
Glossary
Frequently Asked Questions
"I so wish that at the beginning I had had someone like the people I’ve met here at Fisher House, who are already two years post-injury. I wish I would have had some- body like that come up to me and just put their arms around me and say, You know what? Any question you need to ask, just ask it." -  Meredith H.

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