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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…

Balancing Work and Caregiving

  • Talk to your supervisor about your caregiving responsibilities so that he or she understands your need for flexibility. Find out what your company’s policies on caregiving are.
  • If your firm has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), you may be able to obtain counseling, legal assistance, and/or referrals to community resources.
  • At home, prioritize what needs to be done. Delegate tasks to others. And remember to make time for yourself. You can’t help anyone if you get rundown or sick from too much stress.
  • If you are can’t work full-time because of caregiving tasks, look into part-time jobs, flex-time options, and/or job-sharing.

Getting Help

You and your injured family member can get help finding a job. There is support available if you are seeking employment. This support recognizes the important contribution that both you and your family member have made in service to the United States.

Start by checking with your installation’s support services. Depending on your service member/veteran’s service branch, your Fleet and Family Support Center, Marine Corps Community Services, Airman and Family Readiness Center, or Army Community Service Center can provide you with information and support.

A good starting place is the National Resource Directory (www. nationalresourcedirectory.org). It is a collaborative effort between the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.

The directory is a Web-based network of care coordinators, providers, and support partners with resources for wounded, ill, and injured service members, veterans, their families, families of the fallen, and those who support them.

The Directory offers more than 10,000 medical and non-medical services and resources to help service members and veterans achieve personal and professional goals along their journey from recovery through rehabilitation to community reintegration.

The National Resource Directory is organized into six major categories: 

  • Benefits and Compensation
  • Education, Training, and Employment 
  • Family and Caregiver Support 
  • Health 
  • Housing and Transportation
  • Services and Resources
It also provides helpful checklists, Frequently Asked Questions, and connections to peer support groups. All information on the Web site can be found through a general or state and local search tool.

Other supportive services include:

Military Spouse

The Military Spouse Resource Center www.MilSpouse.org is a Web-based service provided by the Department of Defense and the Department of Labor. It provides information about education, training, and employment, as well as childcare and transportation.

Also take a look at the Military Spouse JobSearch Web site
www.militaryspousejobsearch.org/msjs/app. It can help you find companies that are committed to hiring military spouses. It also allows you to search for jobs by the name of a military base.

Military Spouse JobSearch also provides job search resources for people with disabilities, in the event that your service member is not able to return to duty due to disability. Other resources for veterans include federal government positions. The government’s Office of Personnel Management provides information on job opportunities for veterans at www.opm.gov/veterans.

Operation IMPACT

Operation IMPACT was launched by Northrop Grumman. The program provides transition support to service members severely injured in OEF/OIF and helps them identify career opportunities within the corporation. If an injured service member is no longer able to work, the program offers career
support to a member of the individual’s immediate family who will act as the primary wage earner.

Program Eligibility
To be eligible for the program, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • severely injured during combat operations in the OEF/OIF on or after September 11, 2001
  • disability rating of 30 percent or greater from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
For more information, contact Operation IMPACT at 1-800-395-2361 or e-mail for more details.

Federal Civil Service

  • If your family member with TBI is your spouse or child who is a totally disabled, retired, or separated  member of the Armed Forces (has been retired with a disability rating at the time of retirement of 100 percent; or retired/separated from the Armed Forces with a disability rating of 100 percent from the Department of Veterans Affairs), you are eligible for expedited recruitment and selection for Federal civil service positions.
  • You will be given priority in Labor Department-funded employment and training programs, as well as preference in federal hiring.
  • You can search for a Federal civil service position by contacting a One Stop Career Center (find the nearest one at www.servicelocator.org. Introduce yourself as the spouse of a recently disabled veteran. Ask to speak with a work force specialist. This individual can tell you about job opportunities in your area.
Related Information:
Family and Medical Leave Act
Public Benefits
Finding a Job
Glossary
Frequently Asked Questions
"It had been 15 months and he had slowly improved. But he couldn’t talk. He’d kind of start trying to mouth words, but he just couldn’t talk. And so, on October 21st, 2005, I’ll never forget that morning. I came in to the bedroom and I said, Fred, how are you doing?’ And he said, ‘Fine.’ Okay. I think he just talked to me. So I just turned around and went back into the kitchen, got his breakfast, came back in and thought, okay, let me try this again. I said, ‘Fred, how are you doing?’ And he said, ‘Fine.’ It wasn’t a lot at first, but he could talk." -  Denise G.

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