Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Military What Source?

A dear friend asked me last week what my problem was with Military One Source since I had brought it up and thought this would be a good topic for this blog. Now my problem with MOS is not that I think they aren't a good company or have usable and reliable resources for many military families. My issue with this group is that they aren't helping us with anything remotely pertaining to PTSD or TBI, but I guess I should start at the beginning. 

So throughout the deployment process, we as spouses were bombarded with all this information usually in the form of packets. MOS always being at the top of the list, providing handy dandy magnets to place on our fridges in case of emergencies. The Army or in our case, the Army Reserves, really shoved MOS down our throats before and during deployment, making sure we understood that this company was our number one place to go to for all that fails while our soldiers were gallantly serving overseas.

Now when my husband was deployed, my oldest son was almost 10 years old. A friend of his lost his daddy over in Iraq and my son really just freaked out over the fact that his dad was going overseas and he was going to get killed like so and so's dad. No matter what I tried to tell him or explain, and no matter the promises from my husband....my son really struggled with this deployment. Walking past the fridge one day, I spot the shiny magnet with the big number "1" on it and decide to call. The woman who answered was indeed, very friendly and supportive over the phone. MOS offered to send my struggling son to counseling or to see a therapist in which I gladly jumped at the offer, all while singing my praises to this fantastic resource! While being placed on hold, I felt so much better and somewhat relieved as this was our first deployment and never had to deal with my son in this type of emotional capacity. It went downhill from there........

We were given a list of doctor's to call and told to call for the ten free sessions we get. However, each of the numbers were ones I didn't recognize. I did call and discovered that these ten free sessions were actually in Nashville or Memphis which is approximately four-seven hours away. I called back and found out that these were my closest and only options for sessions. Now, not sure about you, but at this time the gas prices were what three years ago? $3.50 to $4.00 a gallon? I hadn't gotten my husband's first check in from the Army, and to top it off, just gave birth to my second son. Driving this far was not an option for my family. I ended up having to go outside in the civilian world to get the help I needed.

I pretty much disregarded MOS all through the deployment process and even after he came home. Six months of reintegration problems and serious emotional problems, I looked high and low for help only to find doors closed in our faces. We don't live any where near a military installation and the VA was still months away from seeing my husband for the first time. I finally put my foot down and told my husband "Let's try Military One Source". He fussed and cussed for months, but finally relented and made the call. So here I am sitting at the table with him, holding his hand for support and beaming with pride because he took the initiative to call. Meanwhile, in my head, thanking the big man upstairs for finally giving me some type of hope and please God, just swing us open a door our way to get him help.

Two hours on the phone, five transfers later...my husband bears it all. The drinking, the suicidal thoughts, the emotional problems he was having, the nightmares, the family problems, and answering all the consultant's questions. Two hours later we got this answer 'Well SGT *****, it sounds like you may be suffering from PTSD and you need help immediately. Unfortunately, we don't handle PTSD or anything medical so there is nothing I can do for you. I will be glad to give you a call back if we come across any resources that might come in that relates to you, but until then, I suggest you go to the VA". 

Well readers, I can assure you that this did not go over well with my husband. At all. The next thing I know, he is yelling at this man demanding to know why he just told him everything if they weren't going to help him. Why did they waste our time? Why ask so many personal questions and in depth ones when all along my husband was telling him that he thinks he has PTSD. My husband hangs up the phone, throws it across the room shattering it, and uproots my kitchen table and sends it flying across the room. He yelled at me with tears streaming down his face and looked at me so coldly and said "Don't you ever...I mean ever....tell me to call anyone else. I feel like a damned fool and you said they would help! They didn't help, they didn't do anything except close another door".

It was after that phone call that my husband went on a downhill spiral into the epitome of PTSD hell.  Our family severely suffered and we ended up separating for a while because he was so bad that I became worried about our children. Now I am not saying that the young man on the phone wasn't helpful or attentive, because he was. He was very polite and well mannered, always a plus in this Southerner's book. I blame them and the Army for not having the resources or help that was promised to us for two years. To give this young man credit, after being chewed out by an emotionally unstable person and then hung up on....he called us back! My husband refused to talk to him so I did. I gave him a piece of my mind and basically jumped down his throat and did a tap dance in his lungs! I did explain and apologize to him for taking it out on him, but he needed to know that my husband was in bad shape and basically on the verge of either drinking himself to death or planning a late night rendezvous with the business end of a Glock. Again, this man apologized and said he was sorry, but they just don't deal with this "stuff".
Still to this day, the Army is continuously shoving Military One Source down our throats as if they are the informational Messiah of all military branches. MOS is the resource haven to where you can get help for anything, the helpful saint of all that goes on in the military world and the families that live in it.  The "Dear Abby" of all military life issues........except PTSD. 

A year later, I decided to try MOS one more time after being told by my military commanding officers that MOS has increased their help options and that includes PTSD. I was assured that this resource would not fail me or my family.....guess what? Nothing had changed. I called again and they did offer some marriage counseling but the numbers they gave me were not participating in the program anymore, or did not want to touch us with a ten foot pole because of the fact my husband was a PTSD sufferer. They "simply do not have the experience with PTSD and all of its aspects to treat you or your husband". Hey, at least they were honest. The two others, again......six hours away or at the military post in KY which is over 5 hours for us.  Five free sessions through Tricare and the rest was paid out of pocket under our Tricare Reserve insurance.

Joining the FRG was a good thing for me and I really like being around the ladies that are in it. I love the men and women in my unit and it does make me feel better knowing no one has to go through any deployments alone like I did because our FRG is so strong. I have been sent on several training trips and been put through all the online trainings as well when the money just wasn't there to pay for me to go somewhere. It's fantastic that the military wants their FRG leaders so heavily trained and armed with their own personal arsenal of information, rules and regs, and resources. However, from trainings to Yellow Ribbon ceremonies (information debreifings that happen throughout the deployment cycle) there is MOS. Naturally, I always stop and question them to see if they have any additional resources for PTSD or help. Nada. Yet, in the same trainings and Yellow Ribbons, MOS is pushed yet again for all help pertaining to reintegration. re-entering civilian workforce and emotional problems such as PTSD. What is wrong with this picture?

I can be pretty outspoken sometimes especially when I know something isn't right. I call from time to time, and I get transferred more times than anyone else I know after giving my name! Some days, I think there are consultants in a room somewhere doing Paper, Rock Scissors trying to see who is going to get the lady on line three. They have always been nice and informative on everything but these subjects, but it just irks me that this resource is being pushed so hard as the answer to everything when it's not! Recently, I had a soldier come to me in confidence and ask for help because he felt like he was having some issues and quite possibly PTSD. I gave him a list of resources, but as FRG, we are asked to pass them on to MOS. I did tell him that MOS didn't help us, but things could have changed in the past year, give it a try. He called me back and said " They asked me all these questions and I answered and the lady said yes it sounds like you have PTSD, but you need to go to the VA". That part frustrates the hell out of me.

In most all units, there are horror stories floating around about Family Readiness Groups, the lack of one being there period, or bad experiences within one. You either like them, or you don't. It's not one of the easiest things to do to gain soldier's and families' trust if they have had issues with FRGs in the past, or if they are new to the idea. So when you do have the soldiers and families' trust, you got to treat it with kid gloves. To have this young man call me back and sound so pitiful, was a damned shame. I felt humiliated, not just because of Military One Source for not helping him, but because that is our only freaking option as far as help goes. 

Fortunately, from experience in our state and area we live in, I was able to get him to some help. We don't live in the sticks, or some hick county in BFE....but yet, we often hear from MOS that we are "geographically challenged to resources". This isn't in just our state, its in the surrounding states as well as I am hearing from more and more spouses like me and FRG leaders. Now in some states, or even other parts of this one.....MOS seems to be the shining beacon of hope in many things like financial budgeting, homework help, grief counseling etc. If you need language translation of documents, you are in the right place with them! The thing that bothers me is that with so many coming home with emotional problems such as PTSD and medical like TBI....you would think that this one well advertised program would have something to give us besides "Go to the VA". I want to tell them so badly "how many have you turned away like my husband? How many I wonder went home and committed suicide? How many families decided to split because there is no help for us or our soldiers? Why is the Army pushing us on all this Military One Source, your one stop shop" if it truly isn't?"

It's very easy to naturally just shove us like a bunch of lepers to the VA. I wonder what some of those directors at MOS would say if they knew that the VA here, has 2 doctors to over 6000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans? I wonder if they know when they plan their meetings if the topic of the VA waiting list to get in is no less than six to eight months? Out of all their information they have pooled to make this the number one resource for all that ails our military and their families, why haven't they got something better than "Go to the VA"? 

So dear friend, there is my "problem" with Military One Source. I know that they have hit/tweeted on my other blog in regards to PTSD and so glad they did. Just for the record, I am not saying the whole program is bad...just in the case of us who are living with combat related PTSD and TBI. Some of the fault lies in the Army because they are passing along false information and hopes for family members. Hopefully, someone will read this and say "hey, you know she's right", let's seriously look into this. I figure this way, they can't put me on hold or transfer me a dozen times, only to get someone who wants to transfer me back eleven more times and hangs up on me! So no disrespect to you Military One Source, but you gotta throw us Combat PTSD and TBI Spouses a bone.....we are starving! 

Still seeking the elusive resources for PTSD and TBI,

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