I have touched upon PTSD in previous posts, discussing how people can be on that path and some of the ways that they can seek treatment. One way that helps many is therapy. In the military, there can be many barriers to a Soldier seeking assistance with Behavioral Health. These include Chain of Command conflicts, mission needs and availability of services.
Seeking assistance at the Behavioral Health Clinic on post can be as simple as calling to find out when their walk in hours are, and then going. But sometimes it isn’t that simple. The walk in hours are usually after the duty day has already started, and this can cause some Soldiers to avoid going because they must then speak with their First Line Leader about why they need to be gone. Sometimes if you get lucky, you can go on a day after Staff Duty or manage to find a day when there’s nothing going on and just let them know that you’re running an errand or two and you’ll be back in about an hour.
So what happens during the walk in? Well, you’ll most likely fill out a survey on the computer. It asks questions about how you’re feeling, if you drink or smoke, if you have any conflicts with anyone, whether you’re thinking about hurting yourself, and other questions as well. Once you complete the survey, you wait until a therapist comes and brings you back to their office. Once there, you talk with them about why you are there, what else is going on in your life, and some general back ground questions. Based on that, they will talk to you about making a followup appointment to speak with someone on a regular basis.
From there, you go to the front desk of the clinic to make your follow up appointment, and get an appointment slip. Here’s where it gets tricky for some Soldiers. In many units, it is customary for them to require you to bring your appointment slip in and then they write it on a calendar somewhere so they can help to decrease the number of “No Shows” that they have to medical appointments. Here’s the thing, posting information about your appointments in a place that can be seen by anyone is a violation of your rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Frankly, it really isn’t anyones business if you’re going to BH or not. But in the military, it can certainly be a tricky situation.
Your unit, mainly your Commander and your First Sergeant, are responsible for ensuring the health and welfare of all of their Soldiers. As a part of this responsibility, they should permit you to seek the assistance that you desire and/or require to ensure that you recover both mentally and physically from a traumatic birth experience. However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t want to speak with you regarding the situation as a whole to ensure that you are okay. I personally don’t know all the regulations regarding this, and whether they can even ask questions or not. My advice on this would be to confide in your First Line Leader first, and discuss with them whether you have to talk to the 1SG or Commander. Best case scenario, you’ve kept your FLL in the loop so they know where you are at and you avoid an awkward conversation with anyone else.
If you are uncomfortable going to the BH clinic on post, there are other options that you can explore as well. Calling Military One Source is a great way of finding out if there are counselors in your area to speak with, and sometimes they are able to get you in with them for several sessions for free. It can be very helpful to be able to speak to a therapist regarding birth trauma, and make a plan of action to not only recover from your past but to move forward.
We strive to make our home and family as healthy and natural as possible every day. This journey is different for every family, and as we learn and incorporate new aspects of natural living into our every day lifestyle new challenges are uncovered. These challenges are even more unique for military families including health care decisions, child care decisions, and even nutritional decisions. By encouraging supportive and resourceful relationships among military families we can continue to promote natural living in the military and influence the future of policies and procedures in our own areas.
Military families can find obstacles to pursuing a holistic and natural lifestyle in several key areas including medical care, child care and nutrition. First, as military families we are blessed by having very good medical coverage through Tricare. This insurance plan has several benefits and covers most medical needs for the average American military family. However, it does not cover naturopath doctor visits, chiropractic care, acupuncture or many other aspects of medical care that can enhance our lives through natural remedies and a pursuit of true health. For example, I’m interested in trying acupuncture in the treatment of my Plantar Fasciitus (a common ailment in runners as well as military) but I am responsible for the monetary costs of treatment as that is not covered by Tricare. Military members themselves are also subject to strict rules of medical readiness that ensures our deployability. This rules include receiving routine vaccinations each year to ensure the overall medical readiness of the fighting force. Therefore, if you do not want to vaccinate this can pose a personal dilemma. At this time, there is no way for a military member to obtain a philosophical or religious exemption to vaccines that is permanent and does not jeopardize their career. There are rare cases of medical exemptions based upon allergies to vaccine components.
Another challenge for military families pursuing a natural life style is child care decisions. Most child development centers on military bases require children to be up to date on vaccinations and do not accept waivers, do not permit cloth diapering without a doctor’s note that is difficult to obtain, and do not allow breast milk to be served to children past the age of one. These policies force some families to choose between their healthy choice and their financial choices. On post day care is often less expensive than off post, but if you have to then purchase disposable diapers and stop breastfeeding (causing and increase in food purchases) is it really a cost saving method?
The third area that can pose challenges for natural minded military families is nutrition because they are transient over time and also have fewer options available during military missions. Military families can expect to have a major move every 2-4 years. Due to these recent moves, they have fewer opportunities to be self-sufficient. Although some families are able to buy and rent homes and are able to have a family garden as well as small livestock like chickens, it is a rarity. As a result, we are more dependant upon purchasing produce from farmers markets and grocery stores. Many of the sources available may not be reliable and could be hard to find depending on how specialized of a diet you have. Military service members can also have nutritional challenges while on training and deployment missions with fewer options available for meals including the highly calorized Meal Ready to Eat (MRE).
As a result of these challenges, we have a unique opportunity to encourage and support each other through social networking. We are able to share our experiences at different military bases including locations of farmers markets, where good meat/poultry coops are, what pediatricians will respect our parenting decisions and many more. There are several natural parenting pages on Facebook that focus on specific geographical areas surrounding military bases, and even a national page for crunchy parents. Discussions on those pages range from where the best local spot for amber teething necklaces are, to how to find a supportive doula and midwife team that will do a home birth (even though Tricare doesn’t cover it). Sharing our experiences and resources is absolutely key to encouraging each other throughout our journeys. Although it can be challenging at times, it is possible to incorporate lifestyle changes to live more naturally in the military.
If you know of a Facebook group or other site that helps to encourage and network natural parents in your area, please share it in the comments section!
There are times as a military family that we have to be apart. We’ve been very blessed that since my son was born, and those times have been rare. A couple times to the field, a night or two here or there. But tomorrow, I will leave my family for six months to attend a course four states away. My heart is aching thinking about how much distance will be between us, but I keep reminding myself that it really isn’t that far at all. Especially when I have dear friends who have spouses on the other side of the globe, I feel thankful that we are going to be in the same time zone.
The past two weeks have been spent soaking up as much family time as possible. We’ve gone on day trips to Sea World and a natural spring, gotten to spend time with old friends and family, and even just hung out around the house playing board games. I’ve tried to make every moment count and breath it all in. Especially the moments when I get to do normal everyday things with my Son, like tuck him in for the night, teaching him how to use his fork and spoon, and showing him how to make a worm out of a straw wrapper at lunch. He has grown so much and he amazes me all the time with how big he is getting. How is it that this little boy grew inside of me? And I am sure that by the time we are together again he is going to grow so much more. He’ll probably be speaking in full sentences by January!
We plan on talking daily and doing FaceTime as much as possible without making my Son upset by always saying goodbye to me. And I’m recording our night time song for him to fall asleep to each night. Hopefully the time will pass quickly, and I will be able to visit a few times in between for Halloween and Thanksgiving.
What have you done to help ease the distance between you and loved ones?