Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some have just couples, some widowed; some have single parents, some are large and some small. Each family is unique. And each family has to deal with its own circumstances and challenges. This section does not offer opinions – it lets you, the veteran family, look through the topics listed here, find out more about what interests or concerns you, and decide what actions, if any, are best for your family. Topics aren’t listed in any particular order. They include but aren’t limited to money management, helping kids adjust, wellness, and stress management.
There are also some mobile apps available with more to come. For now, you can find many of them by looking under Mobile Applications at http://afterdeployment.dcoe.mil/providers/home.
Below are some sites (backed by the VA) with help and ideas on dealing with issues affecting military and veteran families. There are more topics available at the afterdeployment.org website.
Families & Friendships – Covers post-deployment relationships and how they can be strained
Families With Kids – Helps parents help children pre- and post-deployment
Financial Health – A series of videos on proper planning and avoiding pitfalls
Military Kids Connect – For parents and kids 6 – 17. Coping with moving, separation, stress. Has a section for teachers too
Make The Connection – connects Veterans and their friends and family members with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their lives.
Being a parent with a special physical or emotional situation can make the job more difficult. Below are a couple of single sheets with suggestions that can possibly make a parent’s life a bit easier.
Parenting with Emotional Challenges (PDF): Being a parent is challenging, and can be even tougher when you’re dealing with PTSD or other mental health concerns.
Parenting with Physical Challenges (PDF): Injuries can be both “visible” and “invisible”. Often both visible and invisible injuries are present in the same person.
Similarly, here are a couple of single page tip sheets for dealing with the children.
The Impact of Your Emotions on Parenting (PDF): How you deal with your emotions will impact your children and your parenting choices.
Helping Your Child Cope with Difficult Emotions (PDF): You know your child the best, here are a few ideas to consider and perhaps try out.
Some more topics…
Moving Forward – Online course to help vets solve problems and overcome stress
Work Adjustment – Has workshops on how to succeed at work
Health and Wellness – Keeping life in balance
Depression – Recognizing signs, and a self-assessment of risk
Parenting for Service Members and Veterans – Free anonymous online course with modules on parent-child communications, discipline, stress management, and physical/emotional challenges. Parenting for Vets is the mobile app.
There are sometimes useful articles and ideas at www.military.com. The site features categories on money, discounts, relationships, and community, as well as a special section for spouses. Most articles are geared toward active duty military/deployed reserve, but veteran families face many of the same issues. You might just find something helpful here. Two recent articles were Building a Positive Relationship With Your Spouse and Can Your Child Benefit from Counseling?. Links to these articles may have expired, but you get the idea.
American Legion Family Programs
The American Legion’s Family and Youth Programs include the Family Support Network which can provide financial support to families of Guard/Reserve members and active duty personnel who are having difficulty meeting normal monthly expenses as a result of being mobilized/deployed. Applicants can call 800-504-4098 or click on the Family Support Network link above.
The Legion also has a Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program which awards cash grants to minor children of veterans who are eligible for American Legion membership – veterans are not required to be members. These grants help families in need meet the cost of shelter, food, utilities and health expenses, thereby keeping the child or children in a more stable environment. No child is considered eligible for Temporary Financial Assistance until a complete investigation is conducted at the post or department level; a legitimate family need is determined; and all other available assistance resources have been utilized or exhausted. Additionally, the TFA application must originate and be filled out by someone at the local level.
The Operation Comfort Warriors program is dedicated to meeting the needs of wounded, injured or ill military personnel by providing them with comfort items not usually supplied by the government. OCW ensures that patients at U.S. military hospitals and warrior transition units are given items like sweat suits, DVDs, puzzles, electronic devices, books, calling cards and more. OCW also provides larger items such as ping pong tables, entertainment centers, computers, kayaks and other recreational goods for use by wounded warriors in common areas. To request assistance click here: http://www.legion.org/operationcomfortwarriors/assistance.
Scholarship opportunities are available to families of servicemembers and kin of veterans with wartime period service. These include the Legacy Scholarship awarded to children of those killed on active duty after September 11, 2001. The Samsung American Legion Scholarship is available to high school juniors who attend the current session of either The American Legion Boys State or Auxiliary Girls State program and are a direct descendant – i.e. child, grandchild, great grandchild, etc. – or a legally adopted child of a wartime veteran who served on active duty during at least one of the periods of war officially designated as eligibility dates for American Legion membership. For information on additional scholarship programs, go to http://www.legion.org/scholarships or send an email to email@example.com.
The Legion also offers youth programs in baseball, scouting, civics (Boys/Girls State), and youth cadet law enforcement. For more information on any of these go to www.legion.org, highlight PROGRAMS, and click on what interests you.
The Legion’s Children and Youth Support Division uses both internal and external programs to help strengthen families, provide services to young people, and meet the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs of today’s youth. It also includes a youth organization resource directory. Check it out.
For those who need to visit the sick or just keep in touch –
State and County Family Resources
New Jersey and Bergen County have several programs for families both veteran and non-vet. Some of these may also be mentioned in other sections but are repeated here to save you time searching for them. Like the Federal and Legion programs above, these resources are not in any particular order.
Deployments are almost always a source of financial and emotional and financial stress for the spouse and family left behind. The Deployed Military Spouses’ Assistance Program provides emergency direct financial assistance payments and/or referrals to spouses affected by the deployment. For information on this program contact the Women’s Opportunity Center/Burlington County YMCA, 59 Centerton Road, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054. 609-543-6200 ext. 325. Email www.woc-bc.org/contact.htm
Similarly, there are spouses who have been dependent on the income of another household member who now have to support themselves due to death, disablement, or divorce of that person. Displaced Homemaker Centers can provide job counseling services, job training and placement sources, and financial management services to these spouses. The programs also provide life skills training, computer literacy, and information and referral services. In Bergen County, contact Career & Life Counseling Centers, The Bergen One Stop Career Center, 60 State Street, 2nd Floor, Hackensack, NJ 07601. 201-488-2742.
Child care can also be a concern, depending on family circumstances. For information on resources and referrals, contact Bergen County Office for Children, One Bergen County Plaza, 2nd Floor, Hackensack, NJ 07601-7076. 201-336-7150. Website www.co.bergen.nj.us/bcdhs/divisions/children.htm
It is not pleasant to discuss or think about, but domestic violence is an unfortunate fact of life for some and veteran families are not immune. The New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline provides a 24 hour/7 day hotline to serve domestic violence victims and others seeking information about domestic violence. 800-572-SAFE (7233). The service is bilingual and accessible to the hearing impaired. The national hotline for victims is 800-799-7233. Bergen County also has a domestic violence program called Alternatives to Domestic Violence which provides services including Outreach, Clinical Counseling, Crisis Intervention, and Legal Advocacy. This 24 hour Hotline is 201-336-7575. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also in Bergen County, the Center for Hope and Safety (formerly Shelter Our Sisters) can provide emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and their children. The 24 hour Hotline is 201-944-9600. The shelter can also be reached at 201-836-1075. Email is email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and the website is www.hopeandsafetynj.org. An additional resource is the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at http://www.ncadv.org.
Another hotline available is the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA). This 24 hour hotline will connect individuals affected by sexual violence with professionals who can provide assistance and referrals. 800-601-7200.
Recreation can be an important part of healthy family relationships. Whether local day trips or once-in-a-lifetime vacations, it’s good to get out of the house if you can. And there are many destinations from state parks to theme parks that offer discounts to veterans and families. This USA Today (advertiser supported) article Veteran Travel Discounts has tips on finding ways to save. You can also google Veteran Vacation Discounts to see what’s available. You will find many options but don’t forget these places are trying to sell you something. If you just want to stay local, check out New Jersey Events, a state tourism website.