Tagged: military family support
- Search the Internet. Search for organizations near your base, community, or area of interest.
- Visit your installation’s military support service center; the Navy, Army, Air Force, and the Marine Corps all have support centers for military spouses and families.
- Talk to people. You are not alone in this. Whatever you’re going through, there are others out there who can help – or at least just listen. Ask your neighbour, the checkout person at the commissary, anybody you might come across where to find like-minded groups to join.
The Military Family Association has published a resource page for servicemembers and family members affected by the tragic tornado disaster that befell the community of Moore, Oklahoma on Monday.
The tornado struck near Tinker Air Force Base. A number of Air Force families may have been severely affected and/or rendered homeless. Base personnel who need immediate assistance with food, clothing or emergency financial assistance can contact the Tinker Family Readiness Center at 405-739-2747, 405-736-3813, or 405-736-3847.
You can also call these numbers to volunteer. The Family Readiness Center is in the process of organizing work and relief teams to go out and assist Air Force personnel and their families in need. Alternatively, you can register as a volunteer at this link.
If you’re an Air Force member affected by the storm, visit AFPAAS and fill out a needs assessment. This will inform the Air Force that you’re accounted for and alert them to any supports or services you or your family may need.
USAA Field Assistance Teams
If you have insurance from USAA, you can contact one of two emergency assistance teams already on site at these locations.
First Baptist Church of Moore
301 NE 27th St. (I-35 and NE 27th)?Moore, OK 73160?Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Everyday ?Services: Claims
501 SW 19th St.?Moore, OK 73160?Hours: 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Today ?7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Thursday and everyday until further notice.?Services: Claims
Members can report claims by using USAA’s Mobile App on their iPad, Android and/or iPhone smartphones, online at usaa.com/help, or by calling 1-800-531-USAA (8722).
Emergency Prescription Refills
If you are a TRICARE beneficiary and you need an emergency refill of your prescription (because, for example, your home was destroyed), take your prescription bottle, if you have it, to any TRICARE retail network pharmacy. To find a network pharmacy near you, click here. Alternatively, you can call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303.
These procedures apply to the counties for which the Governor of Oklahoma has declared a state of emergency. As of this writing, those counties are Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, Pottawatomie. Emergency refill procedures are in place for TRICARE beneficiaries through June 17.
If you lost your military ID, you’ll need to get it replaced at the nearest DEERS enrollment office. If you lost your TRICARE enrollment card, call TRICARE customer service 800-444-5445.
More information is available from the State of Oklahoma here.
Tiffany Nicole Klapheke, an Air Force spouse, has been indicted in the death of her 22 month-old daughter Tamryn through apparent neglect. Tamryn died last August 28th while in military housing on Dyess Air Force Base.
MilitaryAuthority.com first covered the tragic story here.
A grand jury indicted Klapheke on three counts of injury to a child. Tamryn apparently died from the withholding of food, water and basic care. Her husband was deployed at the time.
At least four Child Protective Services workers are also under investigation for possibly covering up evidence related to Tamryn’s neglect. The Abilene Department of Child Protective Services had concluded an investigation into the family’s ability or willingness to provide care. These four CPS workers have been placed on paid leave pending the results of the investigation, according to reporting by the Reporter News.
Klapheke is currently in jail awaiting trial.
Shortly after Tamryn’s death and her arrest, Tiffany Nicole Klapheke told a local television station that she became overwhelmed with depression, and that no one from the base had checked on her or asked her if she needed anything.
But according to the Reporter News, the Klapheke family had been the subject of previous neglect investigations at least three times, dating back to April of 2010. The Reporter News also reports that the Dyess AFB Family Advocacy clinic was involved in the investigations. The Klapheke family was under investigation for medical neglect of one or more of their children in 2011, though the case was closed in October of 2011 and medical neglect ruled out, according to CPS documents.
When Tamryn was found unresponsive and brought to the hospital, it had apparently been two weeks since she last had a diaper change, according to the examining physician. She also weighed only 17.5 pounds – severely underweight for a 22-month old. She had chemical burns on her body from prolonged exposure to her own waste.
A new supervisor at the Abilene Child Protective Services office actually closed an investigation only six days prior to Tamryn’s death. This was in apparent violation of regulations that required an in-person visit with the family before closing any investigations.
“You want to see the family again because you don’t know what might have changed since you saw them,” Crimmins said.
The employee hadn’t seen the family in about 10 months when she closed the case, he said. She resigned a couple of weeks after Tamryn Klapheke died.
Three individuals from the Abilene CPS office and at least one individual from the Wichita Falls office are under investigation for possibly tampering with or withholding evidence from law enforcement officers concerning the Klapheke case.
Meanwhile, another Airman, Senior Airman Christopher Perez, is also facing a number of UCMJ charges in connection with Tiffany Klapheke. Perez admits to having had a sexual affair with Tiffany Klapheke while her husband was deployed, and lived with her and the children for several weeks. Charges against him include adultery, child endangerment and neglect. He is currently confined to post.
The two other Klapheke children, aged six months and three years, have been placed in foster care. Their father, a USAF airman, has been transferred back to Dyess AFB. He is not at this time suspected of wrongdoing or neglect.
In an address last week, President Obama declared the month of November “Military Family Month,” a month in which every American should pay tribute to military families for their sacrifices and contributions they make to support our soldiers and our nation.
An excerpt from the President’s statement reads:
“In our military families, we see the best our country has to offer. They demonstrate the virtues that have made America great for more than two centuries and the values that will preserve our greatness for centuries to come.
With loved ones serving far from home, military spouses take on the work of two. Their children show courage and resilience as they move from base to base, school to school, home to home. And even through the strain of deployment, military families strengthen the fabric of each community they touch and enrich our national life as shining examples of patriotism.”
The President’s proclamation kicks off the Department of Defense and our country’s month-long celebration of the military family. Throughout this month, military families are honored in a number of ways in ceremonies across the country. Recognition and respects are being paid by community leaders, businesses, military installations and posts at family fun nights, special dinners, local sporting events and other community activities this month.
Contact your base family activities unit or chamber of commerce to find out if there are any special activities near you, and be sure to show your support for military families this month.
You might know the American Red Cross as “those people who do the blood drives,” but like the military, they have a rich history of service. A national service organization for more than a century, the 700 locally-supported chapters of the American Red Cross has helped more than 15 million people each year people mobilize to help their neighbors. These volunteers learn valuable skills to prepare for and respond to emergencies in homes, communities, and around the world. In addition, almost four million people also donate blood each year through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States.
The American Red Cross also maintains a strong commitment to serving all members of the military, whether active-duty, Guard, and Reserve service members or their immediate family members. They are an important resource for our service members and those they love.
American Red Cross services for military members and their families include:
Communicating important news with family members is one area the Red Cross supports. Whether it’s to share the birth of a child or the loss of a loved one, the immense worldwide network maintained by the Red Cross helps keeps military personnel anywhere (including on ships at sea, at embassies, and in isolated military units)linked with their loved ones.
If you need to send an emergency message, contact the Red Cross and have the following information on hand:
- service member’s full name, rank, Service branch, Social Security number, and military address
- information about the deployed unit and the location of the rear detachment unit (for deployed service members only)
- name, phone number, and relationship of person in the city or town where the emergency occurred (to provide more information if required)
- name and contact number for hospital or funeral home to verify the emergency
Social services and disaster assistance
The Red Cross provides counseling, family support and help with VA appeals for service members and their families. There are some chapters that offer special courses or support groups for military families to help themselves and others deal with the psychological challenges of the deployment cycle.
Direct support to service members
Red Cross staff members deploy overseas to provide direct emergency communications. In overseas locations, the Red Cross may offer respite from harsh conditions and bring a little bit of home to the troops by operating a twenty-four-hour canteen service with coffee, cold drinks, snacks, games, videos, and books. Red Cross teams also visit patients in clinics and hospitals.
Military family members who wish to volunteer with the Red Cross can also find opportunities such as:
- positions as greeters, hospital guides, wheelchair escorts, patient chaperones, and pharmacy aids working at medical facilities in areas such as physical therapy, the emergency room, pediatrics, dermatology, and radiology
- volunteer caseworker positions at Red Cross locations
- a Dental Assistant Program (DENTAC) for training as a dental technician
- pet-therapy volunteer positions to cheer up patients in military hospitals
- blood donation center positions to assist with blood drives
- disaster-response positions to provide relief support
The American Red Cross is accessible in a number of ways:
- Active-duty service members stationed in the US and their immediate family members may call the Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Service (AFES) Centers for help at any time 877-272-7337.
- Members of the Guard and Reserve, retirees, and extended family members can access services through their local Red Cross Chapter, listed in local telephone directories and in the chapter directory.
- Overseas personnel stationed on military installations may call installation operators or the on-installation Red Cross office.
A 26 year-old Air Force Spouse is in jail after allegedly letting her 22-month old daughter die of malnutrition and neglect, say officials in Fort Worth, Texas. Her two other girls, one three years old and one aged six months, are in intensive care recovering from severe neglect.
Tiffany Nicole Klapheke, originally from Kentucky, was married to an airman and stationed at Dyess Air Force Bace, Texas.
Klapheke told a local television station, KTXS, that with three young children at home, she grew depressed and suicidal while her husband was deployed overseas. She also alleges that no one from the command, family support group or anywhere else called her or checked on her or asked if she needed anything.
“I know people hate me and I don’t understand, but it was not my intention. I just wanted a break for my own sanity, that’s all. I didn’t mean for it to go so far,” she told a KTXS reporter in a tearful interview from the jail where she is being held on a $500,000 bond. “I made a terrible mistake and I know I’ll be paying for it the rest of my life.”
The post, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, the home of the 7th Bomber Wing, does have a child development center on the post. The Dyess Child Development Center assigns priority to children based on their parental employment status. Single parents on active duty receive first priority. 2nd priority goes to active duty military members with spouses who are either employed full-time or who are full-time students. Children of active-duty servicemembers or DoD contractors whose spouses are not working receive third priority, called Category 3.
The Child Development Center accepts children from age six weeks to six months. In addition to its full-time care program, the CDC also runs an hourly “drop-off” care operation.
We called the Child Development Center on September 4th and asked about the prospects for placing a 22 month old child in Category 3. Their staff told us that there was currently a waiting list for children under 24 months. Once a child reaches 24 months, “we can take those children almost walk-in,” said the CDC staffer. But the two year-old range is their highest-demand age group. Tamryn Klapheke was 22 months old when she died. Tiffany Nicole Klapheke very likely could not have gotten a placement at all for her until Tamryn reached age two.
However, there were other resources available: The Air Force Aid Society sponsors a “Give-A-Parent-a-Break Program.” This program provides monthly services for Air Force parents who need a break from the rigors of child care. The program is run on a referral basis: Chaplains, commanders and first sergeants can refer a family to these services.
Military families can also access all kinds of support and referrals from Military OneSource.
Additionally, Ms. Klapheke also had access to the Airman and Family Readiness Center on post, which could also have referred her to support systems around the community.
Aside from the point-blank issue of immediate child care availability, however, there is a broader issue of a woman — an active duty military spouse — who fell through the cracks somehow. Whether the issue was post-partum depression, organic depression not related to post-partum depression, or any other mental health issue, this woman’s children had been neglected for some time.
While rear detachment commanders — those officers who are designated to oversee administrative and logistical issues at home station while the unit main body is deployed — are not day-to-day nose-wipers or babysitters for stressed parents, they do have basic responsibility for the welfare of military families, together with the base commander and, of course, the unit commander stationed forward.
Additionally, major commands generally have informal spousal support networks — frequently headed by the wives of senior officers and NCOs. A major purpose for these family support groups is to provide a safety net and support system for spouses and their children — particularly when the servicemember is deployed.
Somehow, even though the children were severely underweight, and essentially left to dehydrate and starve in their own waste (Tamryn was only 17 and a half pounds when she died and the other two children were placed in intensive care) nobody had seen these children, or if they had seen them, no one had taken notice of their condition.
Even if the day care center on base had slots available immediately, there would still have been a spouse in need.
Mental Health Care Issues
With PTSD issues a high-visibility concern for the military, and with suicides in the military outpacing the ongoing war in Afghanistan as a cause of death, access to mental health care has been a front-burner issue for commands throughout the DoD. Mental health care access has historically been spotty, but does not appear to have been an issue in this case. Dyess Air Force Base has a mental health center on the post itself, that supports both uniformed servicemembers and their dependents. No appointment is necessary — the center is generally able to support walk-ins.
While it’s obvious in hindsight that this woman and her children — living on post — fell through the cracks in the support and health and welfare system, the command appears to have been responsive to the incident: According to a Dyess AFB spokesperson, the 7th Bomb Wing and Dyess Air Force Base commander, has held three town halls in response, attended by family members, senior officer and NCO leadership, family members, family support group representatives, representatives from the key support facilities on post, and the post chaplain. “Base leadership plans to use feedback from these meetings to improve communication and teamwork at Dyess, thereby ensuring that Airmen and their families are being taken care of,” said the Dyess Air Force Base spokesperson.
For the time being, Dyess is not commenting on some of our specific questions, including whether Ms. Klapheke was, indeed, on the telephone roster in the family support group, and whether she had placed herself on a do-not-contact list. Family Support Group organizations are prohibited from contacting family members who elect to be put on the do-not-contact list.
However, since the Klapheke’s were occupying government housing at the time Tamryn and the other children were suffering from neglect, any such refusal can only go so far. Military housing authorities can do health and welfare inspections of military housing. However, few families want to live in an environment where federal bureaucrats would be so intrusive on a routine basis.
The father of the children, Senior Airman Thomas Klapheke, has been returned from overseas. Tiffany Nicole is still in jail. Thomas Klapheke has already updated his Facebook status to “divorced.”
- Parents and spouses: Check on each other. Just because you think you’re doing ok doesn’t mean everyone is. Some people are more fragile and have a harder time coping than others. Cross-reinforce yourselves.
- A phone call isn’t enough. Family support group members need to get eyeball-to-eyeball with spouses and get eyes on children.
- If someone isn’t participating in family support group activities at all, find out why. It could be that this family is getting all the support they need from extended family and other resources. Or it could be that something is wrong. In this case, something was tragically wrong.
- Rear detachment commanders: Take an interest in each family, down to the junior enlisted level. This is where money is the tightest, and where some of these spouses are hardly out of high school themselves — and far from home, sometimes for the first time. These are the spouses with the most limited natural support networks.
- We have been down this road before. The stress of deployment has been demonstrated to correlate strongly with an increase in child abuse and neglect in military families. Rear detachment commanders and their support staff, including DoD civilians, would do well to familiarize themselves with the literature that already exists. In particular, the North Carolina Medical has published a detailed report exploring the vulnerability of military children to child abuse and parental homicide.
Blue Star Families – an education and advocacy network to benefit the families of deployed servicemembers and veterans, is organizing a workshop for military veterans and their families. The workshop, which will take place at Old Dominion University on Saturday, September 8th, 2012, will feature a variety of workshops on various financial topics of interest to military families.
Workshop topics will include the following:
—Children’s Financial Literacy
—Post-Military Career Planning
—Military Spouse Portable Entrepreneurship
—Homeownership and Property Management
—Savings, Investments, and Retirement
—Managing Credit and Dancing Around Debt
The keynote speaker will be Keynote Speaker: Neale Godfrey, the CEO and chairperson of the children’s Financial Network. Godfrey has authored many books on financial literacy and child-rearing, including the New York Times bestseller Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children.
Additional speakers include:
- Admiral Craig Quigley, USNR, the executive director of Hampton Roads Military & Civilian Federal Alliance
- Dr. Vivian Greentree, Director of Research and Policy at Blue Star Families
- Veronica Jorden, a member of the board of directors at the Military Spouse Business Association.
The price of admission is perfect: Free! Also, child care for children ages 3-12 will be provided on-site, also free of charge.
The event will take place at the Webb University Center on the Old Dominion University Campus, 1515 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk, Virginia, 23508. Registration and breakfast will commence at 8 a.m., and workshops will begin at 9 a.m. and continue to 4 p.m.Interested participants can register online.
Auditions Open Through 8/31
If you have served in the Middle East, can carry a tune and live in the Delaware Valley area, you may be what producer Steve Holtzman is looking for.
Steve Holtzman is a seasoned reality tv producer, and Lou Faiola, of the Cherry Hill School of Rock, are collaborating on a new web-based reality show that will feature twelve musically gifted veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. The dozen talented men or women will form three rock bands and perform a Veterans Day concert.
Proceeds from all sponsorships, donations and ticket sales will benefit a non-profit organization called Give an Hour, based in Bethesda, MD. Give an Hour offers free mental health services to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.
According to an article on Westminster Patch, Holtzman was inspired to develop the show in part by his daughter’s transformation after attending the Cherry Hill School of Rock. He says his twelve-year-old has blossomed from a shy adolescent to a rocking lead singer in the Cherry Hill house band. And he doesn’t think tweens are the only people who can benefit from a musical experience. Holtzman believes the power of music can help make a positive impact on military vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
A review of the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder reveals that between 11-20% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD. These “invisible wounds” can have a profound impact on veterans’ adjustment to civilian life as well as to their families and loved ones.
Although no one will be kicked off any island or booted from any kitchen on this program, there will be plenty of excitement and drama in the 10-episode series. Viewers will follow the bands as from the first time they meet until the season finale: a benefit concert at World Café Live on Veterans’ Day. Part of their journey will include surprise challenges, cameo appearances and advice from celebrity musicians, and guidance from professional stylists and sound engineers. A prize package awaits the winning band, but every musician will be a part of something special: knowing they have helped those who served.
The first episode in the series airs Sept. 13 on the show’s website. The season finale will be a benefit concert at World Cafe Live on Veterans’ Day. If you think you have what it takes to compete on the show, or want to find out how you can help make a difference in a veterans’ life, check out the Bands of Brothers website.
Note: While we usually feature something lighthearted and entertaining on Fridays, the issue of suicide among servicemembers, and the news of an alarming increase in recent months, is of such importance that we didn’t want to wait until next week to post this story. We hope that we can return to more fun posts next Friday.
The Department of Defense announced that the number of service member suicides reached a new record in July, despite an extensive outreach program to educate military service members about how to get help for depression, how to identify other service members at risk of suicide, and training down to the boot level on how to provide buddy aid to help troops at risk.
While investigations are still underway in some deaths, the Department of Defense’s preliminary numbers indicate the number of servicemembers who took their own lives was 38 in July. That’s over 1 and a quarter every day.
Through the end of July 2012, the military reports 116 potential suicides among active duty troops (66 confirmed, with 50 still under investigation.
Among Reserve component troops (Reserve and National Guard), the Pentagon reports 12 potential suicides (9 Guardsmen and three reservists).
If current trends continue, losses from suicide will significantly outstrip last year’s total in both the active and reserve components.
Although the number of suicides among reservists remained roughly constant between June and July, the number of suicides among active duty troops more than doubled during the same time period. The military leadership is still struggling to find a satisfactory explanation.
The suicide rate also seems to have spiked with the end of formal U.S. military involvement in Iraq – and a marked decrease in OPTEMPO for the Army and Marine Corps, which now bear the brunt of the mission in Afghanistan.
While it is dangerous to infer too much from a limited data set, problems in the economy would not explain the increase in active duty suicides even as reserve component suicides remain constant: Despite an unemployment rate among military spouses of over 25 percent, the active component remains much more insulated against the weak economy than the reserve component.
According to reporting by Time, an analyst on the Army’s Suicide Prevention Task Force, Bruce Shahbaz, notes that there has been a recent demographic shift among servicemembers who choose to take their own lives: For the first time, suicides among NCOs are outpacing suicides among junior enlisted. According to Shabahz, the data suggests that the causes of the spike in suicides were more subtle than previously thought: Rather than related directly to the stress of deployments themselves and to economic pressures, suicidal behavior may be more related to difficulties in reintegrating post-deployment. While troops were going back and forth between home station and the GWOT in revolving-door fashion, families were able to mask some of the stresses – the warrior servicemember never fully reintegrated into the household.
“If you’re on the constant 12-month treadmill of deploy, reset, get ready to redeploy, deploy, soldiers and families don’t work hard to try to reintegrate, because they know that their soldier is going to be gone again,” Shahbaz says. “Issues like minor depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances – those things that are kind of related to post-traumatic stress – begin to surface after a service member has been home for more than a year, and start to reintegrate with their family…I liken it to a pot that’s on simmer – having that person stay back home and reintegrate with their family sometimes allows that pot to boil over.”
Do you need help?
If you or your loved one are at risk of suicide, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are in a military family, press 1.
Mental Health and TRICARE
Good news for those in need: TRICARE covers a wide variety of mental health services for military members and their families. Stay tuned to militaryauthority.com for a more in-depth look at mental health coverage under TRICARE.
Mental Health for GWOT Veterans and the VA
The Veterans Administration has offered expanded services and access to mental health care for veterans for up to five years after discharge from the military. So if you’re no longer eligible for TRICARE, this program may work for you. Unfortunately, the VA is struggling to keep up with demand for mental health care, leading to waiting lists that are weeks long in some areas.