2009-11-11 / Community

Veteran’s Day 2009

Blue Star Mothers explain “Wounded Warrior” program
SUBMITTED BY CONNIE KRAMER THUMB BLUE STAR MOTHERS

When a son or daughter enters into service in one of the branches of the United States Military, many parents and family members think about the inevitable “tour of duty” to far and distant lands where war and conflict pose danger to the soldier.

Blue Star Mothers through experience have learned some heartfelt lessons when a son or daughter serving in the military is injured, and through that experience offer the following recommendations and advice.

Emergency preparedness is a realistic discussion that needs to happen in each military family. A clear plan of action prepared, written and accessible will help to keep families focused in the event of a soldier injury or illness emergency.

Expedited passports still take two to three weeks to process. That means that if your child is injured and placed in a hospital in a foreign country you cannot leave to be with them until your passport is in order.

Not all soldier patients are shipped home to receive medical attention, either due to the severity of the injury or depending on medical services available; it could be days, weeks or months before patients arrive back on U.S. soil.

EVERY Blue Star Mother and Father should have a current passport in hand. Do not wait to apply for a passport. Every hour is critical in the case of an emergency.

How to apply for a United States Passport:

1. Application from either the post office or download from the US State Department web site a t www.travel.state.gov/passport/ passport Call before you go in order to verify the hours of operation and what you need in order to save time.

2. First time passport applications must be presented to the post office in person.

3. Two passport photographs can be done at the Post office.

4. Proof of U.S. citizenship: certified copy of birth certificate

5. Proof of identity: a valid driver’s license, government ID card, military ID card

6. Payment of a total of $97 in fees - $67 passport fee, $30 execution fee (check for updates of fees).

7. Social Security Number required on a document.

8. Expedited passports may be done but for an additional fee and the wait time is 2-3 weeks.

Married and unmarried soldier family members should make sure that information is available in a safe location so that the soldier’s personal and financial needs can be addressed.

The location of the soldier’s financial information, bank accounts, credit cards, car payments, location of car and keys, insurance information, storage of household items and other such obligations should be held by a trusted family member.

A serious family discussion must take place in regard to health care and quality of life issues. Difficult and emotional issues are easier on the family and the soldier when you are following directions rather than making decisions at the time of an emergency. Documents such as, Power of Attorney, Advanced Medical Directives, Wills, Estate and Funeral plans must be valid and held by a trusted family member or filed by an attorney.

Families should know and understand the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).

Who is best equipped emotionally to be a decision maker? Should the soldier be unable to make decisions for himself, there should be one family member who directs communication, knows the relevant deployment information such as Unit Assignment, Home Base, Soldiers rank and social security number and the local red cross number, and can make difficult decisions on behalf of the soldier.

The Blue Star Mother organization dedicates education and information toward family readiness and support. In depth information is available to Blue Star Mother members on the national web site. The Thumb Chapter #178 of Blue Star Mother’s of America, Inc. also provides information and assistance to members regarding the Wounded Warrior Program.

The Thumb Chapter of the Blue Star Mother’s regularly meets the last Wednesday of the month at Cousin’s Restaurant in Bad Axe. The meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

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