Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fighting the VA ~ Our "other" job ~ Part 1

Caregivers know what we have to do aside from taking care of our husbands, children and homes. But it occurred to me that civilians don't have any understanding of the "fight" we have to endure with the VA or the Army or Social Security or the courts. We have to become knowledgeable in medical codes and laws and rules in order to get our husband's what they deserve!

Our husbands joined the military for their various reasons and were trained to be killers for the United States military. The US military needs killers to keep everyone else safe! Then the President calls up our soldiers and asks them to carry out unthinkable and unspeakable acts which endanger, injure, and forever change our soldiers. In some circumstances a soldier returns home with injuries and in even fewer circumstances these injuries are so severe that they can't work.

If you have read anything else in my blog you know that Dean can't work. His injuries (TBI and PTSD) make it so he can't hold any stable employment. He is actually unable to keep himself safe and alive.

  • He doesn't eat unless I tell him and without eating he would likely lose consciousness (since he gets very dizzy and weak when he hasn't eaten) and eventually he would get lethargic and eventually I imagine he'd die. 
  • He doesn't take his meds unless I give them to him and without his meds he'd likely be permanently hospitalized as he'd have such severe headaches that he'd probably kill himself to stop the pain and he'd have such nightmares that he'd likely kill himself to stop the craziness and without the anti-depressants he'd likely kill himself because his depression would tell him he doesn't deserve to live. 
  • He doesn't shower unless I tell him. Now I don't think not showering would kill him, but it would cause sores and smells that would likely make people stay away from him. Sores could become infected and he could die from an infection since he wouldn't recognize the seriousness of it.
  • He can't be in public on most days without anyone there to help him understand others words and actions and without help to respond in a way that wouldn't be threatening. Most days it's like his brain's wires are crossed. He will sit by the window with his eyes and his head hurting while his sunglasses are hanging on his shirt and he won't think to put them on. He'll be laying in bed resting and be shivering cold and won't think to put the blankets on himself. With this kind of disconnect at home, in public it's really confusing for him. When people look at him and he doesn't know what that look means or if someone bumps him and he can't figure out that that was an accident or if someone talks to him but he didn't hear them and they get all defensive...he can't understand these social interactions. In public and around people he tries so hard to be polite and acceptable that when things happen that he feels his ability to control himself slipping away, he has to get out of there. When you add in the fact that in his mind everyone in that store or on the street is a potential terrorist/enemy and he has to spend his brain power trying to assess the danger he gets really exhausted. When he has to talk to someone, say at the post office, he slowly asks a question hoping his words make sense to them and then quickly blurt out their words to answer him, he didn't know what they just said so he asks them to please talk slower. Then they look at him like he's some kind of dummy and they talk down to him. Then he gets angry because they are being disrespectful and he has to get out of there without his question being answered. Now the thought of having to go out and talk to people causes the same anxiety. If he were left to do these kinds of things alone he'd either kill someone once he reached his breaking point, kill himself due to the overwhelming despair he feels, or he'd never leave the house. 
These are just a few examples of how Dean wouldn't be safe if he were left to care for himself. The are also examples that illustrate how he is unable to work. He may, on a good day and with me helping him achieve that good day, be able to "work" for 6 hours or so but he couldn't do that day after day nor could he do this without me helping him have good days, and a person can't live working 24 hours a month.

When a soldier's injuries are interfering with his livelihood he is usually advised to seek help at the VA. When a soldier's injuries are so bad (like Dean's) that he can't get himself to the VA and he certainly can't understand what to do with whatever they tell him, we have to hope that that soldier has someone in their life to help them! That's where I come in. 

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