Are you a military family with a deployed spouse? Supporting a family during this time with one parent potentially overseas can feel terrifying and overwhelming.
Whether you are struggling to make ends meet with finances or food, or you’re struggling emotionally due to the separation and the isolation that is required in many states to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, there are many options and resources available to help support your family during this trying time.
Let’s take a look at those military families COVID-19 resources and ways that you can find the support you need.
Military Families COVID-19 Resources
Let’s start with on-the-ground resources and information that you might be seeking during this time. Food and shelter are often most critical at any time, but especially during a global pandemic like this one. If you are struggling to find resources and assistance for food or for paying your bills, there are some options to utilize.
- Contact 211. 211 is a great first stop for figuring out what resources are available in your specific city. United Way runs this organization and they can help with food assistance, rent, bills, and mortgage assistance, sometimes in the form of monetary help. And if they can’t provide monetary support, they can quickly point you in the direction of someone who can help you.
- Contact your local food banks. Oftentimes a quick Google search will give you information about any food banks in your area, as well as what hours they operate and who they serve. Food banks might be a good option if you are feeling healthy enough to go in and pick up food. Their ability to serve might change slightly as greater restrictions are imposed across the United States due to the coronavirus, so it might be worthwhile to reach out to each one directly and see if they are serving the community in a different capacity.
- Ask for help in your local Facebook community groups. When people are experiencing times of need, asking for help can sometimes be the hardest thing to do. During the crisis, a lot of people want to help, but don’t know how, as they are asked to social distance and stay inside their homes. You can ask for help with your friends. You can write a post online explaining your situation, and it can be privately in a specific group versus broadcasting to all of your friends, and tell them what you need. Do you need groceries? Do you need toilet paper? Do you need medication? Be specific and see the community come together to support one of their own.
Military Family Assistance With Healthcare
Possibly one of the scariest parts of being a military family with one deployed spouse during this global crisis is the fear that you’ll get sick. If mom has to go to the hospital, what happens to the kids? What if the kids get sick? What if one kid gets sick? Will insurance cover the care? How do you know what to provide healthcare providers regarding your insurance?
- Make sure your military ID is up-to-date. When asked for your insurance information, everything a hospital needs is on that military ID. If it’s not current, they might still take it, but it could cause some tedious work that could be avoided by having a valid ID. You can update your ID by making an appt with your local DEERS office or the equivalent for where you’ll get your TRICARE information.
- Make a plan if you or one of your family members needs to go to the hospital. We are experiencing a lot of fear and uncertainty right now, and coming up with a plan can offer a little bit of peace of mind. If you have to leave your kids with someone, communicate that with the other person and have a logistical plan for that. Talk to your kids about it in a way that informs them, but hopefully doesn’t scare them too much. Practice social distancing and wash your hands!
- Have information ready to present to the Red Cross Emergency Communication Line. The Red Cross serves as an independent emergency assistance program. If you are experiencing an emergency (and have already called 911 and are treating it in the physical form), and need to notify your spouse of the emergency. The Red Cross Hero Care program is here to help. They can also provide emergency leave financial assistance for those in the military. You can initiate a request for emergency communications online or by phone at 1-877-272-7337 at any time, day or night. Hopefully, you won’t have to use this information, but it’s better to be prepared for peace of mind and just in case it’s truly needed.
Staying Updated on the News and Staying Mentally Healthy
Deployments are hard in general, especially as a family. One parent is gone from the daily life of their spouse and children, and one spouse is taking on the role of a single parent. Add in a rapidly spreading virus and global pandemic, and deployment can feel debilitating. First things first: breathe. Taking care of you, as a parent, support person for your deployed spouse, and first line of support and care for your children, it’s important to take care of your mental health.
Here are some mental military families COVID-19 resources, which are just as important as the physical ones.
- If you are struggling mentally, reach out for help. Contact friends, family members, or the veteran’s hotline at 1-800-273-8255, and press option 1, or text a message to 838255 to find the support you need. This hotline is for veterans, active-duty military members, as well as their family members. You can contact your insurance for what providers are still working during the crisis and can provide emotional and mental support, or look online for resources for military families.
- Be mindful of how much of the news you are consuming, and what you are sharing with your kids. Many kids are out of school right now and are spending all of their time at home if you are a non-essential employee and isolated at home. Even if you aren’t with them 24/7, it’s important to be mindful of how much of the news you are consuming each day. If you are watching or reading about breaking news (which is constant during a pandemic and in the age of social media), it might be worthwhile to limit how much you participate in this. By only checking the news twice a day, or even once, you can stay up-to-date with what’s going on, but also protect your mental health.
When you watch the news, make sure you aren’t watching it with your kids. It’s harder for kids to compartmentalize what’s happening, or to even understand it. When sharing about the crisis with them, keep things hopeful. Reassure them that you are safe and doing everything you can to remain safe. Let them know of any backup plans in case of emergency, how to call 911, and what your address is, Keeping them informed on a need-to-know basis.
Yes, there is a crisis happening. No, the world isn’t ending. Try to keep a new normal routine as much as possible to provide them a sense of security and predictability in this very unpredictable time.
Having a deployed spouse during a pandemic isn’t exactly an ideal situation, but it is what it is. If possible, keep communication lines open with the deployed parent so they can know what’s happening as well. At this time, the military paychecks aren’t disrupted, so there is security in knowing that one income is going to continue coming in. Teamwork makes the dream work and now isn’t any different.
Here’s a list of COVID-19 resources for Veterans.