Having one or both parents away on military deployment can make for a stressful and complicated situation. Having a thoughtful army family care plan in place can make everything in the home run more smoothly. Understand what should be included in a family care plan and where to receive military assistance to create your own.
What to Include in an Army Family Care Plan
The military often takes parents away from their children for active duty or training purposes. When this shift in care occurs, careful plans have to be laid out.
Assign a Caregiver
Designate a trusted person to take care of your children while you are away. The person left responsible for your offspring will need to be granted power of attorney, which explains the responsibilities that a guardian takes on while in charge of your children.
Straighten out Dependent ID Cards
Ensure that identification and commissary cards for all members of the family are kept in an accessible spot. Everyone should be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), and all ID cards should be up to date. Check expiration dates on cards prior to being deployed.
Prepare for Possible Travel
Arrange for travel so that your children will be able to get to you during times of leave. If possible, pre-purchase plane, bus, or train tickets and have a way for your children to get from their place of arrival to the home of their guardian. If this is not a possibility, set aside money for caregivers to use for transportation needs when and if the option arises.
Get Affairs in Order
Get your estate in order by drafting a will. While a hard subject to think about, you must have a legal document in place in the event that you are incapacitated or pass away during your deployment or even on a drill. Contact a lawyer who specializes in this area of law to help you get your affairs in order.
Straighten Out Pertinent Paperwork
Making sure pertinent paperwork is taken care of is an important task to attend to prior to any deployment.
- Enroll in a life insurance plan. Look into help sites such as the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance or a similar plan designed for members of the military.
- Establish the location of important documents. Make sure your will, insurance information, and the children's birth certificates are in a safe and accessible spot for caregivers.
- Update relevant medical information. Make a list of medical conditions, prescriptions, and allergies. Have upcoming doctors, dentist, and ophthalmologist appointments pre-scheduled and noted on a calendar. Include medical providers on a master list of important contacts.
Establish Ways for Family to Have Needs Met
Make sure that your children's caregiver knows how to access all basic needs such as food, medical needs, transportation, and housing.
- Consider specific needs:.Create a list of more possible specific needs that could arise during your time away, ranging from emergencies to holidays and birthdays.
- Provide means for your children's guardians to access necessary funds to pay for their care. This might be included in your power of attorney, or it might mean setting up a separate bank account that the guardian can access.
Lay Out Your Life for Them
Imagine stepping into a life with children that are not yours! Taking care of an already established family is complex and tedious. The more information that you provide caregivers upfront, the less difficulty they will have running your ship and the easier the transitions will be on the children.
- Explain how your family works. This should include information like whether you and your children attend religious services regularly, what you expect from your children in terms of performance at school, and how you expect the guardian to discipline the children. Give caregivers a crash course in your family culture to ensure that all runs smoothly while you are away.
- Make checklists- Make checklists for school and sports. Include items that the children already have or will need to be successful in these areas while you are away.
- Create specific routines for caregivers to rely on. Lay out schedules and routines for school, home, and sports. Run through these routines with older children prior to deployment. Consider holding a meeting with caregivers prior to deployment so that you can go over this information and allow them time and space to process and ask questions.
- Create calendars. Make calendars for everything! Include times and dates for school, school, sports, and religious services. Color coordinate activities or consider using master calendars as well as activity-specific calendars.
- Update contact information. Have a master list of possible contacts that caregivers may need during your absence. Include a section for neighbors, friends, and children's friends' parents. List relatives, school phone numbers, sports coaches, doctors, and dentists. Make sure you have a section listing contact information for your military unit, Commanding Officer, First Sergeant, any other supervisors, as well as your point of contact at the family readiness program.
For further information, resources, and assistance with a military family care plan:
- National Guard Family Assistance Centers
- Legal Aid for the Military
- Military One Source
You should also consult with your Base Commander. In many cases, your Commanding Officer must approve your care plan.
Create One Now for Peace of Mind
An army family care plan is essential for caring for your family while you are away, be it on a long-term deployment or just drilling for a weekend. This will ensure that your kids are taken care of in a manner that you consider appropriate while you are away. Having one will give you the peace of mind to concentrate on your duties in your absence.