Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Good Ripples

When I was very small I remember a neighbor coming to our house one day. Her name was Miss Thomas. I don't think my mother knew her well but she had a book for me. It was called The Mystery of Hallowdene Farm.  I think it must have been hers when she was a child because it was printed about 1920.It was just a gentle story for girls and I still have the book among my others.  Every time I look at that worn book I remember Miss Thomas and her one visit to our house.
My point here? It makes me remember how small things can affect others long after they might otherwise be forgotten and it is the small things that make up our day-today existence.

I see my life-actions as a series of ripples, like a stone thrown into a pool. The ripples move out, sometimes they mesh with other ripples and change direction. Sometimes they travel a long distance. We may never know what effect our ripples have. If we send out ripples of caring, love, compassion and understanding, these good ripples may have an effect that we are unaware of, or may never know about. That does not matter. When I smile at a stranger, allow someone ahead of me in the grocery line, say a cheerful word to a grocery store clerk or in other ways bring love and light to the people around me, I am sending out good ripples.
I wonder if a good ripple would have made any difference in the life of the persons who have wielded guns in this past week and taken so many lives.  We are unable to know, but this does not stop me trying to send out all the good ripples I can. I don't know if it would stop a person with murder in his heart. I don’t know if it would help a suicidal person stop and think before committing the act. I do know that I have to try.
The events of this past week are going to with us for a very long time. I cannot think there can be many people in the US who are not appalled by these recent shootings.  It does make me reflect  on the fact that we tend to ignore the small things in our lives.  Just think how good life could be if we all made an effort to send out those good ripples. Best of all it does not cost a thing.
Wishing you all a Blessed Holiday Season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Basics of Help ...

Greetings, friends,

For many of you, the following information will be basic and instinctive to you.  However, recently we’ve received 35 calls about how to navigate the medical or legislative system, and we thought the following guidance might be helpful.

What do I do when I need caregiver help?

If you are already in the National Caregiver Program, contact your Caregiver Support Coordinator (CSC) at your local VA medical center.  If s/he is not in, ask for the alternate, and leave a voicemail.  It’s a good idea to also follow-up with an email, and their email can usually be found through an Internet search.  You can ask for the email address, and if it’s not forthcoming, ask who else can help you.

If you’re not in the Caregiver Program, you can still use the Caregiver Support Line and request help and guidance.  If your issue is outside the responsibilities of the CSC, then ask who you should be directed to for problem resolution.  It will likely be someone else in the Social Work Office. 

Caregiver Support Line 1-855-260-3274

What do I do when I need help with my Veteran’s medical care?

If you have already spoken with your primary care physician, or in the case of mental health, the psychologist, we suggest contacting various VA advocates.  If your veteran is an OIF/OEF/OND veteran, there is a specific OIF/OEF Coordinator, whose name may be found with an Internet search, a VA website search, or by calling your local VA medical center.  They are often able to cut through issues very simply for you.

If the issue relates to a disagreement over care or other conflict, you would contact the VA Patient Advocate at your local VA.  This person may be found on the VA website, through an Internet search or by calling.  If there is a formal report or complaint to make, ask for the proper forms and be sure to follow all the steps directed so that you will find resolution.  You may need to be quite persistent, and you will need to judge the seriousness of your issue.

What do I do if I need help understanding VA process (paperwork, fee base, etc.)?

The Internet is an excellent source of information, but it may be a huge undertaking to find out the nugget of information needed.  Obtain one of the VA Handbooks on Benefits (you can download it or obtain a hard copy at your local VA) to find out who to talk with for specific needs.  

Why use a VSO?

We also highly recommend contacting one of the chartered Veterans Service Organizations (VSO’s) such as AmVets, Vietnam Vets of America, DAV, the Legion and others.  You can find a list on the va.gov website.  It is highly recommended that you use an organization to help you since VA benefits and processes change with the legislation and it can be a daunting task keeping up with the changes.

The importance of peers is...

Ask your fellow caregivers.  Your peers often have great experiences to share, so post here, write to your friends, and seek out others locally who can provide you practical information.  Seek out others while at the VA and absorb all you can; what you learn will either help you, or others in the future.

This is a starting point...

Linda Kreter & the VeteranCaregiver Team