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The other notification – how do we DO that?

February 26, 2012

This week, we’ve been talking about the latest episode in the ongoing saga of how notifications are done in our community with spouses blathering on Facebook before official notification – as After Blast Warrior Wife calls it “grief mongering” in her piece on WIA Notification.   This is something that is not as formal as the “final notification” that we all know.

I was shocked to learn that there isn’t any set way of notifying families of wounds! And that scares me.  Many soldiers, sailors  go downrange as an IA (Individual Augmentee). My own husband is downrange with a group of people I have never met, and whose names I don’t know; and with a rear det that is remarkable for it’s complete lack of contact with families; and a FRSA who really is lacking in any type of compassion or usefulness; and no FRG or contact list.  This is not the most comforting when the news is not good.

As ABWW suggests ” No matter where you are in the deployment, call your rear-d command and contact the down range commander and/or first sergeant about this right now.”  if you are in the predeployment phase – I’d suggest bringing this up to them.  Find out how they are going to do this, will there be a chaplain or a care team available?  Will you get a phone call, or an inperson notification? Will your FRG leader know before you do, to be there for you?  Will you, as an FRG leader, be expected to be there and what support will there be for you?  There’s a lot to think about, and most people really don’t want to think about this.

ABWW also drives home another point here – and for anyone with family that is scattered and not “close” in any way – how DO you tell the parents/siblings/friends?  Talk about this with your soldier!  If (heaven forbid) you get this news, it’s going to be easier on YOU if you have worked this out and don’t have to wonder “who do I call first”.  If you can work out a phone tree with the family – all the better.

But to piggy back on what I said yesterday – SHUT UP and wait for the notification before you blab about someone else’s news.  If your spouse tells you that Joe has been wounded, SHUT UP and make sure Joe’s wife knows before you post something on Facebook, before you text her and say I want to help.  When you KNOW for sure that she’s been told, be there.  If you are close by, BE THERE.  If you can help with taking care of the family pets, or if you can take the kids out for a little while and let the spouse have some time to figure out what’s going on, BE THERE.

ABWW gives some great tips for how to cope – go over and read.  One that I cannot emphasize enough – be prepared.  Know what you and your soldier want; get that passport in case you need to travel to Landstuhl (and no, it’s not just that they think he’s not going to make it); figure out who will be there to take care of the kids or the pets; do you have anyone you trust to pack up the house and get you signed off post?  Get everything organized and written down somewhere, so you don’t have to try to think about those things while you are in shock.

None of us want to think about our loved one being wounded.  But we’ve all talked about “anticipatory grief”.  ABWW makes it pretty clear, we need to be anticipatory in this as well.

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