Battlemind for Spouses enhances resiliency
September 4, 2009
- Battlemind for Spouses was created to achieve mental preparedness and financial well-being during post-deployment.
- The program helps strengthen marriage bonds during and after a deployment.
- Battlemind is sponsored by the Department of Defense
BAMBERG, German - Approximately 20 spouses from the 541st Engineer Company and the 16th Sustainment Brigade here were present at the post movie theater Aug. 19 to discuss and learn financial and mental preparedness for post-deployment.
Army Community Service employees and Military and Family Life Consultants combined efforts to present an informational and therapeutic program called Battlemind for Spouses.
Battlemind for Spouses was created to achieve similar mental and financial well-being to previous Battlemind programs geared toward Soldiers, such as the training offered through the Warrior Adventure Quest.
"Tonight's program is specifically geared toward spouses and will focus specifically on post-deployment issues that family members may experience as reunions occur," Samantha Windell, a mobilization and deployment specialist at ACS, said. "We do offer a pre-deployment Battlemind class for spouses with deploying Soldiers."
Along with her colleague, Eugene Newbold, Windell acted as the program facilitator.
"This is not the first Battlemind training to take place on the garrison," she said. "This training has been offered for awhile. The main goal for tonight is to make spouses aware of potential issues or concerns that may arise from the reunion with their Soldiers and to address any issues or concerns that the spouse may already have."
Eugene Woods was the first to present. Woods, a financial readiness program coordinator, explained the difference between financial readiness post-deployment and pre-deployment.
"It's the reverse of a pre-deployment talk, where you're saving, the impact on LES (Leave and Earnings Statement)," he said. "Once a Soldier returns from deployment, they'll see a difference 30-45 days later, in pay."
He suggested that couples track their budget.
"People hate to do it, but keep a spending diary and keep receipts," he said. "That money will dwindle. You can spend it, but track it."
A main point of discussion was the deployment entitlements that end when a Soldier returns from downrange, including Hardship Duty Pay, Family Separation Allowance and Hostile Fire Pay.
"This briefing is highly overlooked," Woods said. "You lose entitlements and federal taxes kick back in (post deployment)."
He also discussed the options Soldiers can take advantage of upon returning from a deployment. The Special Leave Accrual program and Savings Deposit Program are two of these.
"If the Soldier contributed to a Savings Deposit Program while downrange, they can choose to leave their savings in there for 90 days and continue to accrue 2.5 percent interest," he said.
Not only did Woods delve into the technical details of finances, but he offered tips on spending and tracking money.
"They [SDP personnel] will respond faster when dealing with an AKO account, verses a yahoo or other email account, because it's secure," he said. "Make sure you keep bank accounts active. Check MyPay to make sure the account you have listed is an active account."
Woods worked finance for 24 years in the Army before retiring and moving to the civilian sector. He has now worked at Bamberg's ACS for nearly three years. As a retired Soldier, Woods said he has witnessed firsthand the financial pitfalls awaiting re-deploying Soldiers and their families.
"Avoid impulse buying and quick scams," he said. "Soldiers are going to come back and want to spend money. Get them to track their spending."
Woods suggested a couple sit down and re-evaluate their financial goals. He listed some good investments, but does not consider a new car to be one of them.
"As soon as you drive a (new) car off the lot, it depreciates 20 percent [in value]," he said. "A home is a good investment, but do your homework."
Chaplain (Capt.) Scott Jackson, from the 16th Sustainment Brigade Rear Detachment, attended the program to show his support.
"I think it gives the spouses a perspective on their husbands or wives who are coming back," he said.
Military and Family Life Consultants Jeanne Corkill and Manny Litwek were the Battlemind for Spouses speakers. Sponsored by the Department of Defense, Battlemind focuses on a solution-oriented approach to pre-deployment and post-deployment issues that Soldiers, spouses and families face.
"This program is great," Corkill told the audience. "Battlemind basically highlights the experiences of the spouse during the deployment, and highlights the experiences of the Soldier during deployment. It offers skills to help the families reunite better."
Mental health and readiness, independence, navigating the Army system and emotional balance were all topics discussed. Audience members were invited to participate and several did, sharing personal successes, failures and tips on increasing communication and strengthening marriage bonds during and after a deployment.
One spouse commented on the importance of her personal support group through all three phases of the deployment, leading up to, during and in the months following it.
"Introduce your spouse to your support network," Corkill suggested. "The Soldiers give up many of the family roles since they've been away and you've taken on so many. Work slowly to get back to a balance."
Corkill listed the health, financial and social benefits of being within a military community during a deployment. She encouraged spouses to reassure their marriage commitment by being appreciative of one another and taking time for one another.
Another spouse, Christine Godbee, whose husband is deployed with the 16th Sustainment Brigade, encouraged those with returning spouses to take advantage of the marriage retreats offered through the Bamberg Chapel. Sharing deployment stories, communicating financial and marital well-being, and encouraging the use of post services were all aspects of the program, considered a success by attendees and facilitators.