Military One Source
A dear friend asked me last week what my problem was with Military One Source (MOS), and I thought this would be a good topic for this blog. To be clear, my problem with MOS is not that I think they aren’t a good company or have usable and reliable resources for many military families. My issue with this group is that they aren’t helping us with anything remotely pertaining to PTSD or TBI. But I guess I should start at the beginning.
So throughout the deployment process, we as spouses were bombarded with all this information, usually in the form of packets. MOS always being at the top of the list, providing handy dandy magnets to place on our fridges in case of emergencies. The Army, or in our case the Army Reserves, really shoved MOS down our throats before and during deployment, making sure we understood that this company was our number one place to go to for all that fails while our soldiers were gallantly serving overseas.
Now when my husband was deployed, my oldest son was almost 10 years old. A friend of his lost his daddy over in Iraq, and my son really just freaked out over the fact that his dad was going overseas and he was going to get killed like so and so’s dad. No matter what I tried to tell him or explain, and no matter the promises from my husband…my son really struggled with this deployment. Walking past the fridge one day, I spotted the shiny magnet with the big number “1” on it and decided to call. The woman who answered was indeed very friendly and supportive over the phone. MOS offered to send my struggling son to counseling or to see a therapist at which I gladly jumped at the offer, all while singing my praises to this fantastic resource! While placed on hold, I felt so much better and somewhat relieved as this was our first deployment and I had never had to deal with my son in this type of emotional capacity. It went downhill from there…
We were given a list of doctors to call for ten free counseling sessions. However, each of the numbers were ones I didn’t recognize. I did call and discovered that these ten free sessions were actually in Nashville or Memphis, which is approximately four to seven hours away. I called back and found out that these were my closest and only options for sessions. Now, not sure what you’re thinking, but at this time the gas prices were what three years ago? $3.50 to $4.00 a gallon? I hadn’t gotten my husband’s first check in from the Army, and to top it off, had just given birth to my second son. Driving that far was not an option for my family. I ended up having to go outside in the civilian world to get the help I needed for my son.
After that, I pretty much disregarded MOS all throughout the deployment process and even after he came home. During six months of reintegration problems and serious emotional problems, I looked high and low for help only to find doors closed in our faces. We don’t live any where near a military installation and the VA was still months away from seeing my husband for the first time. I finally put my foot down and told my husband, “Let’s try Military One Source”. He fussed and cussed for months, but finally relented and made the call. So here I am sitting at the table with him, holding his hand for support and beaming with pride because he took the initiative to call. Meanwhile, in my head, thanking the big man upstairs for finally giving me some type of hope and please God, just swing us open a door our way to get him help.
Two hours on the phone, five transfers later…my husband bares it all. The drinking, the suicidal thoughts, the emotional problems he was having, the nightmares, the family problems, answering all the consultant’s questions. Two hours later, we got this answer, ‘Well, SGT *****, it sounds like you may be suffering from PTSD and you need help immediately. Unfortunately, we don’t handle PTSD or anything medical so there is nothing I can do for you. I will be glad to give you a call back if we come across any resources that might come in that relates to you, but until then I suggest you go to the VA”.
Well readers, I can assure you that this did not go over well with my husband. At all. The next thing I know, he is yelling at this man demanding to know why he just told him everything if they weren’t going to help him. Why did they waste our time? Why ask so many personal questions and in depth ones when all along my husband was telling him that he thinks he has PTSD. My husband hangs up the phone, throws it across the room shattering it, and uproots my kitchen table and sends it flying across the room. He yelled at me with tears streaming down his face and looked at me coldly and said, “Don’t you ever…I mean ever…tell me to call anyone else. I feel like a damned fool, and you said they would help! They didn’t help, they didn’t do anything except close another door”.
It was after that phone call that my husband went on a downhill spiral into the epitome of PTSD hell. Our family severely suffered, and we ended up separating for a while because he was so bad that I became worried about our children. Now, I am not saying that the young man on the phone wasn’t helpful or attentive, because he was. He was very polite and well mannered, always a plus in this Southerner’s book. But I blame them and the Army for not having the resources or help that was promised to us for two years. To give this young man credit, after being chewed out by an emotionally unstable person and then hung up on….he called us back! My husband refused to talk to him so I did. I gave him a piece of my mind and basically jumped down his throat and did a tap dance in his lungs! I did explain and apologize to him for taking it out on him, but he needed to know that my husband was in bad shape and basically on the verge of either drinking himself to death or planning a late night rendezvous with the business end of a Glock. Again, this man apologized and said he was sorry, but they just don’t deal with this “stuff”.
Still to this day, the Army is continuously shoving Military One Source down our throats as if they are the informational Messiah of all military branches. MOS is the resource haven to where you can get help for anything, the helpful saint of all that goes on in the military world and the families that live in it. The “Dear Abby” of all military life issues…except PTSD. A year later, I decided to try MOS one more time after being told by my military commanding officers that MOS has increased their help options and that includes PTSD. I was assured that this resource would not fail me or my family…guess what? Nothing had changed. I called again, and they did offer some marriage counseling, but the numbers they gave me were not participating in the program anymore or did not want to touch us with a ten-foot pole because of the fact that my husband was suffering from PTSD. They “simply do not have the experience with PTSD and all of its aspects to treat you or your husband”. Hey, at least they were honest. The two others…again six hours away or at the military post in Kentucky which is more than five hours for us. Five free sessions through Tricare, and the rest was paid out of pocket under our Tricare Reserve insurance.
Joining the FRG was a good thing for me, and I really like being around the ladies that are in it. I love the men and women in my unit and it does make me feel better knowing no one has to go through any deployments alone like I did because our FRG is so strong. I have been sent on several training trips and been put through all the online trainings as well when the money just wasn’t there to pay for me to go somewhere. It’s fantastic that the military wants their FRG leaders so heavily trained and armed with their own personal arsenal of information, rules and regulations, and resources. However, from trainings to Yellow Ribbon ceremonies (information debreifings that happen throughout the deployment cycle), MOS is always there. Naturally, I always stop and question them to see if they have any additional resources for PTSD or help. Nada. Yet, in the same trainings and Yellow Ribbons, MOS is pushed again and again for all help pertaining to reintegration, re-entering the civilian workforce and emotional problems such as PTSD. What is wrong with this picture?
I can be pretty outspoken sometimes, especially when I know something isn’t right. I still call from time to time, and I get transferred more times than anyone else I know after giving my name! Some days, I think there are consultants in a room somewhere playing paper, rock, scissors trying to see who is going to get the lady on line three. They have always been nice and informative on everything but these subjects, but it just irks me that this resource is being pushed so hard as the answer to everything when it’s not!
Recently, I had a soldier come to me in confidence and ask for help because he felt like he was having some issues and quite possibly PTSD. I gave him a list of resources, but as FRG, we are asked to pass them on to MOS. I did tell him that MOS didn’t help us, but things could have changed in the past year, give it a try. He called me back and said ” They asked me all these questions, and I answered and the lady said yes it sounds like you have PTSD, but you need to go to the VA”. That part frustrates the hell out of me. In most all units, there are horror stories floating around about FRGs, the lack of one or bad experiences within one. You either like them, or you don’t. It’s not one of the easiest things to do to gain soldier’s and families’ trust, especially if they have had issues with FRGs in the past, or if they are new to the idea. So when you do have the soldiers and families’ trust, you got to treat it with kid gloves. To have this young man call me back and sound so pitiful was a damned shame. I felt humiliated, not just because of Military One Source for not helping him, but because that is our only freaking option as far as help goes.
Fortunately, from experience in the state and area we live in, I was able to get him some help. We don’t live in the sticks, or some hick county in BFE but yet, we often hear from MOS that we are “geographically challenged to resources”. This isn’t in just our state, its in the surrounding states as well as I am hearing from more and more spouses like me and FRG leaders. Now in some states, or even other parts of this one, MOS seems to be the shining beacon of hope in many things like financial budgeting, homework help, grief counseling, etc. If you need language translation of documents, you are in the right place with them! The thing that bothers me is that with so many coming home with emotional problems such as PTSD and medical like TBI, you would think that this one well-advertised program would have something to give us besides, “Go to the VA”. I want so badly to ask, “How many have you turned away like my husband? How many went home and committed suicide, I wonder? How many families decided to split because there is no help for us or our soldiers? Why is the Army pushing us on all this Military One Source, your one-stop shop. if it truly isn’t?”
It’s very easy to shove those suffering from PTSD to the VA like a bunch of lepers. I wonder what some of those directors at MOS would say if they knew that the VA here has two doctors for more than 6,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans? I wonder if they know that the VA waiting list is no less than six to eight months? Out of all the information they have pooled to make this the number one resource for all that ails our military and their families, why haven’t they got something better than “Go to the VA”?
So dear friends, there is my “problem” with Military One Source. I know that they have hit/tweeted on this blog in regards to PTSD and I am so glad they did. Just for the record, I am not saying the whole program is bad…just in the case of us who are living with combat-related PTSD and TBI. Some of the fault lies in the Army because they are passing along false information and hopes for family members. In most areas, the referral for the “Give an Hour” counseling program is given, and that is a great resource for most people. Unfortunately, there is no one here who does this program, or if they did, they no longer are participating. Hopefully, someone will read this and say “Hey, you know she’s right, let’s seriously look into this”. I figure this way, they can’t put me on hold or transfer me a dozen times only to get someone who wants to transfer me back eleven more times and hangs up on me! So no disrespect to you Military One Source, but you gotta throw us combat PTSD and TBI spouses a bone…we are starving!
Still Seeking the Elusive Resources for PTSD and TBI,