Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jason - 15 Months

The time between these posts is feeling longer and longer. That's a good thing, right? Or we're getting busier and busier.

He came up to my work one day, all flustered, excited, and out of breath and said "Soooo, what if I got out of the Army?" I just stood there and was thinking "What the ....." (you fill in the blank) For as long as he's been recovering, his plan was to stay in the Army. He would put in a continuation on active duty or COAD packet when we returned to Colorado, and he'd get approved of course, and then we'd go back to normal. Nope. Now he has to go and change things up again. The main reason he wanted to stay in was for the medical benefits. If anyone knows how good they are, it's me. And he knows with a family now, it would be pretty stressful getting out of the Army and having to find affordable medical insurance for a family. Well, who knew that since he will be medically retired if he does decide to get out, his whole family (us) will qualify for Tricare for life. Life, people. That's huge. There are people that pay a grand a month just for health insurance!

Bring on the (pardon my French) clusterfuck of options. Does he still apply for COAD? There are drawdowns coming, especially now that Obama has been re elected. Will that affect his chances to stay in? One person tells us he will likely be denied since he has less than 15 years. I say that's bullshit. You have a soldier who was wounded, severely, and wants to stay in and continue serving, but you're going to tell him no thanks? Ha. That would be horrible PR for you, US Army. Other people say, oh you'll definitely get approved (he has to apply to stay in the army), and that they've never seen one denied. If he does stay in, what job would he do? Some people say he would go back to his original MOS which was Infantry. Yeah right. Some say he might deploy again. I say, no way, even if you do stay in, you can totally argue the deployment part. Well, he wouldn't, but I would for him. Some say, no no you will get to change your MOS. Well what jobs are open? We don't know, we have to wait until the COAD packet comes back. They'd only let him do jobs where his rank is needed. Then he may have to go somewhere else for training for that new MOS. Depending on the job, it could be weeks to months long. Then we go back to normal military life, we move around, and deal with silly army bullshit for 12 more years until he hits his 20 year retirement. Then when he gets out, hopefully he'd get the VA disability AND his Army retirement pay. Which still isn't that much for those of you who think we'd be sitting over here collecting all kinds of moolah from the government.

Or does he get out? What will he do if he gets out? How much money will he get for disability? Will I need to work full time again? Will he be able to work full time and go to school? Or will he only work part time and go to school? For these decisions we would need to know how much money he is entitled to from the VA and disability in order to decide who works where and how much. This has been the biggest headache thus far. You would think they would have this process streamlined by now, but they most certainly, do not. Every single person we talked to, including legal, told us something different. None of them were right. I still wonder if we've gotten any correct answers.

Jason signed his 199 which is a form stating the rating the VA gives him. He signed that he agreed with it, and did not want to appeal it. Mistake. He should've signed that he disagreed with it, and that he did want to appeal it. We only found this out because we happened to be sitting in an office with other guys who are also going through the process (who, by the way, have all four limbs and a higher disability rating than Jason). But let's not get on that soap box. Jason was almost in tears out of frustration. "How am I supposed to know what I can and can't appeal or what I should or shouldn't sign? I've never done this before! Why is no one telling me anything right?!"

I have been trying to be more involved since we've gotten back, but it's awfully hard with work and Cooper. I have also been trying really hard to let him take care of these things on his own because I can't do everything for him forever. The issue lies within his military training, I'm convinced. For eight years, he was taught to never question orders. You do what you're told. Except for now. But it's taking him quite a while to realize that. He believes what people tell him because he doesn't know any different (and neither do I!) and that is the most frustrating part. It feels like they are just pushing him through, trying to get him to sign whatever they need signed so as to speed the process up and they can move on to their next case. I refuse to be one of those cases that finds out after it's too late what we should've done. I've told him that over and over again, but I can only do so much.

 All this, and they didn't even rate his mangled arm and hand. And then he was told he had to be a veteran before he could appeal the VA rating. Not true. But had we listened, he would've been out of the Army, out of a paycheck, and waiting and waiting for the VA to rewrite his rating. Sounds like fun, right? I just get annoyed because the families going through these huge changes have already been through so.much.stress. Adding financial stress on top of it, and the stress of the soldiers future, is huge. I mean, we are by no means headed for a divorce, but it's quite easy to see why people do after dealing with all this. This is our LIFE! How is that so hard to understand? We cannot sit around and wait for you to decide how disabled you think my husband is because that doesn't pay the bills! Such is life, right? People do this every single day, and we have to put our big girl panties on and start pinching pennies.

It stresses me out to think about it anymore. On a happier note, Jason has been meeting with the personal trainer I set up for him twice a week unless he has other Army fun stuff to do. Today he informed me that he has lost 15lbs so far, and 7% body fat. He's pretty excited about it, and hopefully his progress will motivate him to continue working hard! I'm still meeting with my trainer twice a week, and I've lost around 10lbs and holding strong there. If we were better about our nutrition, we'd both be seeing lower numbers on the scale. It's so hard to stay motivated after working all day. How do you do it?

He is scheduled for laser hair removal in a couple of weeks for his leg. He gets ingrown hairs all the time, and they're hoping this will take care of the problem. He's going to shave his leg soon to prepare, and you can be sure I'm going to document that!

This Veteran's day we celebrated a year with half a middle finger. Ha. It was a year ago, and I remember because it was my baby shower weekend, and he was so bummed that he had to be readmitted to the hospital over Veteran's day weekend. That hospital stay was nothing like the first, of course, and as soon as he was discharged we hopped on a bus and went to Ocean City for the weekend.

Maybe next month, we will have a more clear view of where this life is taking us. More and more, this is becoming our home though. I am so ready to buy a house here, and stop wasting money on rent. We will make it back out East, but maybe not until he's done with college. And you better believe I'm excited as all get out to be saying that :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cooper - Month 10

Dear Cooper,

This month has flown by. You are growing so fast, and learning something new every single day. I know I've probably said that for the past few months, but I can really see the gears turning in your smart little brain these days. One day you discovered the stairs, and made it up three of them before I ran to be your safety net. You still haven't figured out that they could be a pretty fun game, which is fine by mommy. You will crawl all the way to the top if we let you, though.

You continue to be so flexible and mellow. You often only take one nap a day because we're always out and about. You still refuse to nap at daycare for anything longer than 30 minutes. If you get tired or fussy, your thumb is still your best friend. You still sleep through the night, and wake up happy as a clam every morning.

You've had a couple bouts with the stomach bug, and teething, which have made you a little less the happy you everyone knows. You pulled through, and now have 6 teeth! Your upper incisors came in before your middle two, so you look a little like a vampire until the middle two finish coming in. I think you're a pretty cute vampire, myself.

You now scrunch your nose up and get squinty eyes and smile so big you show me all your teeth. It is one of my most favorite things to watch you do.

You are almost standing by yourself, but no efforts to walk yet without holding on to anything. Everything still goes in your mouth, including the dog food. Her water bowl is one of your favorite things to play with. You also love measuring cups. You have a heap of toys, but always go straight for the measuring cups. You carry them around, and love to bang them on the walls to hear the different sounds.

You continue to impress me, and make me so proud to call you my son. You are the light of my life, and I really want to freeze time to keep you this small forever.

I love you, sweet Cooper!