2012 New Year’s resolutions for wounded warriors and families

A new year is here and with it comes the time for many of us to make goals and resolutions. For many Service members, a successful recovery for themselves and their families is at the top of the list of priorities. So, as you plan your priorities for 2012, we offer a few resolutions to help you on your road to a successful recovery and transition.

The hands of a clock move towards midnight with confetti and streamers in the air.

With a new year comes an opportunity to make new goals and resolutions. Consider making these programs and resources a priority in 2012 to assist you with a smooth and successful transition.

1. Schedule an appointment with your Recovery Care Coordinator, AW2 Advocate or other non-medical care coordinator and review your Comprehensive Recovery Plan/Comprehensive Transition Plan.

This document contains your Comprehensive Needs Assessment, as well as a list of actions and resources that will help you and your family meet those needs. As you continue on your path to recovery, your circumstances and needs might change, and your plan should be updated to reflect those changes. Take a few minutes to go over your plan, identify new needs and goals, and make the necessary updates so you can hit the ground running in the new year.

2. Attend a Transition Assistance Program virtual learning seminar.

Are you wondering how you can write a better resume? Are you looking for help making the most out of job fairs? Do you have questions about how to really succeed in a job interview or in the job market? Transition Assistance Program (TAP) virtual learning seminars cover all these topics and more, with the goal of helping you and your family plan for a successful and smooth transition. In a tough economy and even tougher job market, we can all use all the help we can get and TAP virtual learning seminars are the perfect way to get one step ahead of your competition. For a list of classes and to register, visit www.turboTAP.org.

3. Log on to the Virtual Transition Assistance Program (VTAP) platform and build a profile.

We recognize that transition is more than an end-of-career event, it is a military lifecycle event. Every Service member should be actively preparing for a successful transition whether you are leaving the military tomorrow or in 20 years. VTAP allows you and your family to start charting your course immediately so that you are prepared for a smooth transition whenever the time comes. When you build a profile on VTAP, you have access to a wealth of anytime, anywhere resources including an MOS/MOC translator, a jobs database and information about scholarships, grants and other financial aid for Service members, veterans and families. You can also upload your resume and make it available for employers to review. To build a profile, visit www.acceptance.virtualtap.org.

4. Visit the National Resource Directory and see what new resources are available in your community.

The National Resource Directory(NRD) contains more than 14,000 Federal, state and local resources for Service members, wounded warriors, veterans and their families, and new resources are added every day. If it’s been a while since you logged on to the NRD, visit the site and see what’s new in your community. You can also check out the NRD’s new mobile version, and the Veterans Job Bank, which launched in November 2011.

5. Keep organized and maintain your disability evaluation documentation.

Service members and families going through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process have many appointments, records, medications, boards and benefits to keep track of. Try utilizing a journal, planner, notebook, personal digital assistant, Smartphone, laptop or whatever method is best for you to keep all the information you need together and to give you reminders. Make sure you have the contact information for your PEBLO and MSC (the Department of Defense (DoD) Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer (PEBLO) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Military Service Coordinator (MCS)). You should reach out to them whenever you have questions about any part of the IDES process. Access the DoD Compensation and Benefits Handbook for Wounded, Ill and Injured when you need a quick reference guide. Remember to record your upcoming medical appointments so you don’t miss any. Reschedule only if necessary since that may add days or weeks to the process. Keep copies of all your treatment records and keep a record of all claimed disabling conditions during your initial interview with the VA MSC. Maintain a list of all your medications and consider adding the usage schedule to your calendar. Note how you felt when you took them so you can tell your doctor, and when you have questions for your doctor make sure to record those and bring them with you to your next appointment. Maintaining all this information may take some extra effort, but it will assist you and your family as you progress through the IDES process.

6. Recommit to being mentally and physically fit in the new year.

The road to recovery can be long and sometimes discouraging. It would be easy to stay in bed all day, or spend your time on the couch playing video games, but that is not what’s best for you or your family. Instead, resolve this year to explore activities that will help your mind and your body heal. Through Operation Warfighter, a Federal internship program, you could spend some time in a supportive work environment, using the skills you already have and learning new skills that will better prepare you for your transition to civilian life. Or you could start exploring your Service’s athletic reconditioning opportunities. Physical activity will not only strengthen your body, it will also improve your mind and remind you that despite your wound, illness or injury, there is still a lot you can do.

To stay updated on the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy, and programs like the ones we have talked about here, please also make a goal in the new year to follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WarriorCare and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WarriorCare. We wish you a healthy, happy and successful 2012!