Thursday, September 17, 2009

A military mom's week

A military-intensive week, it's been for me:

I am somewhere in the process of being appointed by the local Blue Star Mothers to be a deputy representative for the Veterans Administration Voluntary Services.   On Tuesday, I attended my first meeting at the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, NY.  I have lots to learn, but here are some of my first impressions:
  • The Stratton VA hospital is a very busy place. Parking is impossible.
  • There are lots of good folks working and volunteering there.

As the mother of a young woman currently serving in the army, I was especially interested to learn the the VA hospital is in the process of significantly adding to their services for females. There hasn't been much need before, but with the increase in females serving in the military (I have read in various places that women are now 20% of those on active military duty) the VA is having to play catch-up. Stratton is adding a Women's Wellness Center. Previously, they had no doctor on staff trained to do primary care for women. So, they are conducting "mini-residencies" for their primary care doctors and are trying to hire a half-time GYN specialist. Stratton didn't even own any pajamas or robes for women, but I understand those are on order, along with the equipment to do mammograms and DEXA scans...

If you live anywhere near a VA hospital, call their volunteer director and ask how you can help. Whether you want to cheer a lonely patient or just donate a $20 CD player, there is something that needs doing at nearly any level you're comfortable with. Please consider it.

Last night, I joined ten or so other Blue Star Mothers to help pack 70 boxes and prepare them to be shipped to deployed military service men and women.
After hand-writing about half of the 70 customs labels that needed to be prepared, I got grumpy about the fact that we must use these forms at all! How unfriendly the process is to groups like ours. Why should customs forms be required to send packages to US troops via US military planes to US bases?
Grrrrr!!! But here are the finished boxes, many now on their way to the 10th Mountain soldiers from Fort Drum we've adopted. I hope they enjoy a little taste of home.