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Sick Spouse Could Get Stuck Overseas Without Soldier

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am a German citizen, married to a U.S. soldier who is stationed in Germany. We have been married for eight years and he adopted my two children. I also have a chronic illness, multiple sclerosis. My condition often does not allow me to drive, walk or function in daily life. Our PCS date is December 20, 2015 and my husband is currently in the field. He is not able to come home until mid-November to take care of paperwork that needs to be submitted. I have doctor statements saying that our assignment should be changed to a location where our family has support when my husband is deployed or not able to be home.

My husband has PTSD and he shuts down and does not take care of important things when life becomes stressful. (I am not sure if I should blame the PTSD or if he just can't understand the consequences for his actions). He has been seeing a counselor once a week for a few months now but I am not seeing improvement in his behavior. He failed to submit visa paperwork for our kids and me, which will leave the kids and myself without health insurance, housing and school privileges if the visa process is not finished by our PCS date.

We have been having arguments for more than six months for the same reasons and nothing changes. We also had a few sessions with two marriage counselors, who told him that it is important to do the required paperwork if he does not want his family to be left behind in Germany. His answer was the same each time: “Yes, I know, I am so sorry I put my wife through so much and I will start the process this week for sure.” With my husband in the field, this puts a lot of stress on me and he does not feel obligated to help out in any way. He apologizes for not taking care of his family, he feels like he ruined our lives, but he still won't try to handle things differently. Can you suggest anything how I should approach the situation without anger and blaming statements? 

-- Stressful PCS Move

Dear Stressful,

I hope you are doing well. I have some good news for you. Regarding the PCS move, this is very simple: first, you can have power of attorney so you can handle of much of the paperwork for this PCS move even if you have to do most of it by phone for example.

Second, you should be with the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) and be assigned a case manager who helps with all of your PCS moves. Your primary doctor should refer you to EFMP. If you are not registered with them you can call on base/post to speak with them. They can explain the process to help you get enrolled. You are trying to handle too much yourself when there are professionals and programs in place to help you.

EFMP is for family members with a special medical or educational needs. Your enrollment will ensure that your PCS moves are documented and considered during the assignment coordination. You should be receiving special medical services, too. Of course, your medical diagnosis could be a factor in the follow on assignments your husband receives because there has to be medical providers who can help you at your next assignment. This is nothing to be ashamed of or for you to feel bad about. This is for your benefit and you shouldn’t feel like you are hindering your husband’s career. Again, you should definitely have power of attorney so you can ensure that coordination of services is being done and please enroll in EFMP. I hope this helps.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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