Sept 25, 2010

This is the first of a two-part series published in my column in the Owen Sound Sun Times … Sharin’ with Sharen.  It is titled “Long Term Care…where the living is good.” This article is about a woman who lives in Lee Manor in Owen Sound and it talks about the services one can acquire when living in a LTC facility.  Connie recalls her experience at home before admission to Lee Manor and shares her experience with the reader as she settles in to life there.  Part two of the series will focus on further services available in LTC facilities, the difference between LTC and retirement homes and how to be assessed for LTC living.

http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=2769684

This is an article I wrote for my column Sharin’ With Sharen in November 2010 for the Owen Sound Sun Times.

Centre helping military families cope with unique situations.

Life for military families can be challenging. Just ask Kira or Angella and they will tell you that they face unique obstacles.

The Meaford Family Resource Centre, located at the Land Force Central Area Training Centre Meaford is a place where these families come to share their experiences, get counselling, find information about the surrounding communities and to find child care relief.

Kira Tobin is the family separation and reunion coordinator at the centre. She has an educational background in psychology and she is the spouse of a soldier. Her husband has been in the military for over 10 years so she knows what deployment is all about. In her role she provides outreach to families during the “emotional cycle of deployment.” Some of the services she offers are home visits and phone calls.

When the troops return there are challenges to reintegration that they must deal with as individuals and as families. Since this training centre is a much smaller base than one such as Petawawa there is a lot of peer support here. Angella says that “it’s good to get other people’s perspectives and you are more likely to ask questions.”

Angella is the personal development coordinator at the centre. But she has also been a military spouse for 19 years. She has two young daughters, 1 1/2 and five years old. Her husband is on a tour of duty and will be home by Christmas. He is in Afghanistan now but has seen duty in Bosnia and Sierra Leone.

Angela’s role at the centre is to support spouses and new families with anything they may need as they move to the area and experience deployment. She organizes monthly dinners for military spouses among other social activities.

The MFRC offers many other services to military families. There is an employment assistance coordinator, volunteer coordinator, parenting coordinator as well as a day-care centre.

Gail Lindsay is the child care supervisor and she offers parenting support. The daycare centre is licensed for three infants, five toddlers, eight preschoolers and eight other children up to age six. The majority of children who attend the daycare are from military families, however civilian families are welcome to enroll their children.

According to Lindsay you “must have a different mindset when working with military children.” She explains that, for example both parents could have post traumatic stress disorder. She sees many different behaviours with the children but it is often helped with “TLC and a hug.”

There is a program offered at the daycare centre one Saturday per month called the Playzone Express. This is for children up to age 12 years and is to provide parental relief for families. There is a small fee for this service. The childcare centre also provides respite and casual care for military families on an as-needed basis.

The military base is a training base and does not have Private Married Quarters (PMQ’s) so families must live in the outlying communities. This can result in feelings of isolation for families. That is why the MFRC is such a vital service to the families. Kira says that the “help here is help you can’t get anywhere else.”

Deployment from the training base can mean that a soldier is in Petawawa on training exercises and comes home once a week or two. It can also mean that he/she is on training somewhere else in the country and is not able to come home very often. Then there is the deployment that most people are familiar with, which is deployment to the current assignment in Afghanistan. That means six months or more away from family and friends.

Angella anxiously awaits her husband’s return from Afghanistan before Christmas. When asked how she copes with the fact that he is in danger she says that she “puts it in the back of my head.” She adds “I don’t watch the news or read the papers. I keep busy.”

That is one of the many reasons for the active social calendar at the MFRC. This keeps the spouses and children busy during deployment. Active minds are too busy to focus on the danger that their loved one may be facing.

Sadly there are military families in need. This year the MFRC is sponsoring “Operation Secret Santa.” If you are interested in making any kind of donation or volunteering with at the centre call the MFRC at 519-538-1371 ext 6509. Also check out the website www.mfrcmeaford.com.

This Christmas, a five-year-old girl named Gabrielle is very excited. She says that Santa is bringing her daddy home on his sleigh from Afghanistan. Christmas isn’t that far away Gabrielle.

Article ID# 2854960

October 2010

http://www.themeafordindependent.ca/news/community-news/963-maggies-quest-progressing

February 2011

http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2942609

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