As a service member of the U.S. military in Texas, who also happens to be a parent, you likely already understand how challenging it can be to juggle your military duties with your obligations and responsibilities at home. Nowadays, it's not uncommon for the same units to deploy two or more times, meaning you could wind up being separated from your children for a very long time on active duty.
Especially if you are a single parent, this can cause tremendous stress, which can be lessened if you have a thorough family care plan in place. The specific protocol for creating a family care plan may vary in each branch of the military. However, all plans have similar key elements, designed to provide for children's care and best interests in the event their parents are called away on active duty. There are various support resources available to assist you in executing a family care plan.
Issues you may want to address in your plan
A good family care plan covers both short and long-term possibilities regarding care of your children while you serve a deployment. The following topics are basic components of most solid care plans:
- You will want to designate a short-term care provider who agrees to be available to step in at a moment's notice and care for your children if your military duties call you away. This person should not be in the military.
- Sometimes, the short-term care provider will transfer your children to a long-term care provider. This typically occurs if your superiors extend your deployment or if a short-term active service suddenly changes to a long-term assignment.
- Your family care plan may also include a list of contacts, such as phone numbers and names of your children's physician, school officials, faith leaders and even close extended family members and friends.
- You can provide important health or medical information in your family care plan as well. For instance, if your child is allergic to a particular type of food, you would want his or her care providers to know this ahead of time.
- In addition to important documents and personal health information, you can specify anything you like regarding daily routines and family customs that you wish your children to continue while you're away. Your instructions may be simple or highly detailed.
A well-written family care plan can help protect your children and provide for their best interests while you are separated from them because of your military service. Depending on your deployment situation, you may not always have an opportunity to directly communicate with your kids as often as you'd prefer while you are serving overseas or in a combat area.
Many Texas military parents find it very helpful to ask experienced family law attorneys to review their prospective family care plans before filing. An attorney can also be on hand to help address any legal problems that arise while a parent is deployed.