His DD-214 & My Anxiety About the Future

Monday, February 17, 2014

My anxiety is pretty high right now, I'll admit it.

I have been pouring over the internet for a good hour in search of resources and some direction, and I keep coming up against the DD-214.

A DD-214 is defined as:
The DD Form 214, officially DD Form 214 "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty", but generally referred to as a "DD 214", is a document of the United States Department of Defense, issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation or discharge from active-duty military.
My husband is currently in his first round of limited duty. He finished convalescent leave at the beginning of this month. The powers that be have already implied that he will be eligible for a second LIMDU, and that he may even be eligible for the mythical third, depending on his rehabilitation and recovery.

Aside from that, no one seems willing to discuss the possibility of medical retirement versus medical separation. With the way the Navy is these days, we can only imagine it will be the latter. What then?

My anxiety is high because I am a afraid of a lot of things right now:
  1. I have seen how people react to my husband being in a wheelchair. Even when he is walking, we have been told his gait may never be the same; he may need a cane. I am afraid that prospective employers will discriminate, even though they aren't supposed to. I mean, let's face it, people do a lot of things they aren't supposed to. I worry about our financial future, and about our dreams of owning a home and building our future.
  2. I'm afraid of the boards. There will be so many boards. They have assured us of that. Boards to certify if he has returned to "deployability," boards to determine his degree of disability if he hasn't, boards to determine percentages. There are too many acronyms to keep up with, and it feels daunting even though it could be anywhere from 4-15 months away. 
  3. Many of the resources I have come across require a DD-214, so I'm left wondering if we are left in this invisible limbo. I'm afraid of the unknown, of the immensely heavy lack of knowledge that I feel every day, and I feel frustrated every time I see a resource asking for a virtual upload of this form just to access the answers to my never-ending questions.
  4. I'm afraid of not being accepted, of people not accepting my husband. So much of the WW literature focuses on veterans and active duty personnel injured in combat. We both feel like imposters, even though our lives are impacted by similar trials of pain management, nightmares, stupid fights, lazy space-out days, ignored chores, and the hassles of transportation and caregiving.
  5. I'm afraid because there is still so much that I don't understand about how they-the fuzzy but all powerful they-decide between medical separation versus medical retirement, and what it will mean for us moving forward.
  6. I worry that if my husband returns to full active duty, our life here in WA will be over, because they have assured us he would be "hot-racked" for his next billet. I worry about leaving the support system we have built, and most of all, I worry about him being on a ship. I feel like my image of him as injured will never fade, and I worry about how that will affect our relationship.
  7. I am afraid of what the permanent damage that has been done to my husband's self-esteem. When he joined, he had dreams of becoming a Chief like his father, and of becoming a Warrant Officer. Unless he returns to full active duty and somehow finds the stamina and willpower to re-enlist, this dream is gone forever. He brushes it off, repeating that it's "OK" and that dreams change, but I worry that he isn't telling me the truth.I worry even more that he isn't being honest with himself, and I am afraid I don't know how to tell the difference.
  8. This last one is more selfish, but I am afraid of a life not connected to the military. Growing up, my father was in the Army. Most of my elders have served in one branch or another. I have worked and volunteered with the military for most of my adult life in some capacity or another. However, my milspouse lifestyle may be nearing an end. My own dreams of becoming a Commissioned Officer may never come to fruition because of my fears of leaving my husband alone. I am afraid of leaving the military lifestyle completely. I feel safe and comfortable in it. I know it well.
These and so many other thoughts fill my mind from time to time. One minute, we can be enjoying dinner, and then it occurs to me how different our lives are and will forever be in comparison to that day in March when my husband took his oath at MEPS and an able-bodied future lay open at our fingertips. That excitement had been replaced with anxiety, fear, stress, and foreboding. The DD-214 looms in our future, as it does for all service members.

This is just never how I expected it to be. 

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