GETTING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS

I don’t know why it is so stressful getting through the holidays some years.  Maybe it’s because I have this idea in my head of what should be happening this time of year.  All my problems should just drop away, and there should be plenty of money on hand to buy those gifts I want to give.  Family members should be supportive rather than criticizing every move I make, and there should be plenty of time to enjoy the spirit, lights, food, and music of the season.  But it just doesn’t seem to work out that way!

It will be another lean Christmas at our house this year as I struggle financially to meet all the bills.  There are unexpected doctor bills that have to be paid, a death in the family to cope with, constant criticism from those who should be there for me like I was for them, and there just isn’t enough time to enjoy the season like I’d like.  The holidays aren’t always full of joy and good cheer.

Every now and then, I have to stop and do a reality check.  It’s not going to be like it was in all those shows I watched when I was growing up.  The town folks aren’t all going to chip in and pay my bills.  Santa isn’t going to stop here and make everything better and help me cope with things.  People aren’t filled with cheer and good will toward men, and the tree isn’t overflowing with gifts.  But then, that isn’t what Christmas is about anyway.

Sometimes it just slams into me that I am the reason I have so much stress in my life.  My expectations are one thing, and reality is so different.  But, there are so many good things going on in my life too!  There is work to do.  None of us has a terminal disease.   We have enough food on hand to get through the holidays, and even enough to let several friends join us for Christmas dinner.  In so many ways I am so blessed!

Take the time to focus on what’s good in your life right now.  While I may not have everything I want for Christmas, I do have blessings to be thankful for each day, and I need to remember them so I don’t get overwhelmed with negativity.

This year, remember that each day is a victory, and there are good things going on as well as bad.  May your season be filled with peace – Happy Holidays.

AID AND ATTENDANCE PROGRAM

The Veteran Aid & Attendance Program is designed to help families of veterans who require assistance with in-home care.  The program provides additional funds for helping families purchase the help needed to care for the veteran.  This care can be provided in the veteran’s home, or in an assisted living home.

To apply for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension, you will need the following documents. Prepare these before filing.

  • Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214). If you need to request military records, you can either fill out Standard Form 180 or, you can visit http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/standard-form-180.html. Full instructions on how to request military records is listed on that site.
  • Copy of Marriage Certificate and all marital information.
  • Copy of the Death Certificate (surviving spouses only).
  • Copy of current Social Security Award Letter (the letter that Social Security sends at the beginning of the year stating what your monthly amount will be for the following year).
  • Net Worth information, including bank accounts, CDs, Trusts, Stocks, Bonds, Annuities, etc.
  • Proof of all income from pensions, retirement, interest income from investments, annuities, etc.
  • If you are a court-appointed guardian of the veteran or surviving spouse, a certified copy of the court order of the appointment is required.
  • Proof of insurance premiums, medications, medical bills or any other medical expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
  • Physician statement that includes current diagnosis, medical status, prognosis, name and address, ability to care for self, ability to travel unattended, etc. If you are a veteran in a nursing home, or a family member of a veteran in a nursing home, you can use this form as a certification of that status: Nursing Home Status Statement
  • Banking information for Direct Deposit of A&A monthly payments (include a voided check).
  • Employment history (does not apply if you are over 65)
  • List of all doctors and hospitals visited in the last year Once you have this information compiled, you will need to obtain and complete VA Form 21-526 and/or VA Form 21-534 for Special Improved benefits with Aid & Attendance.
  • VA Form 21-526 (For Veterans)
  • VA Form 21-534 (For Spouses) If you need assistance with filing your paperwork, you can contact the VA. In mailing your application, we highly recommend that you send your completed application via “Return Receipt” to help avoid the potential of the VA stating that the application was not received.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS?

The holidays are here, and with them come large family gatherings, parties, electric parades, children full of laughter and excitement, and all the hustle and bustle that is such a part of the season.  But for those who suffer with PTSD, the holidays can bring their own special kind of hell.  Those very activities and events that make the holiday special can be overwhelming for someone with PTSD!

 

When one is hyper-aware of the surroundings, large family gatherings can be over-stimulating.  There is too much noise, too much activity to keep track of at one time.  It’s difficult to keep track of what’s going on with so many people.  And taking the kids to a parade?   There are flashing lights, people coming at you from every direction; it leaves you with a felling that everything is out of control and danger is lurking everywhere.  No, the holidays can generate as much dread as joy for someone with PTSD.

 

As you celebrate this holiday season, remember those who paid for our freedom and our very right to celebrate the holiday.  There is something to be said for a quiet, peaceful season too.  Living with PTSD can take some finesse.  Remember that we can develop different traditions that are just as meaningful to us as the ones we used to practice.  The season can be one of peace and joy for all of us.

JUST ANOTHER DAY

The holidays can be a joyous, fun-filled time, or they can be depressing and sad.  While we always hope for the former, too often we get caught up in the commercialism of the event and forget that it’s actually just another day of the year.

I always loved the holidays, but I have a good friend who had a difficult time each year.  His memories of the traditions of the season weren’t good ones, and as the holiday approached, he felt more and more alone.  He said he was talking with an old friend one day and she told him to remember, it’s just another day.  You don’t have to celebrate the season.  You don’t have to kill yourself trying to relive those old traditions you’ve been part of for years and years.  That’s all in your head, not a requirement.  Instead of feeling bad because things aren’t what you would like them to be, simply think of it as another day.  Do the things you usually do and don’t worry about it being a holiday.  There is nothing that says you have to make it something spectacular.

After that, he stopped feeling bad that another year had gone by and he hadn’t found Ms. Wonderful yet, that he was still paying on the same bills and doing the same things he was a year ago.  Instead, he more realistically looked at the fact that he had successfully navigated another year, he remained independent, and he was basically content with who he was.

Don’t over-think the season.  Just flow with it and enjoy each day the best you can.  There are no rules about what you have to do.  Behind all the hype, it’s just another day.