Deployed Troops at Risk of Accidents Back Home

 A U.S. military cargo truck bypasses a charred vehicle destroyed by a roadside bomb while moving building materials to Forward Operating Base Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Nov. 24, 2009. Credit U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elisebet Freeburg


A U.S. military cargo truck bypasses a charred vehicle destroyed by a roadside bomb while moving building materials to Forward Operating Base Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Nov. 24, 2009.
Credit U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elisebet Freeburg

Evasive driving maneuvers like speeding and sudden lane changes are a must for troops driving in dangerous environments where there may be roadside bombs, like Afghanistan.

But the driving habits that can save a soldier’s life when deployed can cause an accident and maybe death when the soldier returns home.

A 2012 study, by the insurance company USAA, showed that deployed military members have a 13 percent higher risk of being in an accident after returning stateside.

There are other risk factors for at-fault accidents according to the USAA Returning Warriors Driving Safety Report 2012:

  • Army Veterans accidents increased 23 percent; Marines 12.5 percent; Navy 3 percent and Air Force 2 percent.
  • Drivers younger than 22 are more at risk (a 25 percent increase) while those over 29 have a 7.5 percent increase
  • Drivers with 3 or more deployments are most at risk with a 36 percent increase in at-fault accidents; 2 deployments saw 27 percent increased; 1 deployment had a 12 percent increase.

The insurance company that only serves military and their families created an online survey for members returning from deployment. It has a dual purpose, to gather additional data about risk factors and to alert combat veterans of the driving dangers and offer safety tips such as:

  • Don’t start out driving at night or in heavy traffic
  • Plan out your route ahead of time
  • Avoid things that might cause you concern like narrow roads

The online assessment asks simple questions and is short according to John Bird, a retired Navy admiral and senior vice president for military affairs at USAA. He quelled any concerns that the data would be used against the driver.

“I will tell you our whole company business is built on trust. We absolutely are not using this data to raise rates or to affect policies for those military members,” Bird said. “In sharp contrast, we’re using this data as we do so much data across all insurance areas to go toward prevention.”

Additionally, USAA is offering a $25 incentive to a spouse or military member within six months of returning from deployment.

Bird said the company estimates that about 5,000 of its members return monthly.

EDITORS NOTE: The original version of this  story has been changed. There is no accurate estimate on the number of USAA members who have participated in the survey.

 

Advertisements

7 Mother’s Day Tips from a Military Mom

Dorie Griggs with her son and daughter during Family Day at Ft. Stewart. Photo by Stanley Leary.

Dorie Griggs with her son and daughter during Family Day at Ft. Stewart. Photo by Stanley Leary.

I am the mom of a member of the U.S. Army. My son is deployed right now. Which means I experience a wide array of emotions any given day, sometimes within the span of a few minutes.

Mother’s Day is approaching quickly. Holidays have a way of bringing up the emotions we can hide the rest of the year. Having a child deployed this year I anticipate a few down moments as I approach that day.

I’d like to offer a few suggestions to readers who would like to show support for a military mom this Mother’s Day.

4 Ways to Help a Military Mom

Offer to send a care package to the deployed soldier. Knowing my son receives packages from a variety of friends makes me smile.

If you don’t have the time or money to send a package, offer to contribute to the postage costs, or supplies. Military families spend a lot on postage during the deployment.

Do let the mom of a deployed soldier know you appreciate their service.

Treat the mom of a deployed soldier to a lunch or dinner out, just to chat. Enjoying positive company is a great stress reliever.

3 Things to Avoid with a Military Mom

I love surprises, but not while my son is deployed. If you would like to visit the mom of a deployed soldier call first to let her know you are coming over. An unexpected knock on the door can bring visions of uniformed officers coming to let you know your soldier has been killed. Please don’t put the family of a deployed soldier through that scenario.

Having a deployed son or daughter is stressful. We get through it one day at a time. Making statements like, “I don’t know how you do it.” Is not helpful. We don’t know how we do it either.

Avoid overtly political discussions, unless the parent starts the conversation. Whether you agree or disagree with what is going on does not change the fact that my son is deployed and I worry.

I hope to spend this Mother’s Day with my husband and two children who are still home. Hearing from my deployed son would be a huge bonus.

Text Messages from Afghanistan Melt an Army Mom’s Heart

What first caught my eye was her headline: Toilet Paper, Underwear, Technology, and an Army Mom.

It was the work of Dorie Griggs – a long-time contributor to Off the Base, a proud Army Mom, former Citadel Mom and now writer of her own blog: Dorie Griggs. I miss her contributions, so on occasion with her permission, I will cross post a story like this heart-felt entry.

Dorie Griggs

Dorie Griggs

BY DORIE GRIGGS

This afternoon I went to our local barbecue restaurant for lunch. Not usually anything to write about. Today was special though. Right before I went into the restaurant I checked my messages. There was a quick message from my deployed son letting me know he received a couple of boxes I had sent two weeks before. The boxes included food and some boxer briefs in various sizes for his platoon members. Most of my boxes take over 3 weeks to reach him so I was surprised that they arrived so quickly.

He let me know the guys appreciated the boxers. Usually that would be the end of our correspondence. He tends to write a short note and that is it. In my reply I told him that I continue to cover their a$$es whether it is toilet paper or underwear.

Apparently my wit won him over. After going in to order my lunch, I checked the messages and found another one. Our conversation continued for a few more volleys. Nothing earth shattering. His birthday is coming up and I asked what he’d like. He never asks for anything so I am left to guess at what may be appreciated.

The conversation was short. Sitting there in the middle of Slope’s BBQ in Roswell, Georgia it struck me. I am using my Droid HD to have a conversation with my son in Afghanistan, something I would have thought inconceivable just a few years ago. A rather surreal feeling.

One of the ladies who works there asked me if I was alright. I know she was asking about my tray and wondering if I needed anything else, but for some reason her question got to me. Sitting there thinking of my son and his birthday in a few weeks, and knowing he is in a difficult place I realized, no, I am not OK. I miss my son and I worry. I told her I was corresponding with my deployed son. The tears began to well up. I tried to clear my table and go outside before I made a spectacle of myself.

The plan almost worked until the nice lady asked me for my son’s name so she could pray for him. That did it. The tears filled my eyes. She gave me a big hug right there in the middle of the restaurant. I drove home with my heart in my throat.

Some days I am pretty good at pretending that I am not worried. Today is not one of those days.

Wishes for a White (Toilet Paper) Christmas from Afghanistan

Dorie Griggs

Dorie Griggs

The following post is written by long-time contributor Dorie Griggs who started writing for Off the Base while her son was still a cadet at the Citadel. She’s a new Army mom and he’s now deployed.

By Dorie Griggs

Never again will I look at toilet paper the same way.

My son sent me a private message on Saturday morning. I had missed his Skype call the day before. He doesn’t contact me often so I wasn’t sure what was up. It turns out the toilet paper I ordered through Amazon.com arrived. I sent 96 rolls, enough for each member of his platoon to have a package. He told me the guys were treating it like gold. They received a number of boxes this past week, but the toilet paper was, “the hit of everything.”

I told my son to let his guys know I’ve got their a$$es covered. I am pretty sure he rolled his eyes when read my comment.

Memorial Day: An Army Mom’s Reflection

Army Mom Tracie Ciambotti and her son, Josh.

I awoke this morning thinking about how different this Memorial Day is from 2011’s.  I recall—all too well—the dread that plagued me this holiday weekend last year as my son was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in early June.  Those last couple weeks prior to his departures are always difficult with the constant anticipation of having to say good-bye looming.

This year I am so thankful to have him home on American soil and relieved that my daily battle with the worry and fear that accompany his deployments has ended too.

Many of our nation’s sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers have come home from war over the past year.  Sadly, some will forever be remembered as fallen heroes; others are now wounded warriors fighting to recover from severe injuries or missing limbs; many are struggling silently to reintegrate into non-war life and regain some sense of normalcy—if there is such a thing.

Thousands of service members are currently deployed in war zones; others have just begun their tours of duty; some are now preparing for an upcoming deployment.

I doubt we will we ever know the full impact of war on our military families. Continue reading

Military Families: In Their Words

Combat boots and a little girl's "Daddy Comes Home" shoes.

This marks the 600th entry to my blog Off the Base. The best way to note that milestone is to turn it over to some thoughts from military family members. The families – the grandparents, mothers, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, children – and veterans are the reason I created the blog. I wanted a place that gave them a voice and that could help civilians better understand the stresses and successes military families and veterans experience.

He’s My Brother – from Get Out of the Cube

“My little brother is a little less than half way through his first deployment to Afghanistan with his National Guard unit. He and I have always been really close. He’s 8 years younger than me (he’s 31), and he was always my side-kick.

“For me personally right now, I would say the strongest feelings I have are 1) constant worry, 2) frustration that I can’t do anything to protect him, and 3) guilt.

“The guilt thing is strange. It’s like I don’t want to enjoy things, since it seems so unfair and selfish for me to be relaxing or laughing it up, when at the same moment he could be fighting for his life. Being optimistic is a challenge, especially given the sentiment there from recent events combined with what my brother’s role is. It’s no walk in the park. I can’t imagine how he feels. Putting on a positive public face is a daily challenge.”

Continue reading

Deployment: What 2012 Will Bring to a Military Wife, Family

Jackie and Brian marked the end of 2011 with a surprise reunion with his family prior to his expected fifth deployment in 2012.

I surprised my husband right after Christmas with an impromptu trip to New Jersey to see his family.  He was so excited, this trip was special to him, we were saying goodbye to 2011 and looking forward to 2012.

Unfortunately, 2012 holds deployments in our future, for both Brian and his twin.  Richie was flying home, to New Jersey, and Brian was excited to surprise him.

We started the almost 18 hour drive at 6 pm the day after Christmas, and were able to surprise Brian’s dad at his work close to lunch time on the 27th.  It was heart warming to see both girls run to their Grandfather, excitedly and jump into his arms.  I thought for a moment Big Rich would cry.  What an exciting thought it must have been for him, to have his entire family in one home before both of his children were to deploy.

Less than a year ago (March 2011), Brian was welcomed home from his fourth deployment by Jackie and his daughters

We surprised Brian’s brother at the airport, it was equally exciting as his pregnant wife was traveling with him, and our youngest daughter was meeting her for the first time.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I usually have my camera attached to my hand.  I was so disappointed when I realized I left my camera at home in all the excitement.  I remembered that my dear friend Alaina, an amazing photographer, had gone home for the holidays.  We were able to get pictures of all of us together, and start 2012 off with great memories for all the Dorr’s.

But what does 2012 have in store for us? Deployment, yes again, yes it does seem like he just came home doesn’t it? Brian has also decided to re-enlist, he has been in for 9 years, so he is still able to re-enlist without it being indefinite.  We are hoping we can re-enlist for our choice of duty station, fingers crossed.

I am so excited to start a new year, watch my children grow, welcome a new niece into the world, send my husband off and welcome him home from foreign lands.  What does 2012 have in store for you?

%d bloggers like this: