Guest article by: Susan Reynolds, Military Spouse
Photo credit: Morgan Slade, Military Spouse
I really don’t like moments of self-doubt. I don’t like wondering if the last couple of years of sacrifice, hard work, time away from my family, the tears, stress, loss of friendships… have been worth it. Lately, my confidence has been shaken and I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.
I started a journey when my son was denied healthcare vital to his growth and development. I promised to change TRICARE policy for him and for all military children. I vowed to my ten month old child that I wouldn’t stop, and I haven’t.
Two years ago, TRICARE for Kids or TFK was passed by the House of Representatives and by January 2013 the TFK provision was part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. A workgroup consisting of military and civilian organizations formed and started working for our children. It’s impressive to see the military and civilian community come together.
The TRICARE for Kids workgroup have kept their end of the bargain. Since its inception, the workgroup has conducted studies that address access to care issues, as well as coverage gaps within pediatric TRICARE. Just this month, the TFK workgroup met with MCRMC or Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission which is tasked with finding ways to modernize our military benefits program.
We, the military, are forced to use a system that establishes their own policies that counter the best practices of medical experts. This system, TRICARE, has limited medical treatments for our special needs children, discontinued coverage of compounded medications, and has cut genetic testing. The worst part is that these policy changes occur with little notification.
These policy changes are just the beginning if Department of Defense Comptroller, Robert Hale has his way. Just the other day he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, that the proposed personnel budget cuts are necessary. These cuts include TRICARE.
Now, do you understand why my confidence is shaken? It’s hard to stay positive about TRICARE for Kids, when military families are fighting to keep their housing and paychecks. It’s hard to demand better medical treatment for children; for all military families in this time of crisis.
I am aware that these are tough budget times and cuts must occur, but healthcare cuts? Denying medical care is wrong, just that simple. Denying medical care is wrong, especially when Medicaid/Medicare provide coverage of everything TRICARE has cut thus far.
Knowing that our DoD leadership isn’t concerned with finding other ways to save money is just as disheartening. Cut people, but not acquisitions? I don’t get that.
So yes, my confidence has been shaken, but recently military families were given a dose of hope. The Military Coalition stood up for military families at the same SASC hearing today. They presented information, statistics, and stories from military families. Our voices were heard by our elected officials.
What’s next for TRICARE and TRICARE for Kids? A fight; a big fight is up next. It’s going to be messy, and I can’t wait. My confidence might be shaky some days and that’s okay. I think I needed my confidence knocked around a little to remind me not to give up.
I am assured that our genetic testing will be covered again, that our specials needs children will receive the medical care they need, and that compounded medications will be considered. I am assured that a hearing will occur, and that once again military families will have their voices heard.
I will reach out to my friends and ask for them to give me strength when I am weak, and they will.
“We are lucky to have you advocating for us. We, (the whole community) NEED YOU.” Thank you Babette for your words of strength and courage. I read them often.
The months ahead will be long and tough. The military community will need to rely on each other for strength in moments of weakness. We will need our friends and family more than ever. We can do this, despite having our confidence take hits.
What can you do? Call these people on the House Armed Services Committee: https://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/home
Or call the Senate Armed Services Committee: https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/
Cuts to our benefits, cuts to TRICARE, cuts to our children’s healthcare is unacceptable and wrong.