Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
November 19, 2013, I witnessed something unbelievable. I watched a small conference room on Capitol Hill fill beyond maximum capacity. Approximately 75 Congressional staffers attended the Basic Training on TRICARE for Kids to learn all about TRICARE and our military children.
In 2012, Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) and Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53) co-sponsored a bill called “TRICARE for Kids”. Congress passed the bill and in January 2013 the TRICARE for Kids provision became part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
For months a working group comprised of military family support agencies and pediatric healthcare organizations conducted research, held meetings with TRICARE, and made recommendations on best practices for our military children in regards to their healthcare. The phrase “one size does not fit all” is used frequently: our children are part of a healthcare system that was created for adult care – not pediatric.
Military families have worked diligently to make their voices heard by their elected officials, and on Tuesday November 19, they listened.
A panel of experts and parents spoke with passion, intelligence, and experience. Kathy Beasley from Military Officers of America Association (MOAA) educated the attendees about TRICARE, the different plans and regions.
Dr. Kelly Komatz, from Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, FL passionately explained why timely, effective specialty care is vital for our military children.
However, it was Melissa House, former Marine and mother to two special needs children who touched our hearts. Melissa explained in great detail the difficulties that military families endure with constant PCS moves, and starting over with new doctors, clinics, and hospitals. She shared the potential impacts on our children and families – situations no one could have imagined. Melissa explained our fears and concerns to a packed room, and she made us proud.
The Basic Training on TRICARE for Kids meeting was a huge success. The military community came together in support. Military families were heard, and congressional staffers paid attention.
I encourage all military families to continue sharing your stories and experiences. Meetings such as this one will be occurring in areas throughout the country, so keep your eye out for the closest one near you. Please visit TricareForKids on Facebook for additional information.
To our MSNN families, thank you for all that you have done to advocate for your children. And to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Speaks, Children’s Hospital Association, Easter Seals, Family Voices, Military Officers Association of America, and National Military Family Association, we send our sincerest gratitude for co-sponsoring the TRICARE for Kids Briefing. Thank you for all that you do for military families.
Susan Reynolds is an Air Force spouse, mother to Ian, and an adult with special needs. She is a passionate advocate for military families and pediatric healthcare. Currently residing in Fayetteville, NC, Susan actively volunteers in her local and state communities and frequently travels to Washington DC to meet with elected officials to discuss military family issues. You can contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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