Hi, my name is Susan Reynolds and this is my friend Elena Roberts; together we are Bad Mother Advocate: Fighting for your Family. This is the first edition of our new series on advocacy and we just want to introduce you to what we’re all about – showing you that everyone is an advocate.
Our goal is work with military families to teach advocacy, build partnerships and relationships with military families and local communities, and assist families with Exceptional Family Members and TRICARE questions. We have a singular purpose in mind – helping families.
First, a little background on Susan and Elena is needed.
Susan Reynolds is a mom who got frustrated when her son was denied medical treatment that was vital to his growth and development. Instead of getting angry, she promised to make a change to TRICARE policy. It has been a long process, but one that is worthwhile. During Susan’s three year journey updating TRICARE policy, she has found other families in similar situations. Susan became a TRICARE advocate and has never looked back.
Elena Roberts is a mom too. Elena is not as advanced as Susan and became incredibly angry and frustrated trying to work with her son’s school after her oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and a learning disability. But a funny thing happened. In the course of working with the school, Elena’s anger and frustration sparked her passion to practice special education law and teaching parents how to help their own children. After practicing Special Education law for four years, Elena met Susan and the world may never be the same again.
How do we help families? Keep on reading and we’ll tell you!
What is advocacy? At its core, advocacy is asking questions and finding solutions to make change. We believe that everyone is an advocate; they just don’t know it yet.
How is everyone an advocate?
Believe it or not you have probably advocated and didn’t know it. Have you ever asked your doctor about alternative treatment choices? How about asking your child’s school what can be done differently to educate your child? When you ask questions, you are advocating.
Often, when people think of advocates or advocating, they generate an image of professionals such as lawyers, lobbyists, or non-profits organizations. People believe that advocacy must involve important issues such as water table poisoning, cancer research, or jobs. Advocacy is thought to involve a large group of people.
Advocacy can and is oftentimes the opposite. Advocacy does not have to be big, on the national stage, or involve a lot of people. So many of us advocate without even knowing it, which is why we believe that everyone is an advocate. Everyone is an advocate.
If we’re all advocates, why does nothing seem to change?
Advocacy takes time. Susan has been advocating for pediatric TRICARE reform for three years. Each day is a step closer. Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint so you must be patient. And don’t forget this, advocating effectively will create change. We’re here to teach you how to advocate effectively.
Through this column, we will share the lessons we’ve learned through our experiences so you can become an effective advocates. We will share not just our successes, but our setbacks. It’s through setbacks or missteps that the greatest lessons can be learned.
Check back for our next column and our first lesson, “Effective advocacy is often a question of method rather than merit.”
For more content like this, check out Adoption 101: The Basics for Military Families
The information in this article are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing written or referenced here is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
Susan Reynolds (@motheradvocate) is an AF spouse currently living in Fort Bragg, NC. She was the 2013 Pope Army Airfield Spouse of the Year and the 2014 Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year. Susan loves to read, would never leave college because it’s fun, carries two copies of the US Constitution, and sings frequently (despite her horrid voice). Susan’s greatest passion is advocating for pediatric healthcare reform for military children. Susan has also been called a Master Hugger; since hugs are the most fun!
Elena Roberts is an attorney, AF veteran, and AF spouse currently living near Fort Bragg NC. Elena would go to school forever if she could figure out a way to make it a paying career. Elena loves penguins, office supplies, and words. Elena hopes by teaching parents how to navigate the special education system we will improve education for all children.