Homefront Operations: 2016, The Year of TRICARE Reform

Susan Reynolds is a regular Military Spouse contributor and is the 2013 Pope AFB Spouse of the Year

Article Originally at the Fayetteville Observer on Susan’s column here

I started this article with a certain direction in my mind. I thought it would make more sense for me to direct my thoughts to Congress and Department of Defense. It was almost as if I was going to plead with them not to forget to include pediatric healthcare with the upcoming plan to overhaul TRICARE.

Yes, Congress has decided that 2016 is the year of TRICARE reform. So far, pediatric healthcare advocates have seen a small focus on children’s health care. The primary focus on TRICARE reform appears to take a broad spectrum, which focuses on overall health care. Our concern, rightfully so, is that pediatric care could be lost in overall reform.

What I’m doing as a TRICARE advocate is effective, but it’s not effective enough. If 2016 is truly the year of TRICARE reform, then children’s healthcare must be included; however, begging, pleading, and constantly reminding our elected officials to remember our children can’t just come from me or the members of the TRICARE for Kids Coalition.

We need our entire military community.

As I sit and write, I think about the meetings that I’ve had on Capitol Hill. I think about every promise that has been made to me. I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I’ve been told that military children are important.

I know they’re important. All children are. However, our military children are considered to be part of an at risk population because of everything the military puts a family through. Our children didn’t choose this life; we chose it for them.

They move, they lose friends, they lose parents, they fall behind in school, they are more at risk for abuse, and through it all they survive and thrive. Military children are warriors from the moment they are born.

However, they have been saddled with a healthcare system, that doesn’t understand their needs. And children really do have unique healthcare needs. I’m not referring to the special needs populations only. All children have unique healthcare needs, which is why the TRICARE for Kids Coalition focuses on all military children’s healthcare.

I’m reminded of an article that I read entitled “12 Military Community Members We Can’t Afford to Overlook”.

“Military families with members who fall under the Exceptional Military Family Program are our warrior-advocates when it comes to championing the cause of health care and education for military families, and in particular, military children. Like most superheroes, you never know they exist until you absolutely need them. We must be mindful that EFMP military families are at the tip of the spear when it comes to helping non-EFMP families get quality health care and educational support services for our entire community.”

Now, I know who this article is for. It’s for you, the military community because we need your help. The TRICARE for Kids Coalition cannot advocate alone. Not anymore. We really do need your help.

We need to know how you can’t get same day appointments when your child is sick. We need to know when you’ve been denied access to specialty care. We need to know wait times for care; we need to know everything.

We need you to call your elected officials. We need you to let your representatives know that our military children deserve quality and timely healthcare. We need you supporting us.

It’s exhausting sitting in the same meeting for four years, and I’m not sure how many more times I need to share my son’s story. Thank you members of Congress for being shocked at the lack of treatment and denial of care my son has faced. He’s not the only child that has endured that nonsense.

Military families shouldn’t face shortage of same day appointments or acute care appointments. And sitting in the Emergency Room for hours, shouldn’t be the only option available.

I get it, I really do get it. I know your child isn’t as sick as mine. I know that your child isn’t special needs. But we are all one accident, one fever, or one sickness away from needing warrior-advocates like the TRICARE for Kids Coalition.

Please, support us. Help us so we can help all children.

Congress is in session for only a little while longer. Call your representatives and let them know that as they reform military healthcare and TRICARE, to include our children. Children are such a vulnerable population, but they are also strong.

To call your district representatives please click here.

To call your senators please click here.

Let your elected officials know that our children and their healthcare matters.

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