These issues aren’t sexy. They aren’t discussed in most places devoted to solving our problems. But these are the things we need a HERO to solve.
Please believe us.
Solve these 5 things and military families will line up to thank you.
Show up at a new duty station and you are faced with reams of paper to apply for a space at the Child Development Center. We’re not talking moving from an Army post to an Air Force base or from a Navy base to a civilian provider. No, we are even talking from one branch’s post to the same branch’s post. Each duty station, a new set of paperwork; often the same that was filled out at the last duty station.
And, after gathering up the necessary documents and papers, you are put in a queue to wait for a space that probably doesn’t exist. Each duty station, you wait and wait for a slot while being told “here is a great job just for you, military spouse.” Too bad you can’t apply. Sometimes we feel the need to spell it out: I’m waiting for childcare to even apply because the military is pretty inflexible when it comes to the service members job so I can’t rely on “back-up” from my spouse even for the interview.
No child care. No job.
No way to work out for stress relief because there is no drop-off care at the gym they say you should use. No way for a chance to “regroup” when a spouse is deployed or to go to the meetings where kids are not welcome. Child care is not just a “nice to have” in military life it is a “doesn’t anyone see making access to childcare easier or possible is the root of many of our bigger issues?”
2. Resource overload
How many times have we heard it? “We HAVE a website for that!” or “Don’t reinvent the wheel! We already do that!” So the question is: why the heck does NO ONE know what we already have or that we do “that” already. As one Army spouse said, the problem lies in poor modernization and assimilation of information dissemination to the military spouse community.
Truth is, these websites you speak of, we don’t know they exist. And often we are frustrated by their poor design, broken links, and portals to no where. You may have a website for that but no one is using it. The question you should be asking is “why” no one is using these sites versus pointing us back to it or making more resources. We’re not using your resources because there are TOO hard to use and they often don’t work.
You may have a process you want us to follow but Wayne is standing in the way of it being completed. Wayne is the guy (or gal) who just throws the whole process out the window, creates a new process or adds crazy things to the existing process, who gets mad at you because you aren’t familiar with all of intricacies of said process, and then tells you, no, the phone numbers on the website that you called to double check you had the right paperwork don’t work but you should have called to make sure you had the right paperwork.
It seems the number of Waynes grow by the day.
So when you tell us “there’s a process you need to follow,” you never seem to account for Wayne. Don’t always assume it is us messing up; instead, evaluate what obstacles are in our way to getting the job done.
4. Doing what’s good for the community vs. what’s good for military families
Sometimes we need someone to stand up for us and just say “we’re doing this because it is good for them” and point to military families instead of the local community. We get it. There is a fine line to walk. You need them to support us and we have to support them to make it happen. But way too often it seems the decisions that are being made are made without thinking of first of how it impacts military families and too much weight is given to how a decision impacts the local community.
We need the hero to stand up and say, “Hey, military kids can be on your local sports teams.”
We need a hero to say, “No, we won’t build housing in the middle of nowhere because your constituency wants to make money off of our military families.”
We need a hero to say, “Yes, you need to create a smoother transition for our military kids when they move to your school. And, no, it is not preferential treatment; it’s common decency.”
5. Destroy the mini-states
Each installation operates as a mini-state. The rules vary from installation to installation leaving military families flexing to operate under new processes, rules, and paperwork. Why there isn’t consistency across at least the installations in one branch seems like a question that shouldn’t even need to be asked.
It is a cost saving measure.
A sanity saving idea.
A way to make transitions smoother.
Paperwork should be the same across the branch no matter where you live for childcare services, medical services, housing processes, on-post schools, and more. If you want to have an even more radical idea: let’s walk into the year 2018. Let’s go digital so we when we arrive at a new duty station, Wayne can just open up your “paperwork” from the last one and update your address.
Unfortunately, the unsexy problems don’t get as much press time, but eliminating these massive headaches for our military families could help eliminate the palm to head moments that plague our community every single day. Eliminate the stressors and you open up a world of opportunity for our families.