by Jeremy Hilton
Next Wednesday, June 20, at 1430 (in Room 232-A Senate Russell Bldg), the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel will be holding a hearing on the issues impacting our military families affected by disabilities. I will be testifying along with four or five other witnesses. Here is the specific info on the hearing: http://
I suspect a large portion of the testimony and discussion will be referencing a potential Senator Gillibrand amendment regarding ABA and the recent OPM decision to include ABA as a medically necessary therapy for the dependents of federal workers. I intend to address that issue in my written testimony, along with other issues relevant to our community including special education, Tricare, Medicaid waivers, and the EFMP programs.
Sixty eight years ago, over 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France.
Their reasons were just. Their actions unified. A fight for the future commenced.
It was a decisive move from the sea and air, against heavily-entrenched Nazi troops. By nightfall of June 6, 1944, a foothold was established that would ultimately lead to victory in Europe.
Here’s to our nation’s heroes who answered the call. We honor their courage, their sacrifice and the valor they employed.
Known as part of America’s greatest generation, the U.S. service members from that day teach us lessons that can be directly applied to today’s military families dealing with autism.
If we believe in our cause, we must embrace the cause. There is no turning back now.
Victory is never certain without dedication. Your level of dedication can help or hurt your comrades.
All enemies are vulnerable. Allied together, we can win.
Many in our community have been fighting for our children’s futures, in terms of Applied Behavioral Analysis coverage by TRICARE after retirement.
Our families have a chance now to make a decisive move and, through dedication and action, to change the future.
The U.S. House of Representatives has included an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act to make ABA available to those who retire. The Senate version of the NDAA is still in the works, but currently has no provision for the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act. The Senate Armed Services Committee did not act so it falls to an amendment being introduced on the Senate floor.
If military families are going to once and for all eliminate the loss of access to ABA because of the ECHO issue, it’s time to establish a beachhead in the NDAA by having a matching Senate version of the bill that will make it through conference committee where the two versions are merged.
In terms of participation, more than 13,000 aircraft and over 5,000 ships had a part in the D-Day invasion. Approximately that many families (or about 23,000 family members) are impacted by current policy, losing their well-earned benefit for their family when the service member finishes his or her career. Imagine if all our families were synchronized in this fashion. The reality is, it starts with one, then two, and so on.
We need to employ our forces to make an impact. The answer is simply telling all our stories and making the Senate understand that the Senate version of NDAA needs support for our military families dealing with autism.
Contact your Senator’s office by visiting, calling, emailing, faxing and raising awareness. Visit CMKAA.org for details on contacting them.
There is only a few weeks to get a message on the need to support military families.
Think of how the greatest generation approached their battle. As Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “We will accept nothing less than full victory.”
Military families dealing with autism were given a sign of hope recently, as two members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill, H.R. 2288.
No this is not the Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Improvement Act; that H.R. 2288 was introduced in 2009. The 2011 version titled, “Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act,” pertains to our military families in attempting to amend Title 10 of the United States Code and provide for expanding Tricare coverage for special needs military children.
The bill was originally introduced by U.S. Reps. John Larson of Connecticut and Walter Jones of North Carolina on June 22. Since that time, Reps. Joe Courtney and Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, and Michael Doyle of Pennsylvania have also signed on a cosponsors.
After initially being referred to the House Committee on Armed Services, it was referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel on July 19.
Currently there is no additional information on the bill, when it will be reviewed or when we might expect to see a similar bill introduced in the Senate.
While the announcement is met with optimism, according to information on the website govtrac.us, this groundbreaking legislation should also be tempered with a bit of reality for the families needing such change. There is a long way to go for this bill to become a lifted-weight off the shoulders of our military families. Current events have not provided the environment we need to make this easy.
As military families are well-aware, the nation is in a time of constricting budget options. With 20-year military retirements being passed around as needing to be eliminated, and other monetary challenges affecting far more of the Defense Department’s family structures, it becomes increasingly difficult to try and ask for Congress to shoulder the burden of covering the costs associated with special needs military children to ensure they have the care and support they need to have the best options for improvement.
So what can be done in such dire straights? Simply speaking: service before self (do something to make a difference, however little), teamwork (share and advocate as a team), and keep a positive attitude.
One of our AMFAS Community Bloggers has been the instrument behind the effort to inform and create a movement to help get this bill more closely looked at. She created the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act site cmkaa.wordpress.com to help get the word out and remind people of the importance of this legislation. American Military Families Autism Support recommends promoting her site and working together to help create traction for this. With the new MilitaryAutism.org site nearing completion, AMFAS will in the future have a law and legislation section to help provide news and information on relevant topics affecting our families.
One website tracking comments of a legislative nature is POPVOX.com. Currently, there are 129 comments entered on the site, with 94 percent Supporting the measure. In mass terms, this number may seem insignificant, but each person who visits and comments is making a difference, much the same way as the one or two people who joined the AMFAS community at a time have made it what it is today.
Take a look at the listing of House Armed Services Committee members and see if one represents you. If they do, your contribution of sending a note of support can go a long way in having this bill move forward. If you know people represented by any of the members, you can ask them to send a note as well. These messages to congressional offices do not cost anything, but a small amount of personal time to volunteer and make a difference.
The realities of our nation’s budget situation make it crucial that We take a few minutes out of our day and comment, discuss, support and invite others to join our experience. This is how we make a difference and improve situations. For more on CMKAA, see the previous AMFAS article on this topic.