Sometimes all it takes is one voice. If you see something good, speak up. If you have a poor experience, speak up as well. It’s a well known fact that I’m not afraid to speak up, especially when it comes to our military families. I’ve done it before, and I’ll keep doing it as long as we’re an actively serving family.
This instance is for our Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) families. You see, our particular post has been without an EFMP manager since June. There has been no communication, and we are going through some program changes. Everyone is quite lost and confused. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve had people who I felt were rude to me (and it takes a lot to offend me), and people are coming to me for points of contact and asking me where to go for help. I’m flattered people seem to think I have the answers, but I know as much as they do – nothing.
After stewing for quite a while over an incident I had here on post, there were committees that were meeting in DC in September. They wanted to know what our families needed. Of course I relayed that we needed better care for our EFMP families. We’re getting lost in the shuffle, and the focus is on the children. There’s not really any services for EFMP adults, nor is there a lot of support for a family with both EFMP children and a EFMP spouse. Respite hours end up getting used for the EFMP adult’s doctor appointments, and that’s not really respite. There is a respite discconnect.
I even filed and ICE complaint on our installation. I’ve been met with leadership wanting to do what they can, but right now, everyone is over worked, under paid, and under staffed.
Of course the military cries budget cuts and money problems even as they divert money from Tricare to other programs all the while saying that we are the ones putting the burden on the health care system. We families are left to fight the exhorbitant fee hikes that we can’t afford because so many are barely making ends meet as it is. Throw in a special needs family member or two, and your budget just got a lot tighter covering gas to and from therapies, special dietary needs, etc. that are not covered by anyone else but your bank account.
All of this is occurring while the GAO says the DoD needs to do more for our special needs families. The DoD says the EFMP program is important. Is it just more of the same rhetoric we’ve been getting for the last decade? Only time and your voices will tell. If you need help, you need to speak up, and not file anonymous ICE complaints. Put your name on them. Get answers. Get the help you need.