1 in 88.
1 in 88 active duty military children in the United States live with autism.
When you factor in the dependent children of Reservists and Retirees, that number explodes to 1 in 67.
1 in 67.
I am working to advocate for better access for ALL military families who have a dependent diagnosed with autism, by changing TRICARE‘s current policy to include autism therapies as MEDICALLY NECESSARY treatments covered under the umbrella of standard care.
Currently, TRICARE requires enrollment in a separate special needs program called the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO), which is secondary to enrollment in the military’s Exceptional Family Members Program (EFMP). Also, current policy classifies these necessary treatments as “educational” rather than medical. Reservist and Retiree dependents are NOT currently included.
As a military family, we are affected by the overall continuum of care that is lacking in so many areas. Generally speaking, the three main components to autism care are Insurance, Medicaid and the Education system the military family relies on. Frequent changes of duty station, cycling deployments and disruption in family life are all overwhelming hindrances to the access to appropriate therapies. As autism is such a complex spectrum of varied needs and strengths, it also requires the availability of all of these resources to produce effective and individual plans of care.
Regardless of the access to TRICARE therapies, there remains for ALL families – including military - the issues facing appropriate educational support. Many families who DO have access to TRICARE autism therapies are still finding themselves paying out thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees as well to fight for school services.
This is our story, as it is the story of many other military families with a child on the spectrum.
What can be done?
I have seen the proverbial light bulb popping on over a Congressman’s head. The immediate look on their face of shock and awe – not of an IED blast - but the struggle and suffering of soldiers and their families that are already giving so much in support of our great nation.
If you are a military family and you are looking for help accessing TRICARE Autism benefits, contact your legislators and TALK TO THEM.
TELL THEM YOUR STORY.
So often, it just doesn’t cross their desks or appear magically in their busy schedules. Instead, it goes unnoticed and without the legislative support we need to affect real change for our military families living with autism.
We can do this.
It takes a phone call, a letter - and sometimes several – but do it. You will not only share your story, but you will help your child and your fellow military families in ways you cannot imagine.
Thank you to ALL military members and families for your service.
God Bless America.
Mrs. Sergeant Major