My name is Rachel Kenyon. I live in Connecticut and I am a proud army wife… blah blah blah.
I am pissed.
Jess at Diary of a Mom summed it up pretty well, “The hoofbeats ain’t comin’ my friends, we ARE the cavalry.”
Yesterday, I devoted an entire Saturday to working on the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (CMKAA) – H.R. 2288. I worked on the site I had created back in June when the bill was introduced to try to streamline the process for lending support.
I can’t make it any easier to do. A caveman’s dog could do it. I give all of the information necessary to understand why this bill is critical to the estimated 30,000 military kids living with autism and their soldiers who serve. I wrote a sample letter for folks to cut and paste, and with one click every citizen in this country has a direct link to contact their Member of Congress even if they have no earthly idea who that is.
What more could you ask?
I read other military parent blogs, I scan the dozens of overlapping military social networks. I hear a lot of complaining by our families about how hard it is and a lot of shock when civilians hear what we are facing in the shadows of an autism diagnosis. I also know that not nearly enough of the ‘outraged citizens’ of our country – military or civilian – are outraged enough to take action.
So let me break it down once again.
1 in 88 military kids with autism. Less than 10% get the treatments they need.
Deployments and moving every couple of years all suck. Our military families embrace the suckage as best we can because that is what we signed up for. But as Household Six writes, “I wouldn’t tell the woman with breast cancer, ‘Well, you knew what would happen having breasts and all.’” Seriously. No one joined up counting on autism and a complete lack of appropriate services while serving their country. I often share the comparison that my daughter had open-heart surgery at four-months-old to the out-of-pocket-tune of eight bucks for hospital parking, but autism will bankrupt you, screw with your marriage, scar the typical siblings for life and leave you wanting a very stiff drink with breakfast.
TRICARE can kiss my ass. The DoD can kiss my ass. Apathy can kiss my mo’fo’ ass. None of this has to be so damned difficult. Countless studies, reports and prior attempts at legislative fixes make it clear – our kids with autism need intensive treatment and military life creates real barriers to care. No soldier should have to serve for more than 20 years and not be able to retire because of a child’s disability. No military family should be moved across the country or across the globe on orders to do so and lose all services for their child with autism.
Why are we not seeing this change?
Because not nearly enough – not nearly enough – of the families affected by these circumstances are standing up and speaking up. Not nearly enough – not nearly enough – friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers and neighbors are taking three minutes out of their lives to say something about the mistreatment of our military families and their children with autism. And like spoiled children, Congress accomplishes little because We The People are not holding them accountable. We simply cannot accept that.
There are a handful of amazing military parents of children with autism fighting every day, sacrificing themselves for the good of all. They are the real heroes. I am talking about moms and dads that make me look like a wet-behind-the-ears-Private with underwear on my head and a kevlar vest around my ankles. But like me, these military parents aren’t waiting to hear the hoofbeats of a cavalry that isn’t coming. We have figured that part out. But none of us can do this without the voices of those we are trying so desperately to help.
Speak up. Tell Congress that our military’s service to our country is worthy of care for all military children.
There is no excuse that this is too hard, or takes too much effort. If you have time to take a dump in the bathroom alone for more than three minutes, consider yourself blessed with a luxury that many parents of autism do not share. So pay it forward and take three minutes to save a child with autism.
Merry Christmas, I did the work for you:
One-click support of CMKAA is —> HERE.
[Ed note: On April 28, 2012, a petition was organized at Change.org to move Congress to take action on HR2288. PLEASE sign and share and share again. Thank you!]