Tag Archives: SASC

Open Letter to Armed Services Committee Members on Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Armed Services Committee Offices.

My name is Rachel Kenyon. I am a proud and battle-tested Army wife and mom of two beautiful babes, one with autism.

Currently, TRICARE military healthcare provides less than half the recommended treatments for autism, and only to children of active duty service members.

Service members who retire after more than twenty years and Wounded Warriors forced to medically retire are stripped of what little treatment TRICARE allows via the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO).

On Thursday, May 17, 2012, Congressman John Larson took to the House floor armed with embarrassingly large photos of our little family and made the case for Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act to be included as an amendment to the FY2013 NDAA. It worked, because for Mr. Larson, this had become personal. It worked because Rep. Tom Rooney had the courage to walk up to Chairman Buck McKeon and tell him it was personal. Mr. Rooney has two nephews with autism. Mr. McKeon did the right thing, because now he understood, it was personal. The amendment passed as part of the NDAA in the House.

Senator Gillibrand attempted this past week to do the same in the Senate Armed Services Committee markup session. The amendment was rejected.

I contact you today because this fight is so very personal for so many of us serving our country each day. Not only do I want my husband to feel that his more than 25 years of service warrant the medical care our daughter with autism needs, but I want my daughter to have the security of being able to access the tools that can give her a richer, more meaningful life.

It’s personal because I now hold 23,000 other children in my heart, and more than that many parents who serve our country. I love them as I love my own. I want them to feel proud of their country’s service to them in return. I want them to sleep at night, knowing that though autism may have knocked on their door, they can live their lives to the fullest with the care they need and deserve. It’s personal.

I know once you read the petition comments from your constituents, both military and civilian, you all will choose to do the right thing. To take this fight personally. To share with your fellow staffers and your Senators and Representatives that our families are proud. That our children are worthy. That if just one military child was denied the cancer treatments he or she needed, we would not be wasting time with emails and petitions. A true American who hears that 23,000 military children are being denied the medical standard of care for autism takes that personally. Well, for real American patriots, it is so very personal.

I appreciate your time and I wish you all a fun, relaxing Memorial Weekend in remembrance of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Our little family will be spending another weekend living with autism in our house and struggling to understand why we have to fight this battle, too.

Best,

Mrs. Rachel E. Kenyon

Wife to Command Sergeant Major William W. Kenyon

Mother of two beautiful babes – one with autism.

http://www.change.org/petitions/congress-make-recommended-autism-treatment-available-to-all-military-children


SASC Staff Email

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Here are all the email addresses I have for SASC staffers,

plus HASC Chairman Buck McKeon.

Email away, folks!

Remember, be respectful, be positive, and share your story!
Cheers,
Rachel

Get Up On That Wagon

“Your lazy butts are in this too. So get up on that wagon. We’re goin’ up north to put the word to the streets.” ~ Curtis, “The Blues Brothers” (1980)

It might seem like a strange parallel to draw, but The Blues Brothers movie has some good messaging that is actually a bit relevant to our cause, my friends.

Whether or not you are a fan like me, the story of one man seeking redemption by doing good for others is a likeable storyline no matter who you are.  As humans, no matter how selfish we sometimes can be, we yearn to connect with others and make the world a better place in whatever moments of opportunity that present themselves.

Here’s our chance.

For me personally, I attest that I am no saint.  I make my share of mistakes and bad decisions.  But I love hard, and I want to do good by others.

So I share my story.  I share my family’s story.  I beat down doors, break down walls, and I talk.  I write.  I sometimes harass and harangue.  But my intentions are honest and I put myself out there and hope to be heard.  By some crazy twist of fate in this life, it seems to be working.

I think you can make it work, too.

I think your story is just as powerful.  I think what you have to say is just as important.

I think you can change lives in ways you never imagined.

There are a handful of public servants standing in positions to help us.  They are men and women just like you and me.  They bleed like you and me.  They love like you and me.  They stumble around this earth like you and me trying to find their way.  They need to KNOW you to want to help you.  If they do not know you, if they do not know what you need, they simply cannot help you.

So talk to them.  Call them.  Email them.  Send an open letter to them via their hometown newspaper.  Reach out to them so that they KNOW you.  So that they are moved by your story to want to help you.

I have no advanced degrees, there is nothing that makes me special.  I am unemployed and deeply in debt.  But I have been to The White House, I have spoken before Congress, and I have had meaningful conversations with Senators and Representatives on the state and federal stage.  Just sharing my story.  Sharing what is important to my family.

I can tell you that I know how we can win.  I heard it straight from a Senator’s mouth.  We need the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Members to know all of our stories.  We need them to be thinking about our families when their heads hit the pillows at night, and when they put their skivvies on each morning.  They need to be consumed with the injustice of our children not getting the medical treatments they need for autism.

So get up on the wagon and put the word to the streets.

No excuses.

[Ed note: You have so many tools at your disposal to share your stories.  You can sign and share the petition at Change.org – remember, every signature is sent to every Member of the SASC.  You can call their offices and email them, too.  You can reach out to local newspapers and TV stations, especially in Michigan and Arizona where SASC Chairman Levin and Ranking Member Senator McCain reside.  You can also post on the facebook pages of local media, too.  Friends, I have been doing all of this myself and I no longer can do it alone.  I still have laundry and vacuuming and ‘cooking’ to take care of each day.  Pushing the boulder up the hill is too much for me to manage alone.  But together, we can move an entire mountain!]


Behind Closed Doors

These are the Members of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.

These are the people who decide behind closed doors whether or not to accept an amendment similar to the one we passed last week in the House that will give our children the autism treatments we have been waiting for.

Behind closed doors.  When no one is watching.

These are the people standing between your child and my child getting the medical treatment for autism they need and deserve.

What will you do about it?

My suggestion is that you speak up and tell every single one of these legislators about YOU.  Tell them about YOUR family.  Because they are never going to change their minds unless you change it for them.

You are contacting them regarding “Senator Gillibrand’s amendment, a measure to make autism treatments available to all Department of Defense dependents whether active duty or retired, lifting the dollar cap on care.”

Be honest.  Be respectful.  Get it done.

Tell them WHY we need their support.  No one person can get us over the goal line.

It truly is YOUR turn.

What will you do behind closed doors to change the world?

Webb, Jim – (D – VA) (202) 224-4024
248 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Lieberman, Joseph I. – (ID – CT) (202) 224-4041
706 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Akaka, Daniel K. – (D – HI) (202) 224-6361
141 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
McCaskill, Claire – (D – MO) (202) 224-6154
506 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Hagan, Kay R. – (D – NC) (202) 224-6342
521 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510

Begich, Mark – (D – AK) (202) 224-3004
111 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Blumenthal, Richard – (D – CT) (202) 224-2823
702 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC) (202) 224-5972
290 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Chambliss, Saxby – (R – GA) (202) 224-3521
416 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Brown, Scott P. – (R – MA) (202) 224-4543
359 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Ayotte, Kelly – (R – NH) (202) 224-3324
144 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Collins, Susan M. – (R – ME) (202) 224-2523
413 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
Vitter, David – (R – LA) (202) 224-4623
516 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510

[Ed note: you can still use the petition at Change.org to send your message to EVERY Member of the Full Senate Armed Services Committee with just one signature HERE.]


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