While November is National Veterans and Military Families Months and while a lot of vets and their families will be enjoying free meals and social media posts declaring solidarity with current and former armed service members. However, at this time, many families within the military community are experiencing undue hardships at this time. This is the purpose of an editorial published in Military.com about the struggles that military families are currently dealing with. Changes to the healthcare system for military families have thrown areas of coverage into doubt. Access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention is imperative for many veterans and their family members. Housing for Marines in Camp Lejeune for military members have suffered catastrophic damage, leaving families living in uninhabitable conditions.
The most sweeping change to military families is the new shifts in the infrastructure to the military’s system of healthcare, Tricare. Currently, Tricare is holding open enrollment until December 10th where families can examine and choose between two plans, Tricare Select and Tricare Prime. After enrollment is closed, whatever plans families have will be locked into place and only a “qualifying life event” such as the birth of a baby will allow a change in plans. This could lead to confusion in coverage at a time when healthcare coverage has become a prime concern nationally.
In conjunction with healthcare is quality mental health treatment. The stresses of military life can be overwhelming for both service members and their loved ones. The military has put programs in place to offset this. Their effort includes family life counselors that can help process stress factors in life as well as Family Readiness Groups (FRG) and Morale, Welfare, & Recreation (MWR) programs that build community and coping mechanisms. Nonetheless, suicide in the military remains a firm problem and, despite the National Defense Authorization Act mandating the tracking of family suicides in the military, actual data on the subject has yet to be published. This makes building effective prevention measures difficult.
Perhaps most alarmingly, Marines stationed in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune are under the thumb of a severe housing crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Following the storm, houses have been shown to be unsafe with water-damaged floors and broken ceilings. Mold and power outages abound within the on-base housing and the response to fix it by the manager of the privatized housing has been slow. Such issues with private housing on posts have been a military-wide problem as standard tenet protections often do not apply. These kinds of problems, the Military.com op-ed asserts, need to be rectified if the military is expected to give it all for their country.
Originally published at michaelgsheppard.net on October 25, 2018.