TRICARE wants to instill the belief that we should be happy with what we receive and that it is good enough, but I’m not so sure. Don’t write off the underdog just yet.
Rudy Ruettiger of Notre Dame, Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, and Colonel Sanders all have something in common. They are all famous people inked in our history books who have impacted our lives in some way, but they were also known for being the underdog. The odds were not in their favor to succeed. People say that Colonel Sanders was rejected 1,009 times before he got his first “yes” to the idea of starting a little franchise entitled Kentucky Fried Chicken. Just think, if he would have quit after the 1,008th rejection. We would have never experienced a warm buttery biscuit with creamy potatoes and fried chicken for lunch as we promised ourselves that we would have salad for dinner.
These stories go through my mind as I think about military families fighting for better services for their children on the spectrum. Are we the underdogs in this fight? I think we are. With every small step we gain crawling up the mountain of TRICARE policy debacles and bureaucracy, we slip two steps down. We continue to dig our fingers into the side and pray for a tight enough grip in the hopes of not having to lose too much ground. Our military families have experienced loss in care that is often due to politics and a sense of complacency for treating children who have serious behaviors that continuously debilitates their quality of life.
What makes it so complicated about changing policy with TRICARE is that there isn’t one point of contact that can make those changes. If you don’t like your lawn service, it’s advertised that if you call a certain number, you can speak to someone to voice your concerns. Many times I will drive behind a truck that will say, “How is my driving? Call this number if you see me driving like a maniac.” The numbers are out there and, generally, your opinion is that if you call that number, you will speak with a human that will work with you to fix the problem. With TRICARE, this isn’t the case and, in my opinion, they use this to their advantage to tamper with policies that affect our children.
With military families, it’s common to be notified of a policy change after it happens or they will be told, “This is happening. Brace yourselves for the change.” People not associated with the military may think, “Just make a stink. They’ll listen and change their ways.” Not so fast. Our military has created a culture where you take what you are given and you do your best to make it work. I’ve never gone to my husband and said, “This deployment isn’t working for me, I want you to tell your commander that you need to come home.” The same thing goes for PCS moves, pay, and yes, insurance. You always have options to buy extra insurance, but there is something deep down that hinders us from making that choice. Our family makes sacrifices daily for this entitlement so it should deliver.
We have military families who deserve an entitlement that should deliver all the time. We live in a culture that hinders questioning the big dog and at times this creates a recipe for disaster. In this case, the disaster affects the family, but don’t write us off just yet. There is an underdog out there and they happen to be military families. These families are looking for that number to call. They’ve realized that there isn’t an easy number to find, so they dig. They knock on doors, email leadership, write Congress, and start to research how complicated it is to reach those who make decisions.
One might think this would be all it takes, but it’s more difficult than you’d think. TRICARE stands their ground and tells leadership what they want to hear and that their policies are sound. Then we have a situation of he said-she said. Who will leadership believe? Will it be TRICARE, or the group of families scattered all over the nation who are tired and weary? TRICARE has access to military leadership, but our military families still hold on to the idea of putting their heads down and living with what they have been given.
The fight still continues and I’ll admit the big dog, TRICARE, has a lot in their favor. They have experience and determination to ensure these policies stay in affect. TRICARE also wants to instill the belief that we should be happy with what we receive and that it is good enough, but I’m not so sure. Don’t write off the underdog just yet. The fight isn’t over and I have a feeling the underdog has an investment that is far too valuable. The underdog is fighting for their children.