By Lorren Patton
A key advisory council made up of senior military leaders, military spouses, and representatives of various military organizations has identified the proposed cuts to military medicine as its top priority focus area for fiscal year 2020.
The congressionally mandated Military Family Readiness Council (MFRC) will make recommendations to the secretary of defense and defense-related congressional committees on how the planned 20% reduction in military medical positions will affect dependent health care, and what those changes could do to military readiness.
MOAA has been at the forefront on this issue, educating its members and lawmakers on what the proposed cuts could mean to servicemembers past and present, and their families, as well as the strength of the military medical infrastructure.
The cuts were one of two 2020 areas of focus for the MFRC, which also will be looking into more opportunities for community collaboratives and partnerships.
The council also outlined recommendations that will be part of its FY 2019 report to the secretary of defense and to congressional defense committees, including:
- Child care accessibility. The council made this its first priority and recommended adequate funding to meet the child care demand, timely background checks of staff, and reworking the Family Child Care Program to help ease child care needs.
- Military spouse occupational licensure. The Council voted to recommend that DoD continue to improve licensure portability, allow for Tuition Assistance programs to be used by both servicemembers and spouses to pursue professional and technical licenses and certifications, and to promote the use of the Spouse Licensure Reimbursement.
- Military housing. In the midst of the military privatized housing crisis, the Council recommended DoD establish a working group to monitor and make recommendations based on resident satisfaction surveys, and that DoD review the current public health concerns surrounding military housing and what action is being taken to address those concerns. This issue was tied with spouse licensure in the second spot on the council’s recommendation list.
- Medical records. The council suggested an evaluation of the services’ policies and processes regarding a military dependent’s medical records when a former dependent enters military service, and an assessment of how these policies impact participation in behavioral health care. The issue received media attention after a series of Military Times reports.
In no particular order, the council also made recommendations in support of standardizing the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), connecting with the millennial military family, and improving community collaboration.