By now you’ve heard the Defense Department has plans to slash 20 percent of its medical force, or about 18,000 billets.
So what could these cuts mean to you and your family?
MOAA hosted a Facebook town hall on July 18, gathering a panel of advocacy experts, to discuss the potential consequences.
[RELATED: Key DoD Family Advisory Council Flags Military Medical Cuts as Top Priority]
Capt. Kathy Beasley, USN (Ret), MOAA’s director of health affairs, hosted the event, which included Coleen Bowman of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS); Kara Oakley of the TRICARE for Kids coalition; and Dr. Joel Labow, a retired military medical officer and a professor of pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
“There is likely going to be backups and misunderstandings and … even more difficulties getting appointments if this is not done very carefully,” Oakley said of the impending cuts.
Many of these positions could be critical for military families, such as in pediatrics and obstetrics, and could force beneficiaries to seek help in civilian medical centers.
[RELATED: Retired Military Surgeons General to Congress: Intervene on Medical Billets]
“Every time I have been referred out, there’s very few providers out there that provide care for military families,” Bowman warned.
Beasley also questioned whether these cuts will affect prescription access for beneficiaries.
MOAA has sought intervention from Congress to pause these proposed billet cuts until a thorough review of military medical manpower requirements could be conducted. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act would provide such a provision, and we are seeking support in the Senate, as well. You can help. Click here and send a letter to Congress. Tell them not to dismantle military medicine.
To learn more about the effect these cuts could have to military families, watch the full panel discussion below.
Katie Lathrop is the Digital Content Specialist at MOAA and the daughter of a retired Army Officer. Follow her on twitter @Katie.F.Lathrop.