Hello and thank you for signing this petition on Change.org in support of the 23,000 military children with autism.
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).
Last year I had the opportunity to speak to my Congressman, John Larson [D-CT]. I shared with him the struggles facing military families with autism. He listened. He took action. There is now a bipartisan federal bill - HR2288 - Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (CMKAA) - that would make autism therapies available to both active duty and retiree dependents and would remove the arbitrary dollar cap on care. It has passed both the House and Senate as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). TRICARE was given 90 days to implement this care.
We are still waiting.
My husband has served honorably in the Infantry for more than 25 years. He was a scout sniper in Desert Storm. On his first tour to Afghanistan as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant, he arrived home a day late to meet his brand-new baby girl who had just been born with special needs. He left her in a hospital crib with a feeding tube to return to Afghanistan when she was 15 days old. He headed back home four months later for her open-heart surgery, not by choice, but because his Command determined that his family needed him more than his men. He had preferred to stay with his men to ensure their safety and success of mission. Because that is what he signed up for.
On his next tour to Afghanistan, as an Operations Sergeant Major for the same Infantry Battalion, I had to call him 7,000 miles away to tell him that his little girl had autism. Several times over the next several months of his deployment, I had to continue to tell him that we were still being denied services to treat her autism, that TRICARE does not provide the recommended treatments.
It is two years later and my husband still gets up before me and our two young children EVERY DAY and heads out to work before the sun comes up. He still carries his duties and responsibilities to his unit every second of every day, including the days when our five-year-old daughter is inconsolable or has pulled off her diaper and flung its contents all over her bedroom. He still gets down on his hands and knees and cleans the floors and the walls while I bathe our daughter at two in the morning. Then he gets up at 5am, puts his uniform back on and starts all over again in service to his country. Because that is what he signed up for.
There are scientifically proven medical treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis for the treatment of autism. The Congress and the Department of Defense have been denying what our military children need in order to trim the budget. Our service members did NOT sign up for that.
It is time to do the right thing here.
Any elected servant of The People who claims to care about what our military families are living through with a child on the spectrum, will not only sign on as cosponsor to this legislation, but will CHAMPION the cause and push fellow Members of Congress to make it a reality.
Our brave service members never leave a fallen soldier behind.
Now it is the job of Congress to return the favor.
Tell them that our military families deserve better.
Mrs. Rachel Kenyon
Wife to Command Sergeant Major William Kenyon, 1stBN 102nd IN(MTN) CTARNG
Mother of two beautiful babes - one with autism