Change military rule leaving Military Spouses with no health care in a divorce
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Powerful word, but just for a moment, do just that. You fall in love with a
service member and become a part of the military community. Your life,
because you fell in love with someone who wears our country’s uniform,
changes forever. This is a life of service, dedication, and countless sacrifices
over the years.
A whole cadre of military spouses who made a home, raised a family, supported the mission, and kept the home front strong while they watched their loved ones depart to training, service, and deployments.
Imagine what that life would entail. Far away from family, career, opportunity,
moving every couple of years, uprooting children from schools, we made homes wherever the military sent us.
Imagine one-day life changes. It can be in the most horrendous way possible, or even amicable, your marriage ends. Divorce happens.
Imagine you are left wondering, after years of being everything to everyone, what will I do now? After living young adulthood in the military culture, you’re now cast out because you are not the service member.
To retain health care, among other privileges, you must fall under what is known as the 20/20/20 rule; the service member must have served 20 or more years, you must have been married 20 or more years, and 20 or more of those years must overlap.
There is a 20/20/15 rule which provides one year of health care. There is no step in between.
Your world changes in unbelievable ways as you discover that- here’s a stark example of what can happen; if you have only 19 years of your service member’s active duty time in your total married years, and 364 days, that means you will lose ALL OF YOUR BENEFITS including, and most critical, medical care, because you are missing one day. Any divorce is a loss, but as a military spouse, you lose not only health care, but the military community. As that military ID card is ripped from your hands, you’ve now lost a large portion of your adult identity.
Now Imagine you discover this as you’re fighting Stage 3 Breast Cancer. That is my story, and there are so many others like it. Not only was there heartbreak but also a health fight to survive a cancer, that was raging inside of me. I had a son. I wouldn't
leave him motherless without a fight. I beat it.
Yet, I learned that all I would get because I was missing 1 year, (I had a total of 19 years of that active duty time magic equation of 20/20/20 rule) in marriage, was one year of healthcare under the 20/20/15 rule.
We don't all build up a 401k or a job, career, our life was that we were
the ones that stayed at home and volunteered countless hours on our
military bases and posts, that saved DOD enormous amounts of money - no need to contract out - military families volunteer. That's why across the Military
Commands (MACOMS) Volunteer Appreciation Ceremonies happen every year and
that big fat check of hours equated into dollars saved is presented to a very
large applause in that community.
In a divorce from a service member, somehow you cease to exist, and it's tragic. I am just one of the countless former spouses that failed to meet the 20 years that allows the military to say, "Your time as a military spouse and sacrifices counts, you can retain your benefits."
The rest of us are left to wonder, “Now what?”
So here's the call to the nation, to our leaders in the White House, Congress, and Department of Defense.
Step up and make the change to leave no former spouse behind. These former spouses selflessly gave their time and energy over the years to support the country’s mission. The congratulatory words of appreciation for their time and effort now falls silent.
We are told through briefings and accolades as we serve from our senior leadership how our role in this life is crucial to the mission, one example I point to General Odierno’s farewell speech at his retirement. "It's often hard for me to stand up here and make other people understand how much our spouses sacrifice. You don't understand. You don't understand everything that they do every day in order to make us a better Army. I don't believe there's any other profession (where) we count on our spouses to do so many things.”
Thank you, General Odierno, for recognizing us and your amazing spouse.
The warrior ethos is, “leave no one behind”. We’re asking that you not leave former spouses behind.
So here's what we propose:
1). Secure medical care for military spouses that at 10 years of active duty married time with their sponsors (military spouses) they have guaranteed health benefits equal to what is now offered to retirees at the cost of which is $500 a year for continued care.
2). Beyond 10 years of active duty marriage, all benefits remain intact for the military spouse, especially those who have been in and can show a record of abuse in a war-torn home and who will require continued mental and physical care resulting from years of military caregiving.
Sign the petition and help me and countless former spouses who stand ready to make sure this law is changed for those that follow us.
Even if you're not military, please show support for us as you do service members. We were the front line of support for those service member. Watch a homecoming video, let it remind you what we sacrificed, those tears, the waiting, the fear of losing a loved one it was real and our lives. Now we need your voice and help.
-Former Military Spouses across this nation #WE SERVED TOO
My name is Gaby Juergens, former military spouse, married 28 years, short 1 year of 20/20/20 lost it all. Founder and creator of the Homefront Girl® Brand "We shared our Hero with the world."
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