By Dr. Terry Adirim, Deputy Assistant of Defense for Health Services Policy and Oversight, Air Force Medical Service
/ Published April 28, 2017
Maj. James Tschudy, a pediatrician with the 6th Medical Operations Squadron, discusses medical options with the parents of a patient during a routine check-up at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 21, 2016. As a former military child, Tschudy relates to the lifestyle and challenges military children face and loves taking care of military children because military children are amazing and resilient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jenay Randolph)
The Military Health System is dedicated to making sure we provide good care to our service members, retirees, and families. As a pediatric emergency physician for more than 20 years, I have witnessed heartbreaking scenes of children brought in for treatment after a terrible accident or illness, so I know firsthand how important it is to do our best for our most vulnerable.
During April’s focus on Military Children’s Health, it’s important to highlight our youngest beneficiaries.
When the mission requires, some military parents have to go to war, leaving their children behind. We know that if a child of a deployed service member experiences health care issues, that service member, thousands of miles away, also has trouble. Our duty in the MHS is to provide peace of mind by guaranteeing health care for children.
Despite the challenge of frequent moves for families, the military offers several avenues to ensure that every child receives the best care available to them. One such path is the Exceptional Family Member Program, which helps families ensure that they are stationed where they can receive appropriate care for their family and family members. TRICARE’s Extended Care Health Option provides supplemental services to active duty family members with unique needs to ensure an integrated set of services and supplies, such as special education, assistive technology devices and home health care.
In recent years, feedback provided by families has led to program enhancements and new benefits. The DoD Office of Military Family Readiness is also another benefit for families with children, it provides resources through Military OneSource, a one-stop shop for answers to military life questions, including parenting tips and children’s health. All of these programs prioritize children’s health and well-being, noting that “good care” is more than making sure a case of the sniffles is cared for; it goes into the social realm of children’s well-being.
We cannot rest on our laurels and work in a vacuum when it comes to military children’s health. We continuously review our policies observe what changes are needed so children receive the right care. The MHS leadership is committed to the health of all family members.
According to Military OneSource, about 40 percent of service members have children, so it’s important to pay attention to this large segment of our beneficiary population. Surveys indicate that many children of service members follow their parents into the military. Taking care of them today, is an investment in the future.