Understanding The TRICARE Impact On Military Dependents With AutismThe Veterans Site
Unless you have been part of a military family, it is often difficult to fully understand the challenges these families struggle with. Many children face social challenges when moving frequently, coupled with the stress of having a family member or parent on deployment. Children with autism already face social challenges, but a child with autism in a military family can face even more complications.
Approximately 23,000 military dependents have been diagnosed with a form of autism, according to Autism Speaks. Whereas some children are able to adapt to frequent moves to various locations, children with autism struggle mentally and physically without a consistent schedule. The turmoil may result in difficulty adapting to new schools, friends, and neighbors, as well as changes within the household when a parent is on leave.
While military dependents with autism struggle with social changes, retired members of the military have struggled with the financial burden of providing quality health and mental care for their children with autism. As of 2012, Tricare, the health care provider for military members, classified augmented behavioral analysis therapy as part of the extended health care option which was only available to members of the military classified as active duty, reports Veterans United Network. As a result, military members who were discharged or retired could no longer receive financial assistance with care for their dependents with autism.
An outcry from autism organizations, legislators, and military members did result in slight changes to the Tricare policy. As of 2015, Tricare has extended care, but both active duty and discharged families are still facing financial difficulties facing annual caps on the care their children with autism can receive.
Members of our military — whether retired, discharged, or active duty — deserve the best care for the service they provide. You, too, can be part of the solution by supporting the Veterans Site and advocating for the rights of our military servicemen and women’s dependents with autism.