The Washington Post today published an article about initiatives on behalf of military families, led by the Marines and the Army, to address the medical, educational and emotional challenges faced by special-needs families.
According to the Defense Department, about 220,000 active-duty and reserve service members have dependents with special needs, but only 90,000 are enrolled in the military's main program to serve them. For the past two decades, the program has ensured that families are transferred only to bases that have doctors available to address their needs. That has prompted concern among service members that it will interfere with promotions and has caused the program to be underutilized.
The Army initiated a program in 2007 to offer as much as 40 hours a month of free respite care for soldiers who have dependents with disabilities. In 2008, the Marine Corps followed suit. In addition, the Corp created about 60 new positions at installations across the country to help Marines and their families make the transition from place to place more smoothly. A caseworker is assigned to each Marine Corps family to help them understand each state's differing disability regulations and navigate the bewildering process of accessing special education services.
The Washington Post reports that "[t]hree staff attorneys have been designated to help parents with legal issues related to disabilities, including pressing school districts for those services. . . .
"They needed to do something so that service members could deploy without worrying," said Joyce Raezer, executive director of the Alexandria-based National Military Family Association.
The entire Post news story Military helps families find help for special-needs kids may be read here.