The ‘sequestration’ spending cuts have been in effect since the beginning of March – and they are starting to hurt. These automatic spending cuts, combined with a general rollback in appropriation growth, have combined to force DoD planners to slash a wide variety of quality-of-life programs that directly affect military families.
The Military Family Association responded by soliciting photographs and true stories depicting base neglect, poor access to benefits, and so on. The Military Family Association then produced a booklet, which they are in the process of providing to key members of Congress.
Here are some examples of what they found:
Longer wait times at OB and clinic appointments. Furlough-day closures of clinics, making appointments harder to get, and the OB office is short-staffed. One nurse told me that her stress level was so high that she had an interview the next day at 7-Eleven; a nurse would seriously rather work at 7-Eleven than at a military hospital?
Air Combat Command has made a decision to fund NO base libraries, despite the cost savings to airmen, as well as HIGH satisfaction ratings. Air Force libraries are probably going the way of the Navy ones.
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, MA – When I had my baby in April of this year, we were unable to secure a pediatrician for her due to referral complications caused by sequestration. Her newborn visit was an “emergency” visit because there was no other way for her to be seen. In addition, I became very ill soon after leaving the hospital after delivery, and when I called our clinic at Hanscom AFB to be seen by my primary care doctor, I was informed that the clinic was no longer servicing dependents and that I no longer had a doctor. No one ever notified me of this. Because of our location, we are mandated to a military treatment facility, and since ours was now closed to me, I was given no option by the clinic staff or TRICARE other than to go to an emergency room and wait.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – I have been enrolled in TRICARE Prime since 2008. Due to sequestration restrictions, my referral requests to see a specialist were denied. Misdiagnosis and poor treatment from my doctor caused the problem that needed a specialist in the first place. I had no choice but to switch to TRICARE Standard. Changing plans has resulted in many out of pocket medical expenses for our family, but it was the only way to cure what would have been a life-long condition.
NAVAL AIR STATION, JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – Sequestration has been extremely hard on the military community, including my own family. Cuts to health care clinic hours have been particularly alarming. At our last location this made it a nearly two month wait for an appointment of any kind. It is miserable to be ill, hurting, or in need of medication or care, and unable to be seen for such a long period of time.
You can see the full report here.
Meanwhile, planners in the Department of the Navy are battening down their hatches for the fiscal storm. Admiral William Gortney, head of Fleet Forces Command, is readying a series of measures from slashing maintenance and flying hours to delaying scheduled ship overhauls – a move that not only strains the existing fleet, but also spills over into a highly skilled civilian work force at major shipyards.
The Navy had to cut 10.3 billion in FY 2013 and will have to find $14 billion more in the year following October 1, unless Congress intervenes. Meanwhile, the Navy put significant pressure on its operational budget by ramping up activity in the Mediterranean through the Syrian Crisis over the past month.