My Last ID Card

Over my school’s winter break, I was lucky enough to visit my family at their current home in Wiesbaden, Germany. After my parents picked me up from the airport, we headed on post, and my siblings practiced our well-rehearsed routine of passing up our ID cards for the gate guard to scan.

As I pulled mine out, however, something caught my eye: the expiration date. In just a few short months, my ID card will expire–for good, I think. On my 26th birthday, I’ll lose my eligibility for TriCare Young Adult health insurance, and thus will lose my ability to keep a military ID card. I’ve been able to fend off this milestone for a while–first through going to college, then by using TriCare Young Adult after graduation–but it’s coming, and this time there’s no avoiding it.

This should have been a trivial moment. I only go on military bases a few days a year at this point, I never shop at the Commissary or PX without a family member beside me, and I’m not even on TriCare anymore. But in that moment of realization, I felt a sort of visceral shock and sadness. That ID card marks the official connection between myself and the US military, and once it’s gone, I’m not sure my relationship with the military will ever be the same.

The military has been perhaps the single most important institution in my young life, and I suspect that’s true for many of us. It shaped where I lived, who I interacted with, what I valued and wanted to do with my life, and so much more.

At this point, however, I’mmaking many of those decisions for myself, and my reliance on the military has faded fast. The vast majority of the people I work with and hang out with have little or no connection to the armed forces. I now see the army from much more of an outsider perspective, and as none of my siblings have any plans to join the military, I’m not sure I’ll ever regain that sense of belonging I once had.

My Dad is still active duty, so my family is still pretty attached to the Army,but once he retires, I’m not sure how, or if, I’ll still feel connected. The military has already left a massive and indelible mark on me, but will I continue to feel a part of that broader community once my physical connection becomes obsolete?

I know many Corvias Scholars and Alumni have already negotiated that transition away from the military, and I’d love to hear how you navigated that path. Do you still feel like a part of the ‘military’? Are you as comfortable identifying yourself as part of the military community? Is there anything you miss about having an ID card? (I know I’m already dreading not being able to use the gym when I visit my family…) Your advice would be incredibly valuable to those of us fearful of giving up our MWR privileges, so please share in the comments!

Military Child Care On The Table in Budget Negotiations

As Democratic and Republican leaders continue to try to work out a long-term solution to funding the government, President Trump’s proposed budget has emerged as one key starting point in the negotiations. One potential change in the budget could have a large impact on people connected to Corvias Scholars: substantial cuts to child-care programs for military families.

The military has a reputation for providing excellent child-care, with over 700,000 children participating in one of the military’s many child-care programs. Programs are affordable, with parents paying on a sliding scale based on income, and ninety-five percent of the programs are nationally accredited. The programs have been justified by the demanding nature of the military’s work, and the need to ensure army kids have a place where they can receive a stable source of  high-quality support and education.

In President Trump’s proposed budget, such programs would receive about $100 million less in funding. MilitaryTimes was unable to determine why these funding levels would decrease after the proposed budget was unveiled.

Losing such programs could make it difficult for military spouses to pursue employment, or eliminate a source of support for spouses parenting alone during a deployment.

However, funding for military family support programs saw a net overall increase in President Trump’s budget due to a $200 million increase in ‘warfighter and family services.’ While a breakdown of that additional funding was not available, advocates for military families suggested it may not be enough to keep up with the demands of a growing military.

It’s also important to note that military child-care services have already been impacted by budgetary negotiations. Bases in Wiesbaden, Germany, and Fort Knox, Kentucky had to temporarily close certain child-care services after a hiring freeze issued by the President made it difficult to hire enough staff to keep the facilities open. While it is possible to ask for exceptions to the hiring freeze, a sluggish hiring process has led to long wait lists for spots in child-care facilities across the military.

This is also not the first time programs benefiting military families have been targeted for cuts. In one example, programs that allow military children to use the GI bill have been targeted for elimination as a budget-saving move.

While none of these cuts are imminent, the fact that they are emerging in proposed budgets certainly suggests that they may be coming down the pipeline. It will be important to stay tuned to see how the budget might ultimately impact military families, and to speak up if ultimately these changes produce effects that matter a lot to you. Contacting your representatives in Congress is a fantastic way to show elected officials what is important to you, and is particularly important with issues like this that only affect a subset of our population. Websites like https://contactingcongress.org/ make it easy to find your representatives’ phone numbers and email addresses. As these potential changes to military programs take shape, consider speaking out if this issue matters to you!

 

 

Military Brats: Destined for Stardom?

After watching the trailer for “The Last Jedi” earlier this week, some friends and I started discussing the illustrious career of the actor best known for playing Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill. It wasn’t until we took to Wikipedia to check out his other major roles that I realized that I actually had something in common with Hamill–he, like me and many other Corvias Scholars, is a military brat!

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