Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Meeting and Why

Today I had the privilege of attending a town hall-style meeting with Mrs. Petraus and Elizabeth Warren (love her books) regarding special consumer issues related to military families. The room was full of military spouses, active duty and reserve service members and service providers. We were invited to share concerns and experiences to inform the creation of a new agency that will take over from seven other federal agencies special consumer protections.

Originally Secretary Geithner was scheduled to attend as well, but he was unable to come. The reason given was that he had "an emergency situation arise" and the room chuckled because...hmm...wonder what the emergency situation might be??? Debt ceiling perhaps??? I just thought it was funny that they didn't just say that he was busy trying to keep the United States solvent, one way or the other.

One lady, a sailor's wife, noted that her husband is about to deploy, leaving her to care for their children alone. This is not unusual at all, but their 14 year old son is a quadraplegic and uses a ventilator, so she is unable to leave him alone ever, not even to mow the grass. Tricare pays for nursing care that is medically necessary, which means about twelve hours a day, which they use at night so the parents can sleep. The other hours are generally okay because this lady and her sailor are able to tag-team and lift their son for his bath and to go outside, something she cannot do alone. She stated that the Exceptional Family Member program at Fort Belvoir (an Army base) told her that she was ineligible for their services because they are a Navy family and immediately the three colonels in the row ahead of me whipped back around in their seats and made furious notes. I noticed that the other high-ranking officers and a couple of people in suits scattered throughout the room did the same thing...wonder how many phone calls that EFMP office got this afternoon? Or whether whoever the unhelpful person was who told her that still has a job?

The other item of note was that this new agency is growing - and they're hiring for people all over the country. I was so tempted to apply! How exciting would that be, to get in at the beginning of a new agency providing the precise kind of education and protections that I'm passionate about? It would be awesome. But then I look at Mrs. Petraus, who has been married for over thirty years and is busy with this stuff at this point in her life. I decided have time to work...later. Work doesn't grow up or get independent or go off to college and not need me any more. People will be needing financial education and advocacy forever but my kiddos are only going to be small once and for now, I choose to be around for that. Work can wait.

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