February 2021 Newsletter

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News from MHCE


Monthly Newsletter


Our Call

to the New


Put Military

Families First

As an organization that has stood

behind military families for more than

50 years, the National Military Family

Association, or NMFA, knows that the

challenges they face aren't getting any


The issues military families

experience have been exacerbated by

20 years of continuous war and now

the pandemic. And there's no escape:

Families across the services -- activeduty

and reserve components, all

branches, ranks and grades -- need the

Biden administration's support so they

can continue to support their service


Military families know that "together

we're stronger," the NMFA's motto.

Now is a time to be joined in a cause

that everyone supports: a strong and

resilient America.

Military families need the new

administration to help in four critical


First, no military family should go

hungry. But they are. We've always

known some families struggle, but it's

no longer some families -- it's many.

There are three immediate solutions

the White House can take:

• Use executive action to reduce

the barrier to military families

accessing needed help through

the Supplemental Nutrition

Assistance Program, or SNAP, by

excluding Basic Allowance for

Housing in determining income


• Screen for food insecurity within

Defense Health Agency and

Department of Defense child care

facility enrollments.

• Work with Congress to pass the

Military Family Basic Needs

Allowance in the administration's

first 100 days.

Military families cannot keep waiting

for help to ensure that they can put

food on the table. Washington must act

now, before another military family is

added to the count of Americans who

are food insecure.

Second, military families need access

to mental and behavioral health

resources. A 2020 report by the DoD

Inspector General revealed that the

military health system routinely fails

to meet access-to-care standards for

mental and behavioral health care. We

can't let this slide, especially as stress

associated with the pandemic has

increased the demand for mental and

behavioral health care.

We've heard from families in crisis

who couldn't get the mental health care

they needed in these extraordinary

times -- when the stress they're facing

is also extraordinary, and all while the

DoD assures military families that

their mental health needs will always

be met. While the long-term solution

is complicated, there are two urgent

actions that the Biden administration

must take:

• Immediately freeze the

planned military health system

restructuring and medical billet

cuts until these urgent needs are


• Ensure families have continued

access to telehealth.

Third, military families need access to

affordable, quality child care. While

our nation is experiencing a child

care crisis, military families -- dealing

with deployments, long training

exercises away from home, Guard and

Reserve activations, and irregular and

overnight hours -- feel the problem

acutely. Military families are counting

on Washington to ensure that the


• Adequately fund child care fee

assistance programs.

• Partner with the community

outside the gates to increase

accessibility when on-installation

wait lists are too long.

• Incentivize child care workers by

offering competitive pay, tuition

assistance, and debt forgiveness


At the NMFA, we're committed to

continuing to work with the Pentagon

on this issue. Our military members

cannot do their jobs when their

children are not cared for.

While piecemeal solutions are not the

answer, there is an immediate solution

to affordability (one that the DoD has

acknowledged but overlooked for

more than a decade): It must make

Dependent Care Flexible Spending

Accounts available to active-duty

service members, the only federal

employees who don't have access to

them. The Pentagon could do this

tomorrow because it doesn't require an

executive order or legislation; it only

requires the DoD's civilian leadership

to put military families first.

Military families are counting on the

White House to lead with them in

mind, serving and supporting them to

make our country stronger.

The NMFA is encouraged to know

that the new administration has sent

a clear message that military families

matter. It has already brought back

the military-focused Joining Forces

initiative and hired proven military

community leaders -- military spouses

Rory Brosius at Joining Forces and

Patricia Barron, the new deputy

assistant secretary of defense for

military community and family policy

-- who will focus on the critical issues

facing military families.

Finally, we have one broad

recommendation that is not pandemicrelated

but is still important: The DoD

should review policies and programs

for supporting military families

so that they reflect the family unit

as defined by the service member,

including life partners, common-law

marriages and blended families, to

ensure that the department recognizes

the wide diversity of today's military

families and addresses the special

circumstances of military life.

Accordingly, we strongly urge the

Biden administration to act quickly

on Section 581 of the fiscal 2021

National Defense Authorization Act,

which requires the DoD to implement

Recommendation Four of the July

2019 report of the National Academies

of Science Committee on the Well-

Being of Military Families, titled

''Strengthening the Military Family

Readiness System for a Changing

American Society."

These are not detailed policy asks. We

have those, too: We will ask for help

ensuring that Tricare provides the

health care military families need; that

military spouses have the support of the

White House in initiatives that ensure

career portability and success, access to

educational resources, improvements

in the Exceptional Family Member

Program; and countless more -- but

our military families are in crisis. We

need to know our families are fed, have

access to mental health resources, and

that our children are cared for.

Mr. President and Dr. Biden, we call on

you and your team to take swift action

to make it clear that Joining Forces

is truly back -- but with a greater

emphasis on solutions that military

families need now.

2 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

Defense Department Restarts Massive Military

Health System Overhaul

The Defense Department has restarted a monumental overhaul of its

military health system after a months-long pause during the coronavirus


Military health officials said Tuesday that they have resumed the transfer

of management of all military medical facilities to the Defense Health

Agency, with a goal of completing the transition by Sept. 30, 2021.

The Defense Health Agency also is proceeding with rollout of its MHS

Genesis electronic health records system and consolidating health

facilities and programs in certain regions into administrative markets.

It is also supporting service reviews to determine the necessary mix of

medical staff to support troops and beneficiaries, according to Thomas

McCaffery, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

The pandemic has proven that the military medical system works best

when directed by a single entity rather than four separate commands,

including the DHA and the medical commands of the Army, Navy and

Air Force, McCaffery said Tuesday during the annual meeting of the

Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, or AMSUS.

"The pandemic experience has underscored the need for a consolidated

enterprise management of our health care system," he said.

The health system overhaul was mandated by Congress in 2017. By law,

the DoD is to shift management responsibilities of military hospitals and

clinics to the DHA, while the services focus on providing health care to

active-duty service members and training medical personnel for combat

and deploymentcare.

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 3

As a result, the services are seeking to shed nearly 18,000 frontline health

care workers and the DoD has targeted 50 military medical facilities for

downsizing or closure.

At the same time, the DoD is introducing a new electronic health record

system, MHS Genesis, to select installations.

But these efforts came to a stop March 24 because of the pandemic.

McCaffery said Tuesday the initiatives have now resumed.

"We're in the midst of implementing a collection of reforms that, taken

together, represented the most dramatic change to the system in over

three decades," he said.

McCaffery explained that the DoD has launched its electronic health

record system at 21 sites and plans to roll out five additional "waves" in


The establishment of administrative markets also has resumed, and the

DHA is helping the services determine their requirements for military

medical personnel, defense officials said.

But one aspect of military health reform -- the restructuring of 50 MTFs,

based on community assessments of available medical care through

private providers -- will have to be reassessed, Defense Health Agency

Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Place said.

The DoD announced in February the list of facilities slated for

restructuring based on community assessments of available medical care

by private physicians through the Tricarenetwork. Under the plan, 37

outpatient clinics would begin serving only active-duty personnel, and

three were slated to close.

But those recommendations will need to be tweaked, since many

physician offices and even hospitals cut services or closed permanently

during the pandemic, Place said.

"Hundreds, if not thousands, of physician offices have either downsized

or closed, and so the assumptions that went into the data ... the data that

went into the initial validation of what might be available outside of the

gates ... weren't true any more," he said.

The DoD is reassessing the communities and will have new data compiled

later this month. Depending on the outcome, the DHA will proceed with

realignment and closures in locations where the community can support

new patients at private practices, Place said.

The secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force, along with the branch

chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Space Force, sent

a memo to then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Aug. 5 calling for the

return of all military hospitals and clinics already transferred to the DHA

and suspension of any planned moves of personnel or resources.

They said the COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated that the reform

effort introduced "barriers, creates unnecessary complexity and increases

inefficiency and cost."

In early March, the Air Force and Army surgeons general told the House

Appropriations defense subcommittee that the reorganization is an

"extremely difficult [and] complicated merger of four cultures." They

suggested that the Defense Health Agency isn't ready for some of the

coming changes.

As the pandemic took hold, tensions that had been bubbling since the

initial facility transfer erupted. At one facility, commanders and DHA

leadership argued over who was responsible for the COVID-19 screening

tents in the parking lot.

"There are definitely turf battles going on," said the source, a DoD

civilian employee. "[The services] are making it very hard."

If friction continues between the branches and the Defense Health

Agency, it was not apparent during a forum at AMSUS that brought

together Place and the surgeons general or deputy surgeons general of

the military branches.

Navy Surgeon General Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham said the Navy

Bureau of Medicine is committed to training medical professionals to

perform in combat and support operational requirements.

Air Force Deputy Surgeon General Maj. Gen. Sean Murphy said the

Air Force Medical Service is "really about our operational forces," and

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Scott Dingle said his service is honing

its forces to ensure that soldiers receive "world-class care."

"We fully understand we must reform. It is the law," Dingle said. "As we

go through reorganization, [soldiers] will still get care, the world-class

medical response, the world-class engagements they need to ensure that

they're ready to go out the door to deploy, fight and win when called


"Those areas where it seems as though the capabilities that exist ... [and]

really can do that function, we'll set forth a plan for the process of descoping

capabilities at those installations and the personal handoff of

care requirements for individual patients to practitioners outside the

gates," he said.

Roughly 200,000 Tricare beneficiaries, including 80,000 active-duty

family members, are expected to be affected by the changes.

Critics have called the effort to shift non-uniformed beneficiaries to

Tricare simply a form of privatization -- an effort to save taxpayer dollars

that undermines the department's obligation to provide care for military

personnel and their families.

But McCaffery said the reforms are designed to make sure that the

military services have medical personnel trained for warfighting and to

improve patient care for all.

"Having both our private-sector care system and our direct care system

under one joint entity will allow us to have more standardized health care

delivery policies and business practices across the entire military health

system. And that will go a long way to reducing undesirable variation for

both our providers and our patients," McCaffery said.

In August, the military branches called for a halt to the transfer of medical

facilities to the DHA,saying the plan is not viable.

4 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

USS Chafee Crew Quarantining in San Diego

Due to COVID-19 Outbreak

Most sailors aboard the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer Chafee

have been placed under quarantine in San Diego hotel rooms following

a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew, according to Navy


An unspecified number of sailors assigned to the Hawaii-based ship

have tested positive and have been isolating off the ship, according to

Third Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson. Earlier, officials had

said about a dozen personnel had tested positive.

The rest of the crew received tests on Friday in response to the outbreak.

placed in a Restriction-of-Movement (ROM) status in hotels in the

local San Diego area," Robertson said. "A caretaker crew will remain

aboard in order to support the ship's operational and material readiness,

and execute necessary support functions."

The ship will also be cleaned, he said.

None of the infected sailors have required hospitalization, Robertson


The ship has been in San Diego for training exercises.

"In order to ensure the health of the force and guarantee mission readiness,

most of the crew members assigned to USS Chafee have been

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6 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

He and his fellow conspirators saw their

opportunity when Wilmington was plunged

into one of the worst health crises it has

ever faced in the fall of 1862 — the yellow

fever epidemic. More than half of the city's

population had fled in fear of contracting the

disease that would claim 654 souls. Those who

couldn't leave or stayed behind barely left their

homes, making it possible for slaves to move

about town without calling too much attention

to themselves.

A Most Daring Escape: The

Tale of Former Slave, Union

Navy Veteran William Benjamin


WILMINGTON, N.C. (Tribune News Service)

— William Benjamin Gould likely held his

breath as he stepped into a boat on the night

of Sept. 21, 1862 and took his first step toward


In front of him was 28 miles of danger, as he

and 21 other enslaved men used the cover of

night and an ongoing epidemic of yellow fever

to escape from Wilmington and rendezvous

with the Union Navy off the coast of the Cape

Fear. All they had to do was make it by boat

from downtown Wilmington all the way down

river to the ocean — without being spotted.

until the 1990's when his initials were found

covertly carved into his work.

Sometimes, slave owners would let their

workers keep a portion of their earnings, maybe

even enough to save up and buy their freedom.

But it was not something that many slaves

could bet on. No matter how much respect he

got for his work or self-satisfaction he got from

his almost-certainly-secret studies, Gould was

still a slave and he was eager to break free.

On the night of Sept. 21, Gould and the group of

enslaved men tested that theory by convening

at the foot of Orange Street and making a break

for it. One of those men was George Price,

who would go on to represent New Hanover

County in the state House of Representatives

and Senate during Reconstruction.

They made the journey down river slowly and

as silently as possible. The loudest noise was

probably their hearts beating as they inched

closer to freedom.

They took turns at the oars as they hugged

the shoreline and hoped they could move fast

enough to reach the ocean before their owners

noticed they were gone.

For Gould and all of these men, they were

running from something but they were also

heading toward something. A better future.

The most precious privilege of freedom they

weren't allowed to have until they decided to

take it.

Everything rode on their discretion and these

men certainly knew it. They had one chance

and this was it.

Gould was born into slavery in Wilmington

on Nov. 18, 1837 to Elizabeth Moore, a slave

owned to Nicholas Nixon, who ran a peanut

plantation on the outskirts of Wilmington.

His father, Alexander Gould, was a white

Englishman who migrated to the United States

after the War of 1812 and initially settled in

Granville County.

Nixon's plantation was near the Pender County

line today, but he also owned a home downtown

on Chestnut Street, where Gould lived in the

slave quarters.

Unlike many of those in his position, Gould was

educated and literate, even though it's unclear

how he managed to do so in a time when Black

people weren't allowed such a luxury. More

consequently for his owner Nixon, he was also

a skilled plasterer, whom Nixon would farm

out for a considerable profit.

He would notably make significant

contributions to the beloved plaster work that's

defined the antebellum grandeur of the Bellamy

Mansion, although it wouldn't be discovered

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 7

The men made it safely to the blockade set up by

President Abraham Lincoln at the outset of the

war. Awaiting them were the USS Cambridge

and the USS State of Georgia, which spotted

the two boats just after 8 a.m.

Initially, the men would be considered

contraband, a designation that Gould's greatgrandson,

William Benjamin Gould IV, would

later co-opt as the title of his book on his

ancestor, "Diary of a Contraband: The Civil

War Passage of a Black Sailor."

As the title suggests, Gould didn't just seek

refuge with the Union Navy boats just outside

the reach of the Confederacy and, therefore,

his now-former owner. He and several of the

other men he fled with joined the Navy, and he

almost immediately began keeping a diary of

his experience.

To enlist, he had to take what he referred to in

his writings as the "Oath of Allegiance to the

Government of Uncle Samuel" — what he

called Uncle Sam.

His diary is an essential text for Civil War

and African-American historians because it is

considered to be the only known naval diary

written by a former slave.

The entries in his diary range from simple

location updates as he began his service to

combat the very institution that had oppressed

him his entire life, to the various battles and

scuffles engaged in by the USS Cambridge and

later the USS Niagara, on which he served.

He wrote about his daily duties, the captured

Confederates his ship transported and often the


On board, he was given the rank of First Class

Boy, and later promoted to Landsman and Ward

Room Steward. He was a low-ranking member

of his ships, but he served with dedication.

He believed in the cause the Union was fighting

for and he wanted to support it any way he


In his diary, he wrote that it was the "holiest of

causes, Liberty and Union."

Gould served for three years until he was

formally and honorably discharged from the

Charleston Naval Shipyard in Massachusetts.

Gould's diaries wouldn't be discovered for

decades after his death, in old boxes given to

William Benjamin Gould III.

The diaries cover his entire three-year service,

save for two periods when he was hospitalized

for the measles in 1863, and a time between

Sept. 1864 and Feb. 1865 when they have not

found any writing.

Now out of the service and with his full

freedom, Gould would waste no time to marry

his beloved Cornelia Williams Read inside

the African Baptist Church on Nantucket

Island, Massachusetts. The two likely met

in Wilmington before she was bought out of

slavery and moved to Nantucket in 1858.

Gould briefly reunited with Cornelia on his first

leave in the spring of 1863 in Boston. During

the war, the two exchanged at least 60 letters.

The Goulds finally settled in Dedham, Mass.

in 1871, where they would have two daughters

and six sons.

All six of his and Cornelia's sons would serve

in wars. The oldest, William Benjamin Gould

II, fought in the Spanish-American War in

1898, while the other five all fought in World

War I.

A now-famous picture of Gould surrounded by

his six sons, all in their military uniforms, ran

in The Crisis, the NAACP's first magazine in

December 1917.

Gould continued to pursue his own work later

in his life. The plastering skills he learned

in Wilmington brought him acclaim and

recognition in Dedham, most notably restoring

St. Mary's Catholic Church. He was a founding

member of the Episcopal Church of the Good

Shepherd and served in the GAR, the Grand

Army of the Republic on veteran's matters,

even ascending to the title of commander of

Post 144 in 1900 and 1901.

He died at the age of 85 on May 23, 1923.

It was announced recently that Dedham is

exploring its options for erecting a monument

to Gould. He is already acknowledged on a

North Carolina State Highway Historic marker

outside the Bellamy Mansion, a small and

necessary gesture of gratitude for his immense

contribution to our knowledge of what life was

like for a former slave who joined the fight.

Even when he was still with the Union Navy,

Gould began corresponding with the Anglo-

African, a black abolitionist paper that provided

reporting for the black soldiers and sailors

serving in the war.

He would begin contributing articles to the

publication under the nom de plume, Oley.

One of those articles detailed one of Gould's

few return trips to Wilmington after his escape.

He had returned in 1865 to find his birthplace

to be a different city.

The slave auction block that once stood near

Market Street was gone and the bell that once

rang to inform slaves of their 9 p.m. curfew was

silent. He saw black citizens actively involved

with trade and commerce, and they filled the

schoolrooms they were previously not allowed

to be in.

The aftermath of the Civil War would not be

a time of immediate or widespread acceptance

for the African-African community. But what

Gould saw was the beginning, something as a

child in Wilmington he probably feared may

never come.

"On the whole, Wilmington is changed," he


8 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

Birmingham Physician Dr. Jade Brice Shares How

Auburn’s PEMBA Program Elevated Her Practice

No matter your job title or field, an MBA will help you better

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Baptist Medical Center.

Dr. Brice Roshell:

“Around 2015, I was living and working as a Hospitalist in

Omaha, Nebraska. I had been interested in pursuing my MBA

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specialized in healthcare.

At the time, I only found two schools that offered a physicianfocused

executive MBA. I decided to take a leap of faith and

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Honestly, I was nervous about not having a traditional business

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finance, accounting and more. I was excited to broaden my

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My class was made up entirely of physicians, so we all had that

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have private practices, others were hospitalists and more. But we

shared that common thread of being a physician and working to

succeed in an ever-changing healthcare landscape. We were able

to bounce ideas off of each other based on each of our unique


WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 9

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10 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

House Democrats Settle

Income Debate for Direct


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan

National Guard (MING) has had an extensive list of priorities in

keeping their communities safe. High on that list is keeping veterans

who call Michigan home safe and healthy. This meant providing

assistance to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans (GRHV) throughout

the pandemic when needed.

In early December, members of the Michigan National Guard doubled

down on their assistance to the home. They have been delivering some

of the best tools available to test and measure the risk for COVID-19

among members and staff. Included in this, is providing daily antigen

point of care testing to staff. This enhances the previous testing

requirements, which was twice weekly polymerase chain reaction

(PCR) testing for all staff and weekly polymerase chain reaction

testing for members.

Other screening precautions are still taking place, such as health

screening questions and temperature checks. The teams are also

scheduled to begin providing vaccinations at the GRHV Dec. 6, 2020.

The MING and Michigan Veterans Homes have a close relationship

and are tied together because they fall under the Michigan Department

of Military and Veterans Affairs. Michigan operates two homes for

veterans: the Grand Rapids home, constructed in 1885, and the

Marquette home established in 1981. A new home is scheduled to

open in Chesterfield Township in 2021.

"We are honored to be a part of a great effort working with the veterans

home staff to ultimately keep staff members safe so they can provide

great care to our veterans," said Pomorski. "It is important we give

back to the vets, because these men and women served our country."

"Providing our veterans the best care possible will always be our

mission, and we are immensely grateful for our partnership with

the Michigan National Guard as we combat this pandemic," said

Anne Zerbe, director of the Michigan Veterans Homes. "Part of our

department's commitment to help make Michigan the best place for

veterans to live, work and raise a family is to consider each of them a

member for life, with quality resources to turn to during each phase of

their lives; that's where the Homes come in."

The guard will also recently begin providing this testing to the DJ

Jacobetti Home for Veterans (DJJHV) in Marquette, Michigan. Staff

will be tested in a drive through style testing clinic and will then wait

in their cars for test results. After receiving a negative test, they will

receive a text message indicating they are cleared to enter the building.

Following a positive test, they will be contacted by a contact tracer,

instructed to return home to quarantine, and follow-up with a medical


"We are facilitating outdoor rapid COVID-19 testing on staff members

reporting to work ensuring folks entering the facility have a negative

COVID test," said Capt. Andrew Pomorski, Air Platoon Covid Vaccine

and Testing Team (CVTT) OIC. "The CVTTs are also providing PCR

testing assistance to GRVH staff for the residents."

While working, the teams adhere to CDC guidelines and other

precautions to ensure both the safety of themselves and those being


"All CVTT members wear face coverings while on shift," said

Pomorski. "They also wear rubber latex gloves to limit physical skin

contact with testing materials, forms, and staff members limiting a

chance for COVID transmission."


contact Kyle.Stephens@mhce.us

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 11



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12 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

Now Is The Time To Apply for the 2021 Pat Tillman

Foundation Scholarship

The Pat Tillman Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2021

Tillman Military Scholarship program.

The application cycle opens Feb. 1 and will close at 11:59 p.m. (PST) on

Feb. 28.

The scholarship will pay for both academic expenses such as tuition and

fees, as well as those pesky add-on costs like living expenses and books.

Tillman Scholars can expect an average award of $11,000.

The Tillman scholarship is known as an "unrestricted scholarship," which

means that you receive a lump-sum payment to use as necessary. It does

not affect your GI Billpayment or eligibility.

The scholarship is open to active-duty members, Reserve and National

Guardmembers, veterans, spouses and surviving spouses who are

attending (or plan to attend) a U.S.-based college as a full-time student.

Pat Tillman was a football player with the Arizona Cardinals who left

the NFL and enlisted in the Army after the 9/11 attacks. Following his

2004 death while serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan,

family and friends established a scholarship in his name at Arizona State


• Two, 400-word essays based on prompts provided in the application

• Financial worksheet

• Character recommendation from a third party

• Biography of no more than 250 words

• Student Aid Report (SAR) generated through the Free Application for

Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

• Two photos from military service or with their spouse who is/was in

the military

• Institutional financial aid award letter

• A background check.

Successful applicants will be selected based on service, scholarship,

leadership and impact.

For more information visit the Pat Tillman Foundation's website.

In 2008, the Pat Tillman Foundation was established, and the scholarship

was expanded nationwide to military members, veterans and their


According to the Pat Tillman Foundation, its mission is to "unite and

empower remarkable military veterans and spouses as the next generation

of public and private-sector leaders committed to service beyond self.

Through the Tillman Scholars program, we are building the leading

fellowship program for military veterans and spouses. Founded in 2008,

the program supports active-duty service members, veterans and their

spouses with academic scholarships, a national network, and professional

development opportunities, so they are empowered to make an impact at

home and around the world."

The top programs Tillman Scholars are enrolled in include health care,

business, law, STEM, public policy and more. Since its inception, the

foundation has awarded more than $20 million to 695 scholars at more

than 166 universities.

Those selected to receive the scholarship are highly successful, with 98%

of scholarship recipients graduating from college and 96% reporting

employment within 12 months of their graduation.

To apply, you must submit:

• Current resume

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 13



14 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

53% of Military Families Don't Want COVID-19 Vaccine,

Survey Shows

In a straw poll of 810 active-duty military

personnel, spouses and veterans, more than half

of active-duty families, or 53%, said they did not

plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine, citing safety

concerns and suspicions over development.

Nearly half of veteran families agreed.

The survey was conducted by researchers with

the military advocacy group Blue Star Families

Dec. 10 to 14. In it, 40% of 57 active-duty service

respondents said they would get the vaccine,

while 49% said they would not. Another 11%

said they were undecided.

Among 613 spouses of active-duty personnel,

32% said they planned to get the vaccine, 54%

said they would not and 14% were undecided.

Veteran families were slightly more inclined to

get the vaccine, with 41% saying they would

get it, 46% saying they would not and 13%


Seven in 10 respondents said they didn't want

to get the vaccine because they didn't trust the

development process or had concerns about

safety, according to the results, released Thursday.

"I am looking for long term placebo controlled

studies. I do not want my family, or service

members to be guinea pigs," one military spouse

wrote in the survey's comments section.

The survey was conducted the week after the

Pew Research Center announced the results of

a national poll that found 60% of Americans

would definitely or probably get a coronavirus

vaccine, and the same week the Food and

Drug Administration issued an emergency use

authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine


Jennifer Akin, a Blue Star Families researcher,

said she started noticing social media posts by

military family members about vaccine hesitancy

and decided to conduct the survey after Pew

released its results.

While the Blue Star Family survey is not a

scientific poll, its results provide a baseline for

observing acceptance or reluctance over time,

Akin said.

"This is a divisive topic ... but at the end of the

day, if we as military families can recognize that

this is a readiness issue, it can be very helpful,"

she said.

According to the survey, 28% of respondents

didn't perceive the COVID-19 coronavirus as a


"There's work to be done to counteract that

narrative," Akin said.

Since the survey was conducted, the FDA has

issued an emergency use authorization for another

COVID-19 vaccine, made by Moderna. Both are

based on messenger RNA technology, which uses

bits of genetic code to instruct a person's cells

to make antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2


To date, more than 32 million doses have been

administered in the U.S., according to Dr.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute

of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Speaking at a virtual presentation Thursday

hosted by the American Red Cross and Blue

Star Families, Fauci said the research and safety

data on both vaccines was reviewed by scientists

and medical experts "not beholden to the federal

government or companies but to the American

public," and the decision to administer it was

made by scientists with an independent advisory


"That's the reason why many of you hear me,

every day in the media, saying when your turn

comes up, please get vaccinated, for your own

safety, for that of your family and that for the

American community in general," Fauci said.

For the most part, military family members have

not had to make the decision whether to get the

vaccine because they don't have access to any.

The Department of Defense has administered

508,965 vaccinations, but mostly to active-duty

military personnel and essential employees, as

well as some Tricare beneficiaries over age 75.

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 15

Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the

Defense Health Agency, said the DoD hopes to

expand eligibility to those 65 and older "soon,"

but added that anyone who has access to a vaccine

elsewhere should take it.

"If it's available in the community and easier

for you to get it there, then get it at your first

opportunity," he said. "Please let us know if you

get the vaccine somewhere else so we can update

your records."

Among the big concerns voiced in the Blue Star

Families survey and during the virtual presentation

Thursday were vaccinations for children and

pregnant women.

Roughly 18% of active-duty family respondents

and 26% of veteran families said they would seek

the vaccine for their children.

Neither of the available vaccines is approved for

young children. The Moderna shot is approved for

those 16 years and older, while the Pfizer vaccine

is approved for people at least 18 years of age.

Fauci said children and pregnant women were not

included in the vaccine clinical trials because they

are considered vulnerable populations. But studies

have begun on adolescents.

"You wait until you get pretty confident that you

are dealing with a safe and effective vaccine. And

then you can start trials in children, which we have

already done ... a de-escalation study, starting off

with older children and working your way down,"

Fauci said.

Tests on pregnant women have just begun, he

added. Of the 32 million vaccinations given so

far, 10 pregnant women -- mainly health care

workers -- have received shots and no "red flags,"

including unexpected medical reactions, have

been observed, Fauci said.

Since the pandemic began, nearly 226,000 people

affiliated with the DoD have tested positive for

COVID-19, including 143,272 military personnel

and 23,034 dependents. Another 45,106 civilian

employees and 14,341 military contractors also

have had the virus.

More than 250 have died, including 19 service

members and nine family members.

Across the U.S., more than 26 million Americans

have tested positive for COVID-19, and nearly

455,000 have died. The number of new cases has

dropped by 30% in the last 14 days, and President

Joe Biden has launched an ambitious effort to

deliver 150 million vaccinations in his first 100

days of office.

During the Blue Star Family forum, first lady Jill

Biden urged viewers to continue practicing social

distancing, wear masks and "get the vaccine when

it's your turn."

"We can beat this together," she said.

16 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

Senate Confirms

McDonough to

Oversee VA

WASHINGTON — The Senate has

overwhelmingly voted to confirm President

Joe Biden’s pick to oversee the Department

of Veterans Affairs.

The Senate confirmed Denis McDonough as

VA secretary by a vote of 87-7 on Monday.

McDonough was President Barack Obama’s

chief of staff.

McDonough will oversee a sprawling agency

that has presented organizational challenges

for both parties over the years. But he never

served in the armed forces, a fact noted by

leading veterans advocacy groups.

McDonough touted his experience working in

the Obama administration, telling lawmakers

he understood how to untangle and solve

complex challenges across the government.

He said his experience as chief of staff

also enabled him to view the sacrifices that

veterans make and that he feels he owes

a profound debt of gratitude to those who

served in the military.

McDonough replaces Robert Wilkie, who

served as VA secretary under President

Donald Trump.



WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 17


contact Kyle.Stephens@mhce.us


18 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION



SIU Carbondale has three

great opportunities

With health care-related positions

expected to continue to increase in

the next decade, the School

of Allied Health offers a

flexible Bachelor of Science in

Health Care Management (HCM degree), along

with graduate degrees in Health Administration

and Health Informatics.

32 %

The U.S. Department of Labor’s

Bureau of Labor Statistics, in

its 2018 Occupational Outlook

Handbook, projects a 32 percent increase in

medical and health service managers through

2026, compared with a 10 percent increase

in administrative services management

occupations and 9 percent rise in human

resource managers over the same time.

Discover how close you are to SIU

Carbondale and the future you dream of.

Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management

• Core courses available online with exception of the


• Core coursework can be completed within two years.

• Certified by the Association of University Programs

in Health Administration (AUPHA).

• Internships are completed in a health care facility with

university approval.

• Prepares students for graduate study in health care,

business or other related fields, or for entry-level health

care management positions.

Master of Health Administration (MHA)

• Prepares students for administrative roles within health

care organizations.

• For students seeking graduate degree within health

care management or allied health professions.

• Courses offered in accelerated format (eight-week blocks).

Master of Health Informatics (MHI)

• Prepares students for professional roles within

health care organizations.

• Designed for hospital managers, health information

technicians, coding specialists, nurses and physicians.

The master’s-level programs offer:

• 45 credit hours.

• GRE or GMAT not required.

• Opportunity to earn the MHA/MHI degrees concurrently.

• Most online courses are asynchronous for student


• Some courses offered synchronously to provide

opportunities for student-to-student interaction.

For more information, visit: sah.siu.edu and

choose undergraduate or graduate classes,

or call 618/453-7211.


WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 19





Transitioning to civilian life?

At Wexford Health, a leading

provider of innovative

correctional health

services, we value people

who want to make a

difference. And like

the military, a career

in corrections offers a

structured and

rewarding experience.

We are currently hiring

RNs & LPNs

in AL, AZ, FL, IL, IN, NM, PA, & WV.

To learn more, please contact Paige Gandolfi:

Email: pgandolfi@wexfordhealth.com

Call or Text: 724-691-7474


20 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

Military Spouses Speak Up: We Don't Just Want Any

Job, We Want the Right Job

It's a truth often repeated in military spousecircles: The career goals of

milspouses, we say, are as varied as the population. We don't all want

the same jobs, we don't all want government jobs, and we don't even

all want jobs that we can do from home.

Now, thanks to a recent survey of military spouses done through a trio

of spouse career support programs, that fact could make its way to

policymakers' desks.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes

survey, done in collaboration with the Institute for Veterans and

Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University and Starbucks,

leveraged the experience of more 3,300 military spouses to gather

insights about their employment and well-being.

Conducted between June 22 and July 10, 2020, participants were

married to an active-duty service member, reservist, National

Guardmember, or a retired or recently separated (within the last

three years) veteran. And thanks to its timing, it took into account

experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey was meant to capture whether spouse well-being and

mental health are directly related to gaining and keeping meaningful

employment. It also looked at the impact of chronic military spouse

unemployment and underemployment, now coupled with pandemic


"The intent of this research was to identify how employment,

unemployment and underemployment impact military spouses' mental

health and wellbeing, and provide actionable recommendations for

community providers and nonprofits, employers and government to

best support spouse employment and wellbeing outcomes," Hisako

Sonethavilay, a senior adviser with the Military Spouse Program at

Hiring Our Heroes, said in an email to Military.com.

well-being and mental health. It's allowed me to maintain a sense of

purpose and has often served as a much-needed lifeline, providing a

sense of normalcy and familiarity with every curveball military life

throws at us," said one Marine Corps spouse participant.

Surveys and reports capturing data on issues, problems or military

life experiences broadly recognized in the military community are

important as advocates attempt to drive policy changes.

To learn more of the key findings of the 2020 Military Spouse

Employment and Wellbeing Survey, tune into the live "Reclaiming

a Sense of Self Through Employment" event at 1 p.m. ET on Feb.

4. Featured speakers and subject-matter experts will discuss the

relevance of the research and the recommendations they're suggesting

to help support the employment and well-being of military spouses.

Creating a Culture

of Caring

Offering master’s

and doctoral

degrees for

Registered Nurses

Specialties Offered:


Family Nurse Practitioner

Women’s Health Care NP

Psychiatric-Mental Health NP

Survey participants captured a broad sample of the spouse community.

About 45% were married to an enlisted service member between the

ranks of E-5 and E-9, while 28% were spouses of those in the ranks of

O-4 to O-6; 88% were active duty.

"My career has been one of the most stabilizing forces in our military

family's journey. Without question, it has positively impacted my own

Learn more at frontier.edu/military

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 21

22 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

POTUS Calls Nimitz

During Super Bowl

Sailors and Marines aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN

68) received a phone call during the Super Bowl from President Joe

Biden, Feb. 8.

In addition to delivering a message to the entire crew, Biden spoke

directly to several Sailors, including fellow Pennsylvania native

Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Jordan Barnes, from Pittsburgh.

''I think that was one of the coolest things that I have gotten to do in

my military career thus far," said Barnes.

''Being [one of] seven out of 5,000 Sailors to actually speak to the

Commander-In-Chief was an excellent and humbling experience."

Aviation Boatswain's Mate-Aircraft Handling Airman Isis DeShields,

from Delmar, Delaware, agreed.

''It just felt like

having a natural

conversation with

President Biden."


''At first I thought it would be really nerve racking," said DeShields.

''It just felt like having a natural conversation with President Biden."

Biden also spoke with Nimitz Carrier Strike Group

(NIMCSG) leadership, including Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander.

''It was an honor to have the opportunity talk with President Biden

during the Super Bowl," said Kirk, a native of Hershey, Penn. ''The

Sailors and Marines of the NIMITZ Carrier Strike Group continue to

answer the nation's call as we conduct maritime security operations in

the South China Sea. Whether we were rooting for the Bucs, Chiefs

or just a great game, it was a pleasure to hear from the Commander in

Chief on Super Bowl Sunday, far from home."


contact Kyle.Stephens@mhce.us

WWW.MHCE.US Monthly Newsletter | 23

Tricare Select is a new health insurance plan that replaced Tricare Standard

& Extra.

Who Is Covered By Tricare Select?

Everyone eligible for Tricare with the exception of active-duty members

may enroll in the Tricare Select plan. The program is available worldwide.

Tricare Select Basics

With Tricare Select you can get care from any Tricare-authorized provider,

network or non-network. No referrals are required, but some care may

require prior authorization.

If you see a network provider you won't have to pay anything except your

copay or file any claims. If you visit a non-network provider you may have

to pay the full cost and file a claim with Tricare to be reimbursed.

How To Enroll

For information on how to enroll see the Tricare website at https://www.


Or visit our Tricare Select coverage page for more information including

coverage and costs at https://www.military.com/benefits/tricare/tricareselect/tricare-select-details.html.

24 | MHCE - News www.mhce.us FEBRUARY 2021 EDITION

perception among female veterans that

their service was detrimental to their

physical and mental health. The Service

Women's Action Network found in 2018

that "60 percent of women who served

thought their time in the military had

negatively impacted both their physical

and mental health."

If You Want to Recruit and Retain More

Women, Reexamine Military Health Care

Maj. Audrey Atwell is an active-duty

Army officer and mother of four with

over 19 years of service.

As women have become a larger part

of the military force over the decades,

policies to address their unique health

care needs have adapted and changed

dramatically. However, there remain

critical gaps in essential health care

services that significantly impact the

reproductive health and psychological

well-being of female service members.

Policies that address the specific needs

of women have strategic implications

affecting the military's ability to achieve

manpower requirements and mission

readiness. With women now representing

roughly 16% of the force, it is critical

for military leaders and policymakers to

identify and address issues that may be

hurting the services' ability to recruit and

retain women.

In the 1970s, as the military transitioned

to an all-volunteer force, women

comprised only 5% of the Army, and

were being involuntarily separated at high

rates due to pregnancy and motherhood.

The high separation rates of women

had a detrimental effect on the Army's

ability to meet manpower requirements.

In 1975, leaders were forced to contend

with the increased presence of women in

the service and repealed the involuntary

separation policy, Executive Order

10240, which authorized involuntary

discharge of women due to pregnancy or


Although the inclusion of women

brought about a greater pool of talent, it

also brought new policy challenges that

remain unsolved.

In May 2020, the Government

Accountability Office published a report

to congressional committees on "Female

Active-Duty Personnel-Guidance and

Plans Needed for Recruitment and

Retention Efforts." This report emphasizes

that, despite incremental increases in the

population of military women over the

past 15 years, female service members are

28 percent more likely to separate than

their male active-duty counterparts. The

report further identified six categories of

"other factors" that influence a woman's

decision to separate from the military,

including work schedules, deployments,

organizational culture, family planning,

sexual assault and dependent care.

For the first time in almost 30 years,

the Department of Defense conducted

in August a DoD-wide Women's

Reproductive Health Survey (WRHS)

created to assess the health care needs

of women in uniform. The survey will

be used to formulate policies going

forward to address inadequacies in care

or lack of services. I am excited and

hopeful to see how the DoD responds to

the survey and moves forward to address

inadequate services for women in ways

that potentially impact readiness and


However, after taking the survey, there are

deeper, more prominent issues affecting

women within the military health care

system that the DoD leaves unexplored.

Most markedly, the survey did not assess

a woman's experience with sexual trauma

or sexual assault or obstetric care, or

how any of these topics affect a woman's

mental and overall sexual health and


It is important to capture women's

experiences navigating health care in a

bureaucratic system bogged down and

overtaxed to the point that it is struggling

to provide basic gynecological and sexual

health preventative care resources for its

active-duty population.

The Military Medicine Journal in 2016

concluded "that women in the military

have an age-standardized rate of

unintended pregnancy up to 50% higher

than the general population with higher

rates among less educated, nonwhite, and

married or cohabiting women." The study

determined a correlation between higher

rates of unintended pregnancies and

access to preventative health care services

such as reliable, effective contraception.

Women of all ages serve in the military,

and the health care system should

be capable of providing adequate

services for the populations they serve.

Adolescent women, young adults and

women of childbearing age and beyond

all have differing needs and require

distinctly different solutions to their

health care challenges. It is difficult to

assess adequately the broad spectrum of

women's specific health care needs, as

they change dramatically throughout a

woman's life.

Many women who serve are of

childbearing age, and fertility issues, as

well as prenatal, perinatal and postnatal

obstetric care, are of great concern. When

you look at obstetric outcomes based on

race, the health care gap further divides.

A 2019 report to the House and Senate

Armed Services Committees states, "Risk

of death can vary by race, ethnicity, and

age, suggesting that further analysis

of demographics can be done to better

understand and reduce pregnancy-related


Within the military health care system,

there are known obstetric discrepancies

resulting from systematic inequalities due

to race.

In April 2020, Maternal and Child Health

Journalpublished a study concluding that

"non-Hispanic Black military women

had consistently worse outcomes than

their non-Hispanic White counterparts.

This suggests that equal access to health

care does not eliminate racial disparities

in outcomes or utilization; additional

research is needed to elucidate the

underlying etiology of these disparities."

Lack of access to gynecological care

and sexual health resources for women

is a huge issue, and it has second- and

third-order effects, including reduced

readiness, unintended pregnancies and the

spread of sexually transmitted illnesses --

as well as a degradation of overall health

for women. These problems spill over

into larger issues that affect more than

recruitment and retention.

Women are the fastest-growing veteran

demographic and, like the active-duty

military, the Department of Veterans

Affairs is struggling to meet the health care

needs of this new population of veterans.

Less-than-desirable gynecological and

obstetric outcomes affect not only the

current system, but also the VA as women

conclude their service. A 2018 report from

Disabled American Veterans outlines

the diagnoses faced by VA patients that

specifically create challenges during

pregnancy, including anxiety, posttraumatic

stress disorder, depression,

musculoskeletal problems and endocrine

dysfunction, among others.

"PTSD, for instance, has been associated

with a higher risk of spontaneous preterm

births, more antenatal complications

and extended length of stay in the hospital

postpartum," it found. "Overall, women

who receive VA-sponsored maternity care

have a higher-than expected incidence of

pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction

and placental abruption."

It could be argued that the lack of

preventative care and lack of adequate

access to gynecological, obstetric, or

other types of care while on active-duty

are contributing to an increased need for

specialty services when women become

veterans. At the very least, there is a

Another point of contention is that some

women experience discriminatory Tricare

policies. Civilian dependents have more

Tricare-covered authorized birthing

options than active-duty women, resulting

in more control and say in their obstetric

care. For example, home births are an

authorized birthing option for civilian

dependents, but are not authorized for

active-duty women. Active-duty soldiers

should be afforded the same flexibility

and birthing options that Tricare covers

for dependent spouses.

With women integrated into units of all

types, it is critical to examine these policy

concerns. The implication of these policy

issues, lack of adequate care, discrepancies

in care and lack of a comprehensive

plan to address current problems will

certainly affect the services' ability to

retain talented women in the force. Three

of the six identified "other factors" that

influence a woman's decision to separate

from the military can be addressed in part

through the revision of women's health

care policies and formal examination of

women's needs during their childbearing

years. Family planning, sexual assault

and dependent care are all deeply personal

and influential experiences that affect a

woman's decision to continue to serve.

With the increase of diversity and

inclusion studies throughout the DoD,

the services can conduct more research

and target their policies to address and

reevaluate imbalanced policies.

Going forward, implementation of

Women’s Health Centers on each

installation would significantly reduce the

bureaucratic processes that limit women’s

access to specialty care. It is also critical

that additional research is conducted to

understand and eradicate the underlying

racial disparities experienced within the

military healthcare system. Understanding

the complexities of some of these issues

can be done through the expansion of the

DoD’s Women's Reproductive Health

Survey to understand the broad spectrum

of women's specific health care needs,

as they change dramatically throughout

a woman's life. Women of all ages serve

in the military, and the health care system

should be capable of providing adequate

services for the populations they serve.

Inadequate or insufficient gynecological

or obstetric care in the military should

no longer be considered a "female-only

issue." Lack of adequate health care is a

soldier's issue, a leadership issue and a

talent management issue. As a readiness

issue that directly affects the deployability

of 16% of our active-duty force at any

given time, it's a problem leaders simply

cannot afford to ignore.

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