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Military Families Speak Out Against Hiring Freeze That’s Cost Them Their Child Care
The Trump administration’s Jan. 23 freeze on hiring civilian employees for federal jobs is having unanticipated aftershocks within the military community.
Military.com’s Amy Bushatz and Think Progress reported Tuesday that two U.S. military bases — Fort Knox in Kentucky and Army Garrison Wiesbaden in Germany — are partially or completely cutting child care programs for military children.
At Fort Knox, the Child Development Center is no longer taking new children, and those families already signed up can no longer access hourly or “part-day” care, according to a memo released on Feb. 17.
President Trump's hiring freeze is now destroying childcare military families rely on. pic.twitter.com/NffTbUO96M
— HomefrontProgressive (@HomefrontProgs) February 19, 2017
At Wiesbaden, parents were informed that all part-day programs – including pre-school programs – are suspended beginning March 1 due to staff shortages.
Another letter from a military installation explaining that military families will lose childcare due to President Trump's hiring freeze. pic.twitter.com/xduPEkxHv5
— HomefrontProgressive (@HomefrontProgs) February 21, 2017
According to the official White House memo on the hiring freeze, “no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances,” and the use of contractors to get around its provisions is forbidden.
The White House said the freeze “does not include or apply to military personnel,” and, as Bushatz reported, a Feb. 1 DoD memo exempts civilians working as military child care providers from its reach.
However, Bushatz writes that “Army base commanders are still required to get permission from the service secretary before filling positions, according to a Feb. 16 memo from Diane Randon, acting assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs.”
Emily Bewley, an Army wife whose family been stationed at Wiesbaden for about two-and-a-half years, says got news of the cuts via a memo given to her when she went to pick up her daughter from school on Tuesday.
“Most of the reactions that we saw were either shock or anger because we had no idea that this was even a possibility of happening right now or that there was such a shortage that it was even close to happening,” Bewley told Task & Purpose by phone from Germany.
While Bewley said the loss of her daughter’s pre-school education is the biggest impact on her family, the cuts are also impacting her work life, since she runs a home-based business. Now, Bewley says she is losing precious time with her husband and family, since work hours can only happen when someone else is home to share the parenting responsibilities.
And she’s not alone. Bewley said that families all over the post — including three with whom she shares a stairwell — are stuck figuring out next steps. For Wiesbaden families, she said, the only “viable options” are German kindergarten and pricey international schools.
The downsides of German kindergarten, she said, include the fact that it’s actually taught at a pre-K level, due to differences between American and German education systems; that it has early application deadlines, which occur in May of the year before the schooling begins; and that it often denies entry to American children due to the language barrier, since no classes are taught in English.
And while Bewley sent her older daughter to an international school for pre-K when her family first PCSed to Germany, the dramatically higher cost as compared with on-post options makes it a hard ask for military families.
“That is EUR 450 [$475.68 USD] a month compared to the $100 a month that we pay for pre-school on-base,” she said, adding that off-post commutes can also be problematic for families when most are down to a single car.
Bewley also stressed that the hiring freeze is causing shortages across the base at Wiesbaden – not just in terms of child care. She encouraged other military families facing similar circumstances to “speak up."
Stateside, children of military parents Army who remember what it was like for their parents to find care for them while on active duty condemned the cuts on social media.
Alessandra Kellerman, a public speaker and crisis counselor who says she worked on military child care programs in Europe, tweeted Task & Purpose the following statement in response to the announced cuts.
— HOMEFRONT HUGS USA (@HomefrontHugs) February 22, 2017
Angel Anderson, a California-based beauty company CEO, expressed her dismay via a public Facebook post.
The National Military Family Association also spoke up.
DoD: child care workers exempt from freeze--Army doesn't have process in place to provide exemptions. Fix it, Army! https://t.co/gX4oVDLKHT
— NatlMilitaryFamAssoc (@military_family) February 22, 2017
While it’s unclear when the hiring freeze will end, Bewley encouraged other families to speak out against the freeze its impact on military families. “If, you know, Fort Knox and any other military installations who are experiencing this, or are going to experience this, if it’s happening, send it viral,” she said. “Let it be heard.”
29 years after Desert Storm, an Air Force general says we’ve forgotten the lessons that made it so successful
When Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) took to the podium at the dedication of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial site in Washington D.C. last February, he told the audience that people often ask him why a memorial is necessary for a conflict that only lasted about 40 days.
Horner, who commanded the U.S. air campaign of that war, said the first reason is to commemorate those who died in the Gulf War. Then he pointed behind him, towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam are etched in granite.
"These two monuments are inexorably linked together," Horner said. "Because we had in Desert Storm a president and a secretary of defense who did the smartest thing in the world: they gave the military a mission which could be accomplished by military force."
The Desert Storm Memorial "is a place every military person that's going to war should visit, and they learn to stand up when they have to, to avoid the stupidness that led to that disaster" in Vietnam, he added.
Now, 29 years after the operation that kicked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait began, the U.S. is stuck in multiple wars that Horner says resemble the one he and his fellow commanders tried to avoid while designing Desert Storm.
Horner shared his perspective on what went right in the Gulf War, and what's gone wrong since then, in an interview last week with Task & Purpose.
The Navy SEAL accused of strangling Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was promoted to chief petty officer two months after Melgar's death, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.
US troops are still ready to 'fight tonight' against North Korea despite canceled exercises, general says
U.S. troops are still ready to "fight tonight" against North Korea despite the indefinite suspension of major military training exercises on the Korean peninsula, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
March Air Reserve Base in California will host nearly 200 U.S. citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, China due to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, a Defense Department spokeswoman announced on Wednesday.
"March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense (DoD) stand ready to provide housing support to Health and Human Services (HHS) as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China," said Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah in a statement on Wednesday.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus, which is a mild to severe respiratory illness that's associated with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has so far killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, according to news reports.