Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
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.”
A sprawling new survey says a ‘culture of resilience’ helped US military families weather housing woes for years
A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.
The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."
Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.
What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.
"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."
Decorated Vietnam vet presents Purple Heart and Bronze Star to family of slain UNC Charlotte shooting hero
Hailed as a hero for knocking a shooter off his feet in a UNC Charlotte classroom, Riley Howell was posthumously awarded two of the military's highest honors in his hometown of Waynesville, North Carolina this week.
Howell, 21, and classmate Ellis "Reed" Parlier, 19, died when a gunman opened fire in their classroom in the Kennedy building on April 30.
CAIRO (Reuters) - After losing territory, ISIS fighters are turning to guerrilla war — and the group's newspaper is telling them exactly how to do it.
In recent weeks, IS's al-Naba online newspaper has encouraged followers to adopt guerrilla tactics and published detailed instructions on how to carry out hit-and-run operations.
The group is using such tactics in places where it aims to expand beyond Iraq and Syria. While IS has tried this approach before, the guidelines make clear the group is adopting it as standard operating procedure.