The Silver Linings Project
This is my first time creating and starting an advocacy movement by myself. This is brand new, and my plan will most likely go through a lot of editing. I have to trust that with effort put forth that it will work. I cannot do it alone, so I invite you to tag along. The first step will be starting a conversation. Another giant step will be digital activism- subscribing, reposting, retweeting, tweeting, and educating yourself on the matter. To make this as comprehensive as possible, it will be easiest to start with who, what, when, where, and why format.
What is The Silver Linings Project?
The Silver Linings Project aims to brings awareness to active duty servicemembers, veterans, military spouses, and even military children who are suffering from an invisible physical disability and or a mental disability. I want to focus on breaking the stigma of starting a conversation about our health, especially if we are suffering in silence.
Why help military spouses?
There is only a small handful of adademic research done on military spouse depression, suicide, physical disability, and hidden illness etc. More often than people think, mental and physical disabilities are experienced in silence, as they are not visible to the eye. I have talked to many spouses who suffer from a chronic pain disorder or autoimmune disorder and they tend to put their own needs last. We need to advocate to find the source of their medical problems because so far the military’s healthcare and insurance is not much help. Since we look visibly healthy, we are dismissed with an inaccurate diagnosis that will remain on medical records. This leads to a prolonged process in diagnosis. This is turn, leads to depression and internal suffering due to feelings of defeat and hopelessness. Military spouses suffering in silence is just as prevalent as suicide among service members, if not much more. Analysts are still working the statistics, but we know that the number of military spouses that commit suicide, or suffer from depression is extremely high. On top of this, many spouses do not have help. Our servicemembers are often away on trainings, operations, deployments, duty, and working long hours. To their credit, many dedicate their time at home to helping out as much as possible, but sometimes it is just not enough. For example, a spouse may gather a support system at a duty station, which takes a long time for many people-myself included. A few months to a couple years later, they are due for a PCS, and have to start all over again. The importance of a support system is comradery between two or more people experiencing the same or similar things- in most cases it is not a common situation. They often help by carpooling when one is feeling ill, or even coming over to help cook and watch the kids. Military spouses not only need better quality care, stigmas being broken, but a lot of extra support. This is why we want to help military spouses.
A NICBI study done for depression amoungst military spouses and demographics. Another NCBI article I found. Apart from bloggers writing about this subject, information from scholarly articles are few and far between, and also outdated. It is time for a change.
There are many supportive programs for servicemembers, and even peer reviewed scholarly articles published for the public on the subject of mental health and suicide. This is why my primary focus is on military spouses and their children. However I think it is still critically important to shed a light upon the epidemic of suicide upon servicemembers. According to the most recent study published in June of 2018 by the VA, 20 veterans die by suicide everyday. A number that has remained unchanged for many years.
How to accomplish this mission?
HEALTH CARE REFORM
Demanding quality care in our military hospitals. We will not be dismissed with an inaccurate diagnosis. Tricare Prime must improve and servicemembers need more options.
Our veterans and their families need affordable and quality medical care for large premiums they pay.
Tricare Prime should be giving out high quality referals on the first time without the stress of navigating the system and long waiting lists for high priority matters.
More training for people who work on Tricare’s call center. *At times they are less educated on the question we are calling in about than we are.
Most importantly, start a conversation about hidden physical, developmental disabilities, and mental illness. As military spouses we always put our servicemembers first, and then our children. As I said in the introduction digital activism or even civic outreach. I want to heavily emphasize, it is going to be a struggle taking care of your servicemember when you are struggling to take care of yourself. They teach us that the military always comes first, and I think we forget that our wellbeing and health comes first. You are #1.
Who is the mastermind behind this project?
Me, Hannah. I came up with the name and the idea of The Silver Linings Project, but I cannot do it alone. I invite EVERYONE to join me in help raising awareness about this issue. It is always important to pull your information from credible resources (Reference citations above). I am in the process of putting together a fact and reference sheet.
When and where is this happening?
Right now! However I am working alone. I encourage who ever reads this to start with digital advocacy. In other words. repost this post, email it to friends and family, tweet about it, subscribe to my blog.
An example of change
It wasn’t until 2013 that Tricare approved opioid treatment programs for beneficiaries. During 2013-2018 treatment was very limited. In 2017, Tricare approved expansion of Opioid treatment programs for beneficiaries. This includes access to methadone clinics and suboxone perscribing doctors for maintenance or detox. Whether you agree with this controversial topic or not, the updated research states that opioid treatment programs with therapy saves millions of dollars, but more importantly it saves lives. Despite the outdated common belief that starting methadone is switching one drug for another, it is a safe, highly regulated drug that saves lives of thousnads and a solution to curve opioid cravings. Military advocates went to congress to make this happen. This shows that together we can make any change possible.