Video Text Alternative: Military Children, Health, and Research: Interview with Ms. Anissa Davis, Navy Spouse and Parent

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Family Issues of Military Connected Children with Special Needs

Extended Interview with Anissa Davis, Military Spouse—Marines

April 14-15 | Natcher Conference Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
Ms. Anissa Davis: My name is Anissa Davis.
Camera view of Ms. Anissa Davis. Ms. Davis: I work for the Department of Navy in the Personnel Support Detachment, and I am a Navy spouse.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: I think the topic of this conference is so important to me personally, because making sure that people understand that we have a wide range of military children out there—and some have special need issues and some do not—but just making sure that there is an understanding across the board of what our children need to be successful, and for our special needs children is making sure that they have all of the resources available to them so that they can be successful. They have hurdles that they need to overcome; we need to make sure as a community that they have exactly what they need to be successful.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: Some of the special needs with our military children—ADHD, autism, being deaf, blindness, and what I learned today was that asthma, which both of my younger children have been diagnosed with recently, that that is a special need by definition. So—and some of the hurdles—proper medical care because we’re military, we transition so much. You know, in the civilian world, you can have a doctor for 30 years—that doctor knows you, knows your medical history. We don’t have that luxury as military members, because we move every 2 to 3 years. So now you have to go out, you have to find a new doctor who now has to learn your medical history, so you find yourself repeating your history, and then your medical record doesn’t always follow you wherever you go; it’s supposed to, but not everything makes it into your medical record. So that’s a lot of the hurdles that we face.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: I think that we need to better connect, or there needs to be a better connection, between the military families and research and our doctors, because as I stated, we transition so much that you can work with two doctors and you can get two different answers, unfortunately. And so who do you trust? For my instance, my children never saw their primary care manager; it was always another doctor. So who do you trust? Recently our doctor passed away; no one told us, and we were just kind of pushed off to another primary care manager. Now you have to learn them; they have to learn you. So I think as we research more, as people transition, we need to get better connected to our families so we have a health care system that we can really trust, and I don’t think that we have that.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: I have three children, my oldest being 22; he’s my stepson, but he’s my son. He was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age, and prior to him being diagnosed, he was mislabeled as a problem child until we got to—we dug deeper into what was actually going on. He was being misdiagnosed, and once we got the diagnosis, we were able to work with the doctors, the teachers, the counselors to get him the proper education that he needed, because prior to that, he was being labeled as a bad child. And so once he was diagnosed, we got him on the proper medication, he turned into an honor roll student. So—and more recently, my two youngest had been diagnosed with asthma, and so they had been on a medication regime. My youngest has transitioned off of that. My oldest—well, my middle child—still has asthma, but he’s successful, and he’s in the Navy Junior ROTC program, and he drills with no problems.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: For military, every command has a family support group or a family readiness group—that’s a one-stop. If you’re unsure where to go, that’s a first stop. But then for Navy, we have Fleet and Family Support Center, and there’s a wealth of information in that program, and there are expertise within that organization that they can divvy you out to other organizations. But you also have online resources—Military OneSource is a good one—and you have so many organizations that are there to provide support. We volunteer with Operation Homefront, which provides support to wounded warriors and their families. So there’s a wealth of information out there; all you have to do is ask.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: The advice I have for parents is to ask the questions. No one’s going to care for your child more than you are. No one’s going to love them as much as you do, so ask the questions. Don’t be afraid to research. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know where to go.” And I think—I always say research on your own, because you have to trust your gut feeling and go with that gut feeling and just ask those questions.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: The advice I have for clinicians is to stop and listen. You know, we can give the—you know, you can give us the clinical term all day long, but these are—this is real life for us. These are our children that we’re dealing with. Listen to us. And again, if we have a gut feeling about it, listen to it and don’t dismiss it. And just really pay attention to our children. They’re not just a number; they’re our children. So really listen to us. Listen to our children.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: The advice I have for members of the community is to not judge. Again, we have so many beautiful children; they’re all beautiful, they’re all God’s creation. And don’t be so quick to judge. And don’t be so quick to—you know, I said judge—judge a book by its cover, because it’s so much going on inside of them. And then, if you don’t understand and you have questions, why not get involved? You know, we don’t just close ourselves off because we’re a military community. You can get involved. We have civilians involved with military programs all the time, so if you’re wondering, get involved.
(Edit/camera cut) Ms. Davis on camera. Ms. Davis: What I’d like to add is the conference is a beautiful experience for me. I learned so much. Even though I had a child, like I said, with a special need, and he’s an adult now, I didn’t know that I had two other children with a special health need. And so I’m very thankful that this conference is taking place and there are civilians here, and that people are wanting to know where they can go, wanting to know what’s going on with our children, and that they’re taking a special interest. And that—you know, you’re giving us the broad range of the medical terminology, and that’s beautiful, but what, you know, is really hitting home, I think, for the conference-goers is the personal experiences. You know, when you get to the real—what military families go through who have these children. That’s what really hits home.

Family Issues of Military Connected Children with Special Needs

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April 14-15 | Natcher Conference Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
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