Camp Foster, Okinawa – Dr. Maisha Smith, one of two child clinical psychologists at the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, stepped up to the microphone at a town hall held here on Thursday night, saying that July We talked about injured wrists.
Because she needed surgery and didn’t receive timely treatment, she could suffer for the rest of her life, Smith said. Hmm.
“This leaves one active pediatric psychologist to meet the need for psychological assessments across the island,” she said. “Currently, my dog has better access to on-base health care than I do.”
Smith was one of more than 500 civilian personnel and officials who flocked to the base’s cinema to discuss recent changes to on-base medical care with Undersecretary of Defense Gilbert Cisneros Jr. , Undersecretary of Defense personnel and preparations, and Shireen Mullen, Secretary Assistant secretary. of defense for health problems.
City Hall drew more than 500 people following a stand-alone event at the Enlistment Club at Kadena Air Base on Wednesday. A similar meeting was held at the Sasebo naval base on Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main islands of the United States.
During both Okinawa events, officials spoke to dozens of civilians who had not found medical care available in Japanese hospitals. Members of the military stand up and say military readiness will be affected by the DHA’s decision to limit care at base treatment facilities for civilian employees not covered by Tricare Prime, the top military health plan. Stated.
Beginning January 1, many DOD civilian employees, their families, and some veterans will be limited to available appointments on the same day to address urgent medical needs, according to a decision announced last year by Heck. It has been. In October, he said those affected by the change should find medical care in Japanese communities.
Nearly a dozen civilians complained of staff shortages, long wait times, the refusal of Japanese health care providers to treat Americans, and exorbitant initial costs when that treatment became available. explained.
Their complaints echoed statements made at Yokota Air Force Base on Monday and at Camp Zama and Naval Base Yokosuka on Tuesday. The Yokosuka conference, like Foster’s conference, was marked by the audience’s outrage at the answers given by the vice minister and assistant vice minister.
Foster’s exchanges were at times acrimonious, with the audience laughing and shouting reprimands at Cisneros.
Executives who made similar statements at previous town halls did not offer specific solutions, but they used information gathered at the town halls to help the Pentagon seek to find medium- to long-term solutions to the crisis. He said he would bring it back to the working group.
He said everything within the law was being considered to address the issue. Last year, Heck said the DHA was mandated by Congress to prioritize the health care of active duty military personnel and their families over the care of civilian employees of the Department of Defense.
In Kadena, dozens of people lined up to question the DHA’s decision.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Brown, commander of Naha Naval Port in southern Okinawa, pleaded with Cisneros and Mullen to resolve the issue. Brown said his 30 percent of his staff are civilians and would have turned down jobs had they not been guaranteed access to medical care at military treatment facilities, he immediately withdrew the policy. asked to do.
“This is more important than policy. We are talking about projecting joint forces into the South Pacific. [Chinese army]said Brown. “There is no time for bureaucracy to solve such specific problems.”
Marisa Strickland, a Pentagon Educational Activities elementary school teacher and president of the American Educators Association Okinawa, said one of their members was denied inpatient treatment in a Japanese hospital after suffering a stroke. Stated.
Strickland said the pregnant teacher miscarried at 17 weeks after being denied prenatal care at a U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa and a hospital in Japan.
“These are just a few of many examples,” she said. “During COVID, we were considered mission essential.