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Army spouse urges support of bill to help autistic children

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Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2012 4:30 am

To the Editor:

As an Army wife, mother of two boys (one with autism), with a husband soon to deploy on his fourth combat tour in seven years, I take the promise of our leaders and lawmakers make to care for our military families here at home very seriously. And in my book, actions speak louder than words.

Today, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., introduced and passed an amendment to the Defense (Authorization) Bill that ensures that military children with autism and related disorders have access to medically recommended behavioral health treatments (specifically Applied Behavior Analysis) that have become the standard of care in addressing the seriously disabling disorders. I applaud the leadership of Sen. Gillibrand and the bipartisan effort that took place in Congress to address the needs of some of our most vulnerable military families.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison voted in support of this measure, and I am proud to call her my Texas senator. She saw thousands of military children in need, and took action.

However, I am disappointed in Sen. John Cornyn’s vote to deny the care military children with disabilities require.

Sen. Cornyn once said, “Supporting our men and women in uniform has always been my highest priority ... our veterans have given so much for our security and freedom. We must make sure they have the support, care and benefits they need and deserve.”

Sir, with all due respect, actions speak louder than words. As the defense bill heads to conference committee, I ask for your leadership and action to provide for the medical care our special kids need. Military families that deploy repeatedly to combat and serve this nation with honor and integrity, deserve nothing less.

Shelly Huhtanen

Fort Hood

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