Cynthia Wagner knows all too well the struggles military spouses face.
As a military spouse herself, for close to twenty years, Wagner says being part of the military community sparked the idea to showcase the struggles faced by many military spouses on a national level.
She is aiming to launch “Military spouses talk to their MPs about military family issues’ week this year.
Looking for Military Spouses
“It doesn’t matter if a group of spouses are chatting in Shearwater or Val-Cartier or Edmonton – the issues are common across the country. Lack of access to family doctors is a big issue. Lack of access to affordable housing and having to sell at a loss when being posted out is very common,” says Wagner. “Spouses doing the administrative burden of dealing with Veterans Affairs is a big issue. I hear the same things come up again and again, and informing decision-makers about these common issues is the whole point of this exercise.”
Wagner took her idea and posted a message in a variety of Facebook groups involving military spouses and family members to gather as much interest across the country as possible.
Members of Parliament are heading back to Ottawa at the end of January, and Wagner is hoping to co-ordinate meeting with MPs before they return.
“I have quite a nice number of people so far who want to get involved, but the more, the merrier,” says Wagner. “I think it is a reasonable goal to have twenty or so spouses meet with a dozen MPs this first year.”
Interested participants will receive a list of discussion points that will be ranked by importance, and then the group will develop a top three list to bring forward.
The immediate goal is to give policy makers concrete and specific ideas for changes and to set-up a forum and framework for military spouses and policy makers to have this discussion on a structured basis.
“I am not one hundred per cent sure what everybody is facing, but the Veterans Affairs backlog, access to family doctors, access to services for special-needs kids, and lack of employment for spouses are huge issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if these issues touch every military family across the country in some way or another,” says Wagner.
Wagner is still looking for military spouses to join this initiative. To get more information or to kickstart a conversation with your local MP, interested members of the military community can contact Wagner here.