After years of repeated combat deployments, it is a moral imperative to provide service members and their families with effective mental health care.
One of the consequences of over 13 years of war is demand for mental health services that continues to outstrip supply. Additionally, a recent RAND report finds that only a small percent of existing providers deliver evidence based, culturally competent care.
We believe the need for behavioral health care will continue to grow over the next several years and we encourage policy makers and our elected officials to seek innovative solutions to address the provider shortage and enhance the quality of care delivered to service members and their families.
- Maintaining zero out of pocket costs for military families seeking behavioral health care, as well as the referral/authorization waiver for the first 8 behavioral health care visits.
- Tracking military family member suicides to assess the magnitude and trend of this problem.
- Educating service members and their families on mental health care benefits and what to expect when seeking care.
- Offering federal loan forgiveness to military spouses and others who enter the mental health profession and actively serve military families.
- Reimbursing TRICARE mental health providers at higher rates to attract additional civilian providers to the TRICARE network.
- Providing a tax credit for military spouses to relicense after a military move to offset the out of pocket costs associated with relicensure.
- Facilitating licensure and employment for military spouses and veterans who work in the mental health field and serve our Nation’s service members and families.
- Funding high quality programs to educate mental health professionals on the military lifestyle and the unique stressors military families face so they can provide culturally competent care.
- Evaluating mental health care programs for effectiveness.
Given the stressors that service members and military families have faced over the past 13 years, we assert that Congress and DoD must take the lead in addressing shortcomings of our Nation’s mental health care system.
- Our advocacy efforts are focused on expanding access to milspouses pursuing mental health careers: Spouse Education + Professional Support=Strong Military Families
- Association hosts a panel event on Capitol Hill, Growing Our Own – Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Military Families, to increase awareness of challenges military families face in obtaining mental health care, and to advocate for innovative solutions to the shortage of culturally competent mental health providers available to the military community.
- Association supports Caring for America’s Heroes Act, introduced by Senator Roy Blunt, and co-sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow and Jerry Moran. This legislation would eliminate TRICARE’s cap on inpatient behavioral health care for military spouses, children, and retirees.
- Association supports Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act, introduced by Senator Joe Donnelly. This legislation would standardize military mental health screening across all services and all components. It would also improve the tools used for screening and treatment.
- Association supports the Department of Defense Suicide Tracking Act, introduced by Representative Niki Tsongas. This legislation would require DoD to establish a process to track, retain, and assess suicide data for military family members, and establish a standardized suicide tracking policy for the Guard and Reserves.
- Association participates in a panel for Mental Health First Aid launch event.
- Association supports the Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members (MEPS) Act, introduced by Representatives Glenn Thompson and Tim Ryan. This legislation would establish a baseline mental health assessment when an individual enters military service so any subsequent evaluations can more accurately determine whether an issue is service connected.