Health & Wellness

The health and wellness of military families is central to sustaining the future of American defense capabilities and the All-Volunteer Force. The stress of frequent relocations, deployments, financial difficulties, and caregiving (for the wounded, ill, or disabled) can negatively impact the physical and mental health of military families.

Blue Star Families supports policies that would sustain and protect the health and wellness of our service members, veterans, and their families.

Health Care

Description:

Low-cost and quality health care is an increasingly important benefit for military families.

Recommendations:

  • Provide consistent, accessible, and high-quality health care for all service members, veterans, and their families
  • Increase access to civilian providers with military cultural competency

Mental Health

Description:

The stressors of the military lifestyle can contribute to adverse mental health outcomes among service members and their families.

Recommendations:

  • Change the military’s culture around mental health by (a) educating service members about the importance of tending to their psychological wellness, and (b) empowering service members to identify risk factors for depression, anxiety, PTSD,  and suicidal ideation
  • Increase access to mental health services via alternative hours (weeknights and weekends), and alternative delivery methods (e.g., telehealth)
  • Colocate mental health offices with other services/programs so that it's less obvious that a client is going to a building for mental health purposes
  • Fund research into the mental health of military youth

Alternative Care

Description:

Tricare does not currently cover chiropractic services, acupuncture, or other alternative therapies for military family members, retirees, or Tricare Reserve Select beneficiaries.

Recommendations:

  • Expand Tricare coverage for chiropractic services, acupuncture, and other alternative therapies to military family members, retirees, and Tricare Reserve Select beneficiaries.

Special Needs and EFMP

Description:

The challenges associated with the military lifestyle may be exacerbated by the unique circumstances of caring for a family member with special needs. Similarly, the challenges associated with caring for a family member with special needs may be exacerbated by the military lifestyle.

Recommendations:

  • Standardize the EFMP experience across installations and military branches, as recommended by the GAO
  • Ensure that EFMP families and families with special needs and/or chronic conditions are given priority regarding scheduling health appointments after relocation and colocated childcare
  • Enhance warm hand-offs of EFMP families from one duty station to the next
  • Fast-track referrals for specialists for EFMP families by not requiring a PCM referral for chronic conditions
  • Ensure that any specialist database is updated with new patient acceptance status before new duty station assignments for EFMP families, so as to avoid delays for support once these families relocate