Health & Wellness

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

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

Health Care

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

Policy 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

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

Policy 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)
  • Group mental health offices with other services/programs so that it is less obvious a client is going to a building for mental health purposes
  • Fund research on the mental health of military youth

Alternative Care

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

Policy Recommendation

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

Special Needs and Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

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.

Policy Recommendations

  • Standardize the EFMP experience across installations and military branches, as recommended by the GAO
  • Ensure EFMP families and families with special needs and/or chronic conditions are given priority regarding scheduling health care appointments after relocation and colocated child care
  • 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 families relocate