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On October 23, 2019, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Martha McSally (R-AZ), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to expand eating disorder treatment access for U.S. service members, veterans and their dependents.

Studies have found that 16 percent of female veterans have or have had an eating disorder and 20 percent of female adolescent dependents of a service member are at risk for an eating disorder. Eating disorders have the second highest mortality rates of any mental health illness, due to physical risks and elevated risk of suicide, second only to substance use disorders.

The Supporting Eating Disorders Recovery Through Vital Expansion (SERVE) Act would expand access to treatment for eating disorders under TRICARE and increase mental health early identification within the Armed Forces.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Clarify that under TRICARE, eating disorders treatment shall be provided to beneficiaries without age limitations when medically necessary.
  • Identify eating disorders as a health condition to be treated and ensure that facilities are available to treat these disorders for all service members.
  • Require mental health early identification training be taken by commanders or supervisory personnel, as many are currently not provided the resources to help identify signs and symptoms of mental illnesses like eating disorders.

The SERVE Act is also cosponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

Bill text of the legislation is available HERE.

At Kantor & Kantor, LLP, our team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to getting you the eating disorder treatment you or your loved one, especially U.S. Service members, veterans and their dependents. If you or someone you know was denied insurance coverage benefits for an eating disorder, please contact us for a free consultation. We understand, and we can help!