Sens. Ossoff, Moran introduce bipartisan NDAA amendment to order Department of Defense report to Congress on military mental health care referral policies
A national study reported that nearly 1 in 4 active-duty servicemembers showed signs of a mental health condition
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is working across the aisle to strengthen oversight of mental health treatment in the armed forces.
This week, Sens. Ossoff and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced the Servicemember Mental Health Support Act as a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to strengthen oversight of Department of Defense (DoD) policies for referring active-duty personnel to outside mental health care specialists.
Active duty servicemembers may seek mental health treatment at a military facility without receiving a referral, but they are not permitted to access private care, such as telehealth sessions, without first obtaining a referral from a doctor on post. However, senior enlisted personnel across the armed forces have reported that many active-duty members are struggling to receive care in a timely manner.
The bill would require the DoD to submit a report to Congress that contains recommendations for improving servicemembers’ access to mental health care specialists, such as group counselors or psychiatrists, with hopes of increasing enrollment in these services and ensuring servicemembers receive the timely support they need and deserve.
“Military servicemembers shouldn’t have to wait and cut through red tape to access mental health care,” Sen. Ossoff said. “That is why I’m bringing Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen oversight of mental health care services for members of the Armed forces.”
The Servicemember Mental Health Support Act would require the DoD to submit this report to Congress within 180 days of this legislation passing.
According to a 2022 DoD study, suicides among active duty servicemembers increased by more than 40% between 2015 and 2020. A similar study reported that nearly 1 in 4 members showed signs of a mental health condition.
Sen. Ossoff continues pushing to improve military families’ access to vital mental health care services.
Earlier this year, Sens. Ossoff and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced a bipartisan bill to cut red tape that would expand access to mental health services for servicemembers in Georgia.
Sen. Ossoff also partnered with Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) to introduce the bipartisan Military Families Mental Health Services Act to allow the Secretary of Defense to waive out-of-pocket expenses for military families seeking mental health treatment.
Click here to read the bipartisan Servicemember Mental Health Support Act amendment to the NDAA.