Feb 3 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel subcommittee, reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to expand access to eating disorder treatments for U.S. servicemembers and their families.

Studies show that women in the armed forces are disproportionately impacted by eating disorders, affecting military readiness and health. Further, 20 percent of female adolescent dependents of a servicemember 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 prevalence of eating disorders among servicemembers and their families is unacceptable,"said Senator Tillis. "Congress must provide our men and women in uniform with the right tools to combat eating disorders, and I'm proud to reintroduce the SERVE Act with Senator Shaheen to improve access and care for those affected."

“Our servicemembers deserve the highest quality health care to help heal both physical and mental wounds,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to reintroduce legislation that recognizes our servicemembers’ mental health matters just as much as physical health by expanding TRICARE coverage of eating disorder treatments for servicemembers, retirees and their dependents. We owe a great debt to our military for the sacrifices that come with service, and offering them the assistance they need to stay healthy must be our top priority.”

“The EDC is thrilled to see the Senate version of the Supporting Eating Disorders Recovery Through Vital Expansion (SERVE) Act introduced today in the United States Senate,” said EDC Board President Chase Bannister, MDIV, MSW, LCSW, CEDS. “This legislation will help military family members access the eating disorders care they need and deserve, and require the Secretary of Defense, DoD, and VA to take steps to improve the identification and treatment of servicemembers affected by eating disorders.”

Specifically, the Supporting Eating Disorders Recovery Through Vital Expansion (SERVE) Act would:

·       Clarify that under TRICARE, eating disorders treatment shall be provided to beneficiaries without age limitations when medically necessary.

·       Require the Secretary of Defense to take steps to identify, treat, and rehabilitate servicemembers affected by eating disorders.

·       Direct the Department of Defense to establish clinical practice guidelines on eating disorder treatment.

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