May 15 2019

Mast, Moulton Introduce SERVE Act

Veterans Team Up To Help Members of The Military and Their Families Seek Treatment For Eating Disorders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressmen Brian Mast (FL-18) and Seth Moulton (MA-6) today introduced the Supporting Eating Disorders Recovery through Vital Expansion (SERVE) Act of 2019. If passed, the bill would ensure TRICARE, the military’s health insurance program, provides members of the military and their families with comprehensive treatment for eating disorders.

“Serving in the military takes a serious toll on the mental and physical health of everyone who puts on the uniform,” Rep. Mast said. “Expanding access to treatment facilities and improving the way we take care of servicemembers is critical to making sure our brothers and sisters in arms receive the best care our country has to offer.”

“Servicemembers and their families deserve the best possible health care, and it’s up to Congress to make that happen,” Rep. Moulton said. “It is hard to talk about eating disorders and mental health, and especially hard within the military community. We hope leadership from Congress on the SERVE Act starts a broader conversation that helps people seek and receive help.”

Specifically, the SERVE Act would eliminate age restrictions on receiving eating disorders treatment for military spouses and children, remove barriers to treatment at all levels of care, and encourage training and resources for commanding officers and supervisors to help identify the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and other mental illnesses.

“As a former servicemember and current military spouse with a history of anorexia and bulimia, I have experienced the challenges that the military faces in wanting to understand the complexity of treating this illness with no concept of where to start,” Chandler Rand, who served in as a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps, said. “The SERVE Act will help guide our military in supporting the recovery process for active duty personnel and their families wherein eating disorders are highly prevalent.”

“Military members and their families have higher prevalence rates of eating disorders than the civilian population estimated up to 7-8% of servicemembers affected by this serious mental illness,” the Eating Disorders Coalition said. “Particularly, research shows that 34% of female active-duty servicemembers and 20% of female adolescent dependents are at risk of an eating disorder, and 16% of female veterans are affected by an eating disorder.”

Mast and Moulton’s bill earned the support of the following organizations:

  • Walden Behavioral Care
  • Center for Discovery
  • Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness
  • Eating Disorders Coalition
  • Residential Eating Disorders Consortium

Eating disorders affect 30 million Americans during their lifetime and have the second highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, second to opioid abuse.