Senators Seek to end Undue Discrimination Against Military Dependents who Seek Mental Health Treatment (militarytimes.com)

 

When dependent children of military members join the armed services themselves, their dependent medical records are being merged into their servicemember record, which is created as soon as they enter boot camp. This creates a problem for any individual who has been treated for mental health conditions as a child, because the military doesn't generally accept anyone with a history of mental illness, regardless of severity or cause. Even the simple act of speaking to a counselor after a move or parent's deployment can be enough to disqualify a person from service.

The DoD has encouraged military families to seek treatment for children affected by wartime deployments since the early 2000s. This has given countless children of deployed servicemembers the opportunity to seek help when struggling with an absent parent, but it's affecting those individuals' ability to follow in their parents' footsteps. It's also possibly a legal or ethical violation of federal health care privacy laws.

Military Times has a multi-part series of articles following the struggles of the De La Rosa family as Army Lt. Col. Rudy De La Rosa's daughters Samantha and Juliet attempted to join the Air Force. After seeking counseling due to Lt. Col. De La Rosa's multiple Afghanistan deployments, Juliet was involuntarily discharged from Air Force basic training in 2016. She requested and was denied a waiver because her dependent medical record, the record of a 13 year old child, was used to determine her fitness to serve as an adult.

“Children who face the stress of parents being deployed, moving frequently and other sacrifices should never be penalized for seeking mental health care.” - Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Two senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis), introduced legislation last month to end "undue discrimination" against children of military members. The proposed law would not only require the armed services to consider more fairly the circumstances leading to a military dependent child's mental health treatment when considering a waiver for service, it would also require the services to review records to determine how many military dependents have been denied entry or separated over the last five years because of information placed in their medical records when they were minors.

 

For more details on the story of the De La Rosa family, check out the series of articles on Military Times, here, here, and here.

 


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