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Washington–Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and a group of their colleagues to send a letter to Dr. David Smith, Acting Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, and Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, Director of the Defense Health Agency, to urge the Department of Defense to implement provisions secured by the senators in the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorize expanding eating disorder treatment coverage to TRICARE beneficiaries. 

The senators wrote, “As you know, service members and military families are affected by eating disorders at elevated rates compared to the civilian population due to risk factors unique to their military experience. Studies show that diagnoses of eating disorders among military personnel rose 26 percent from 2013 to 2016. Moreover, 21 percent of children and 26 percent of spouses of service members are symptomatic of an eating disorder. Additionally, the suicide rate for those affected by eating disorders is 23 times higher than the rate for the general population, which is particularly concerning given that service members already experience heightened rates of suicide.” 

The senators went on to underscore that provisions in the FY22 NDAA authorize the Secretary of Defense to expand and build infrastructure to identify, treat and rehabilitate service members and military families affected by eating disorders. The senators pointed out that while the FY22 NDAA expands this coverage for active-duty military families, it should be further expanded to include retiree families, which is especially critical amid the mental health crisis impacting American families. 

Full text of the letter is available here. 

In addition to Feinstein, Shaheen and Tillis, the letter was also signed by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).