Increasing access to counseling services for military families is goal of new bill by lawmakers

Veteran's Generic Graphic

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) introduced the bipartisan COMFORT Act to solve the current shortage of Military and Family Life Counselors (MFLCs) and increase access to counseling services on military installations. The senators’ bill allows for license portability for MFLCs, so counselors can work outside of the state in which they are licensed.

“Families are the backbone of our military,” said Blunt. “We need to do everything we can to ensure they have the support they need to manage the unique challenges that come with military life. The Military and Family Life Counseling Program is an important resource to meet the mental and behavioral health needs of military families, especially in rural and underserved areas. This bipartisan bill will improve and expand access to care by making it easier for MFLC professionals to render services in areas where they are needed most.”

“Military families make incredible sacrifices for our country – and their frequent moves, long deployments, and intense training can cause extreme stress. We’re increasing access to Military and Family Life Counselors because it’s our duty to ensure military families have access to services to help them navigate the demands of military life,” said Sinema. 

Currently, there is a nationwide shortage of behavioral health professionals, and the shortage is worse across military communities. To help meet the demand and solve the provider shortage, Blunt and Sinema’s COMFORT Act allows the Department of Defense to hire licensed behavioral health counselors to serve military installations from a broader applicant pool outside of the state a base is located in. Allowing for license portability among MFLCs increases access to care and the number of services offered, and it will allow the Department of Defense to surge counselors to locations in response to local traumatic events, natural disasters, or deployments. 

Blunt and Sinema’s COMFORT Act is supported by the Healthcare Leadership Council and the National Military Family Association.