Increasing Military Families’ Access to Counseling Services is Goal of New Sinema-Blunt Bill

Oct 20, 2021

Senators’ bipartisan COMFORT Act allows licensed Military and Family Life Counselors to work outside of their states, solving provider shortages and increasing access to care

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) introduced the bipartisan COMFORT Act to solve the current shortage of Military and Family Life Counselors and increase access to counseling services on military installations. The Senators’ bill allows for license portability for Military and Family Life Counselors, so counselors can work outside of the state in which they are licensed. 
“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. 
“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.”

Currently, there is a nation-wide shortage of behavioral health professionals, and the shortage is worse across military communities. To help meet the demand and solve the provider shortage, Sinema and Blunt’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 Military and Family Life Counselors increases access to care and the amount 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. 
Sinema and Blunt’s COMFORT Act is supported by the Healthcare Leadership Council and the National Military Family Association.