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Goal: 15,000 Progress: 12,223
Sponsored by: The Veterans Site

For years the Department of Defense (DoD) has refused to acknowledge the validity of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in treating the symptoms of autism. With over 23,000 military dependents living on the spectrum, this means restricted access to the most valuable treatment currently available. Already burdened by the constant moving and social turmoil of military life, families must also pay out of pocket for this costly yet vital therapy.

Rather than embrace change, the military's primary health care program, TRICARE, has imposed a series of even more restrictive guidelines, all while DoD lawyers continue to argue against covering ABA, citing "a lack of evidence of effectiveness." Medical professionals and organizations agree, however, that ABA is the most effective treatment available, helping those with autism lead happy and productive lives. Children tend to respond best to the therapy at a younger age, so as the DoD stalls and delays, families are losing precious time to help their loved ones.

With the world's largest, best-equipped, and best-financed military, such practices are unacceptable. An effective military starts with the people. Let's give military families the benefits they have earned.

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Dear Dr. Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs:

As the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense of matters of health, you have an obligation to keep our nation's military healthy.

And you are failing.

For years the Department of Defense has refused to acknowledge the valuable service provided by Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in treating the symptoms of autism. Medical consensus depicts ABA as the gold standard of autism therapies, yet TRICARE provides inadequate coverage and imposes unreasonable bureaucratic obstacles, leaving military families to incur debt trying to cover the costly yet necessary treatment.

It is time to live up to your obligation. The DoD should immediately:

  1. Recognize ABA as a "medical therapy." Current TRICARE policy labels ABA as "educational intervention" and places restrictive caps on who can receive benefits and how much they can receive. Even the federal courts recognized the misnomer, calling TRICARE's designation "arbitrary and capricious." Words matter.
  2. Fulfill the congressional mandate for a pilot program. The late-2012 order from Congress would establish a model for the future while providing immediate relief for the nation's veterans and their families. Several months overdue, the pilot should be launched immediately with clear and concise communication to the families affected.
  3. Reverse ABA cutbacks. The recently announced changes to ABA policy impose impractical obstacles to proper treatment and, given the timing of the changes, demonstrate an unwillingness to work with the families who are only seeking access to the benefits they earned.

The health and well-being of military families has a direct impact on military readiness. By continuing to stall on this matter, the DoD not only betrays the nation's military, but also puts the nation at risk.

Please do the right thing.

Petition Signatures


Aug 31, 2014 Natisha Reed
Aug 31, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 31, 2014 Eliza Duncan
Aug 30, 2014 John Stoddard
Aug 30, 2014 Beverly Boniewicz Autism is a difficult life time struggle for the person affected and the family that cares for them . We live it everyday !
Aug 30, 2014 Jessica Purser
Aug 30, 2014 EDITH LOBROT
Aug 30, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 30, 2014 Richard Neal
Aug 29, 2014 Michelle Macinnis
Aug 29, 2014 mia correia
Aug 28, 2014 Mary Anne Kornbau
Aug 28, 2014 pat schuth my husband spent 4 1/2 yrs in veit nam.. he did not receive all the medals he deserve
Aug 28, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 27, 2014 carly garcia
Aug 27, 2014 carly garcia
Aug 27, 2014 Sheri Denney This shouldn't even be an issue. Military dependents should have the best treatments available. I bet if a TRICARE persons child had Autism, they would get the treatment.
Aug 25, 2014 Kathleen Mitchum
Aug 25, 2014 Donna Gleaves
Aug 25, 2014 Cathy Thomas
Aug 25, 2014 Chelia Tuschhoff
Aug 25, 2014 bryan rolfes
Aug 24, 2014 Christy Lentz
Aug 24, 2014 Tammy Britton
Aug 24, 2014 Dezira Carpentier
Aug 24, 2014 Nancy Cunningham
Aug 24, 2014 Heather Morningstar
Aug 24, 2014 Ashlee Middleton
Aug 24, 2014 Wren Schwind This shouldn't even be an issue. Military families need these services for their family members with autism. Please fix this now
Aug 24, 2014 Arthur Penney
Aug 24, 2014 Sherri Stevens Where as this syndrome effects at least 1 in 88 children and their parents have made the ultimate sacrifice don't they deserve to have therapy and resources that other children have access to? Please give them coverage.
Aug 24, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2014 DOUGLAS DURHAM
Aug 24, 2014 Marcie Campbell
Aug 24, 2014 Jessica Schugel As a military spouse and mom, this is outrageous! DoD should be ashamed
Aug 24, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2014 Joann Borgers
Aug 24, 2014 Sandra maguire
Aug 24, 2014 Pamela Bowman Everyone should have this coverage I have a grandson that has aspergers and it reallt helped him
Aug 24, 2014 Heather Eddy When my son was diagnosed while we were in the USAF, we were told he'd need ABA therapy and we'd have to pay out of pocket. I don't want other families faced with that ...it was either feed our family or get him ABA therapy. It's not fair.
Aug 24, 2014 Angela Wilson
Aug 24, 2014 Anna Hemmer I work with and have a nephiew with autism and I know the therapies that are needes are not cheap. These men and women sacrafice thier lives for our country. They have earned the right to provide for their kids worry free.
Aug 24, 2014 michele Obryan
Aug 24, 2014 Colleen Kelty
Aug 24, 2014 Hollie Luig
Aug 24, 2014 sharon Stender
Aug 24, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2014 Mitzi Sneary
Aug 24, 2014 (Name not displayed) Please help autism therapy.
Aug 24, 2014 Karen Black

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