Military Kids, Teens Can Now Access Free Telehealth Counseling

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Children in attendance at the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade wave flags.
Children in attendance at the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade wave flags and cheer as the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard marches past on Constitution Avenue in Washington, May 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan)

A new Military OneSource rule allows military kids and teens to access free non-medical counseling via telehealth as an alternative to in-person visits

The change, announced Tuesday, is aimed at helping kids start or keep up with their mental health appointments during novel coronavirus-related lockdowns.

In the past, telehealth was available only to adult users of the Military OneSource benefit, which connects eligible users with 12 free non-medical counseling visits per authorization. Users under 18 were previously limited to in-person support.

"Beginning March 24, Military OneSource will offer non-medical counseling video sessions for children and youth who may feel overwhelmed by the COVID-19 outbreak," the announcement states.

Pentagon officials said they are looking to the counseling appointments and other resources offered through Military OneSource to help military families cope with the ongoing uncertainty during the pandemic.

"We are working hard to provide timely and accurate updates and helpful resources for our service members and their families," Kim Joiner, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, said in a release. "Our families can feel confident about finding official information and guidance on our websites and social media platforms."

The change to telehealth counseling comes just ahead of the annual Month of the Military Child, observed in April and typically marked with special events on bases worldwide. Plans for most of those festivities are on hold due to the virus.

Related: Celebrate Month of the Military Child with Miltiary.com

Military OneSource offers non-medical counseling services to active duty-members and families in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps; Guard and Reserve members; Guard and Reserve families members during or immediately following federal activation; members of the Coast Guard and their families serving on Title 10 orders with the Navy; certain survivors; transitioning troops and families for 365 days after their final-out date; and some others. Full eligibility rules can be seen on the Military OneSource website.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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