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Goal: 25,000 Progress: 20,142
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


Feb 8, 2016 Jennifer Elderd
Feb 8, 2016 Sara Drumwright
Feb 6, 2016 manuel mena
Feb 6, 2016 Cristina Alexandre
Feb 6, 2016 Linda Honadel
Feb 6, 2016 R Christine Bellah
Feb 5, 2016 Hope Narey
Feb 3, 2016 Gregg Flanegan
Feb 3, 2016 Suzanne Flanegan
Feb 2, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Feb 2, 2016 Linda L.-Schaeffer
Feb 1, 2016 Gilma Sanchez
Jan 31, 2016 Roger Glover
Jan 30, 2016 Carol Lowery
Jan 30, 2016 giuliana donadio
Jan 28, 2016 Jan Marek
Jan 28, 2016 William Thomas
Jan 28, 2016 Caroline Broughton
Jan 26, 2016 Douglas Olson
Jan 26, 2016 Doug Rank
Jan 25, 2016 Kim Reinagle
Jan 25, 2016 ida olsson
Jan 24, 2016 Barbara King
Jan 24, 2016 Wilbur Miller
Jan 23, 2016 Stephanie Betts
Jan 23, 2016 Shirley Harris
Jan 22, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jan 22, 2016 Magdalini T.
Jan 21, 2016 Awilda Rivera
Jan 21, 2016 Samuel J. Venturo
Jan 21, 2016 Donna Bradley
Jan 20, 2016 Amanda Ault
Jan 19, 2016 Christine Williams
Jan 18, 2016 M B
Jan 18, 2016 Carola Roy
Jan 18, 2016 Debi Lawson
Jan 18, 2016 Virginia Jones
Jan 18, 2016 Nandi van Tonder
Jan 16, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jan 15, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jan 15, 2016 Janice Geist Please do not deny our veterans anything to which they are entitled to. It is criminal to deny them anything.
Jan 15, 2016 Joan DeLauro
Jan 14, 2016 Heather McKnight
Jan 14, 2016 Rosane Farias
Jan 13, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jan 13, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jan 13, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jan 13, 2016 Harmen Eijzenga
Jan 12, 2016 Maria Sepulveda-Cabrera
Jan 12, 2016 Deanna Donovan

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