The passage of the National Defense Authorization Act will make it easier for active duty personnel and veterans to receive counseling via video teleconference through something called telehealth counseling, a move that Gen. Peter Chiarelli is calling a “big victory” for the Army.

“It’s the biggest step forward we’ve seen in two years,” the former Army vice chief of staff told The Army Times. “For me, it is huge. We have just to take advantage of it.”

A provision of the legislation will remove the requirement for health care providers to be licensed in the same state as the clients/patients they are treating, which should help military personnel living literally anywhere to get the treatment they need for mental and behavioral problems. Chiarelli told The Army Times that at some remote posts, it is difficult to get counseling to the soldiers.

“I find when I get closer to large metropolitan areas, I don’t have as many problems,” Chiarelli said. “But when I go to the Fort Stewarts, when I go to the Fort Braggs, when I go to the Fort Hoods, my ability to attract a shortage population in society is difficult. But we’re working very, very hard to get everything we possibly can to hire those folks.”

But Gary Capistrant, senior director of public policy at the American Telemedicine Association, said that the telehealth approach is limited under state laws that require providers to hold licenses in the states in which care is received.

“The requirement was for a provider to have multiple licenses, which can take months,” Capistrant said. “It may be you just have one visit with a person in a particular state, and you’re not going to go through that for one person.”

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Read articles about the counseling profession’s bouts with licensure portability here, here and here.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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