United States Department of Defense, Military Health System
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Description of Program
The Military Health System is the enterprise within the United States Department of Defense that provides health care to active duty and retired U.S. Military personnel and their dependents. Its mission is to provide health support for the full range of military operations and sustain the health of all who are entrusted to MHS care.
Its primary mission is to maintain the health of military personnel, so they can carry out their military missions; and to deliver health care during wartime. Often described as the medical readiness mission, this effort involves medical testing and screening of recruits, emergency medical treatment of troops involved in hostilities, and the maintenance of physical standards of those in the armed services.
The MHS also provides, where space is available, health care to dependents of active duty service members, to retirees and their dependents, and to some former spouses. Such care has been made available since 1966, (with certain limitations and co-payments), through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) and its successor, TRICARE. In October 2001, TRICARE benefits were extended to retirees and their dependents aged 65 and over.