DoD: Military Members Will Pay for Their Own Readiness
On May 23, the Trump Administration released its budget proposal for FY 2018, which will begin on October 1. The budget includes proposed funding levels for every government agency, including the Department of Defense (DoD), and reflects the policies and priorities of the new Administration.
As expected, the budget proposal includes significant increases for the DoD—a total of $639 billion, which is $54 billion more than was requested for this year. The increased spending reflects widespread concern that 15 years of war and a sustained high tempo of operations have depleted military readiness. The Administration argues that funding needs to be dedicated to modernization and training to ensure service members are prepared to do their vital work defending our country.
As military family advocates (and military family members ourselves), we strongly agree it’s imperative that service members receive the tools and training they need to be ready. However, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect military families to pay for their own readiness. The proposed DoD budget does just that—it takes money from military families’ pockets and plows the funds back into acquisitions and modernization.
Military members are being asked to defend our country with their lives, and with the money they earn each month.
Here’s what we know about the proposed DoD budget:
- A 2.1% military pay increase, which is still below expected civilian wage growth;
Increased fees and pharmacy co-pays for working-age retirees and families using TRICARE Standard/Select;
An average 3.2% increase in Basic Allowance for Housing rates, which will cover 96% of average housing costs. Families will pay the extra out-of-pocket;
A slight decrease in funding for child care – the program military families tell us they need most.
At the same time, the Administration budget includes steep cuts to social service programs, which many military families rely on. Programs targeted for cuts include:
Medicaid, which is a vital resource for vulnerable special needs military families, as well as families transitioning out of the military. The budget would reduce Medicaid by $600 billion over ten years;
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps). The President’s budget cuts SNAP by 25%, risking the health and well-being of junior military families, veterans, and retirees who rely on it for support;
Impact Aid, which supports public schools educating military-connected children. The budget eliminates the Federal Properties section of Impact Aid, reducing funding for affected school districts by $68 million.
We commend the Administration for recognizing the need to invest in military readiness. However, family readiness is a vital component of military readiness. Asking military families to shoulder the cost of their own readiness, while slashing social service programs they rely on for support is not the right way forward. We urge Congress to reject budget proposals that undercut military family well-being and readiness.
Posted May 24, 2017