2013 Association Legislative and Policy Priorities
We remain a Nation at war. Military families have proven to be strong and resourceful, as we’ve navigated the uncertainties of more than a decade of war. Unfortunately, the challenges aren’t over. Deployments will remain unpredictable. Threatened downsizing applies to the number of service members, not the number of missions we’ll undertake. Families worry about how the years of stress and separation will affect their family relationships, the health of their service members, and their children’s future. Added to their concern is the doubt about whether the programs, resources, and benefits they’ve come to rely on will remain available to address emerging challenges.
The National Military Family Association believes the only way to guarantee the readiness of our force is to take care of our people. Our Nation’s leaders must provide robust and responsive benefits and support: quality, accessible health care; behavioral health support; spouse career opportunities; good schools for military children; quality, affordable child care; a secure retirement; and unwavering support for those wounded, widowed, or orphaned. Military families should be able to access support no matter where they live. Effective support for military families must involve a broad network of government agencies, community groups, businesses, and concerned citizens.
Our Association’s highest priority will be to fight for military families. We will fight to ensure programs and benefits critical to the wellbeing of military families are authorized, funded, and implemented to maintain their readiness and allow them to meet the challenges of military life. We will fight to protect families from destructive budget cuts. We will fight to relieve the emotional stress of military families as service members respond to crises worldwide.
We ask Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) to:
- Ensure families of all seven uniformed services have timely access to high quality, affordable health care and a robust TRICARE benefit.
- Enhance military families’ access to the medical and non-medical counseling they need to recover from the stress of long years at war. The progress made in lessening the stigma associated with seeking behavioral health care is threatened if service members and families cannot get help when needed.
- Mandate tracking and reporting on military family member suicides. Anecdotal reports indicate the number of military family suicides is growing. We cannot address the problem until we know its extent.
- Ensure that a robust, responsive system of reintegration support for families still trying to reconnect or deal with the effects of wounds, injuries, or illnesses is accessible across Services, components, and geographic locations.
- Provide equal eligibility of benefits for caregivers of wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans across all seven Uniformed Services and from all wars. VA and DoD caregiver benefits don’t mesh and many caregivers lose the support they need just when they need it the most.
- Ensure better cooperation and accountability between the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs at the highest levels in the support of transitioning wounded, ill, and injured service members and caregivers. The lack of a seamless transition between agencies still exists and must be corrected.
- Protect the commissary benefit by continuing the annual appropriation to support the system at its current level. Commissaries provide an important benefit for military families as well as a good deal for the taxpayer. Oppose attempts to consolidate the commissary and exchange system.
We ask Congress to:
- Pass the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act and the Defense and Military Construction Appropriations bills by October 1, 2013, to eliminate the uncertainty faced by the military community this year.
- End the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) dollar for dollar offset of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments for surviving spouses.
- Increase the level of Department of Education Impact Aid funding to meet the Federal obligation to support school districts educating military children and continue to fund the DoD supplemental impact aid and grant program. Impact Aid funding has not kept pace with rising education costs.
We ask DoD to:
- Expand the opportunity for spouses to attend transition classes with service members and tailor information to address family transition issues.
- Implement quickly the new pilot program to provide Applied Behavior Analysis to eligible TRICARE beneficiaries.
Download our printable PDF version of our 2013 Association Legislative and Policy Priorities.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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