President Obama Signs FY14 NDAA

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 on December 26, 2013. The Senate and House approved the bill before they left for holiday recess. The compromise bill authorizes $552.1 billion in spending for national defense and an additional $80.7 billion for foreign military operations, including Afghanistan. The base budget is unchanged from the 2013 bill, but war spending is $7.8 billion lower.

According to the press release from the House Armed Services Committee this legislation is substantially based on two bills: (1) H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY14 which passed the House on June 14, 2013; and (2) S.1197, a product of the Senate Armed Services Committee which passed out of committee on the same day. Because passing this legislation before the end of the calendar year is vital, these two products were merged through a series of negotiations at all levels of the House and Senate. Negotiators also considered, and in many cases included, a number of proposals offered by members of both parties that were intended for consideration by the full Senate.

Our Association Government Relations staff examined the legislation and identified provisions that are pertinent to military families.

Our Association appreciated the inclusion of a request for a report on suicides or attempts at suicide by military family members. We consider this report essential as our country evaluates the long-term effects of over 12 years of war on military families. We are concerned that military and veteran families were not previously included when examining suicides. We have no data showing whether families are also experiencing a rise in suicides and outpacing their civilian counterparts. Therefore, we recommended Congress require a report on the number of family members who committed suicide, made a suicide attempt, or reported suicidal thoughts.

Pay and Compensation

  • The NDAA supports current law, which is intended to ensure pay for our troops keeps pace with the civilian sector, but provides the President with latitude to make exceptions by Executive Order. President Obama has notified Congress that he intends to use his authority to set the 2014 military pay increase at 1 percent.

Family Readiness

  • Sec. 554 – Authorizes an addition $5 million for Special Operations Command to conduct up to three pilot programs to assess the feasibility and benefits of providing family support activities for the immediate family members of those in Special Forces Command.

Education of Military Children

  • Sec. 551 – Provides $25 million in financial assistance for local school districts that serve the children of the military and Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees.
  • Sec. 552 – Provides $5 million in financial assistance for local school districts that serve military children with severe disabilities.

Reserve Component

  • Sec. 511 – Addresses suicide prevention efforts for members of the Reserve Component calling for improved outreach under DoD suicide prevention and resilience programs and inclusion in the DoD community partnerships pilot program authorized in the FY13 NDAA.
  • Sec. 513 -Limitation on cancellation of deployment of Reserve Component units within 180 days of scheduled deployment. The deployment of a unit of a Reserve Component may not be cancelled during the 180-day period ending on the date on which the unit is otherwise scheduled for deployment without the approval, in writing, of the Secretary of Defense.

Wounded Warriors

  • Sec. 521 – Calls for provision of information under the Transition Assistance Program about disability-related employment and education protections.
  • Sec. 525 – Calls for provision of military records to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in an electronic format.
  • Sec. 526 – Calls for a review of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES)
  • Sec. 702 - As part of the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP), DoD may extend the TAMP coverage for covered individuals for an additional 180 days for mental health care provided through telemedicine.
  • Sec. 703 - Calls for the DoD and VA to jointly develop and implement a comprehensive policy on improvements to the care, management, and transition of recovering members of the Armed Forces with urotrauma, which is severe trauma to the sexual organs and genitourinary system.
  • Sec. 704 – Calls for a pilot program on investigational treatment for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Education

  • Sec. 471 – Defines eligibility requirements  of educational institutions that provide higher education, certification and training programs or vocational programs, for those using education funds provided by DoD ( i.e. Tuition Assistance or My Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA).)

Health Care

  • Sec. 701 –Authorizes a one-time opt-in to TRICARE Prime for retirees who are eligible for TRICARE Prime and are affected by the elimination of some TRICARE Prime Service Areas.
  • Sec. 725 – Calls for a report on the TRICARE recovery audit program and the availability of compounded pharmaceuticals.
  • Sec. 712 – Authorizes a pilot program on increased third-party collection reimbursements in Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs).

Behavioral Health

  • Sec. 574 – Calls for a report on the use of determination of personality disorder or adjustment disorder as a basis to separate members from the Armed Forces.

Survivor Benefits

  • Sec. 633 - Calls for improved assistance for Gold Star spouses and other dependents in the days following a death and in understanding their benefits. Also calls for improved training for casualty assistance officers.

Support for the Families of the Incarcerated or Separated

  • Sec. 652 – Calls for a study on the merits and feasibility of providing transitional compensation and other transitional benefits to dependents of members separated for violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Base Realignment and Closure

  • Section 2711 – Prohibits DoD from conducting an additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.

Installation and Housing Security

  • Sec. 584 – Authorizes DoD to conduct a review of security measures on United States military installations, specifically with regard to access to barracks, temporary lodging facilities, and multi-family residences on military installations, for the purpose of ensuring the safety of member of the Armed Forces and their dependents who reside on military installations.

There is an extensive section of the FY14 NDAA addressing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. We will provide an article on that section in the new year.

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