Association Brings Military Families’ Concerns to Capitol Hill

Recently, the National Military Family Association testified before the Personnel Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Service Committee. Government Relations Director Kathleen Moakler spoke on behalf of the Association and used the opportunity to present the feedback we heard from military families in response to the now-averted government shutdown. “Last week was a rough week for military families when they experienced unnecessary additional stress as the budget debate raged,” said Ms. Moakler. “We hope that we never have to experience this type of impending crisis again.”

In addition, Ms. Moakler implored the Subcommittee to sustain funding for effective, proven military family support programs in order to promote readiness; to allow medically-retired service members and their families to maintain the active duty family TRICARE benefit for a transition period of three years following the date of medical retirement; and to support surviving families.

Our Association highlighted three important issues of concern addressed by the White House Joining Forces initiative: education, employment, and wellness. We would like to see an increase in the Department of Defense (DoD) supplement to Impact Aid; support of the Military Spouse Job Continuity Act (S.697); and sustained quality, affordable health care for all Military Health System beneficiaries.

Ms. Moakler testified as part of a panel with other members of the Military Coalition. This panel followed testimony by the Senior Enlisted Advisors of the Services. Questions for that panel dealt with efforts to improve transitions for service members leaving the military, including those who had been wounded, and how programs supporting service members with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury are being implemented. The association representatives were asked by Subcommittee Chair Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) about their views on increasing TRICARE fees for working age retirees and were almost unanimous in focusing, not on the proposed increase for 2012, but on the concern about DoD’s plan to index increases in the future. Senator Webb has stated his reluctance to support higher TRICARE fees in the past, but told the association witnesses that he would consider the points they raised in coming to a decision on how to respond to DoD’s fee increase proposal.

We thank the Senate Armed Services Committee for the opportunity to testify and present the issues that are so important to military families.

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