Policy Issues

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Policy Issues web header - Making Change That Matters

As military families ourselves, we know the issues that matter most to military families. And who better to advocate for those important issues?

NMFA stands in support of the families who serve silently and sacrifice daily because we know what it’s like to be a military family. Whether it is writing letters in support of legislation, keeping track of bills in Congress, or providing testimony, we are the voice behind our military family force. We stay constantly updated on the latest issues affecting families, we amplify their concerns, and work to guarantee they have the best quality of life as their loved one serves our country.

Learn more about these issues and how you can stand behind military families, too.

Military Family Reunion

Child Care

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The Problem

Military families commonly struggle to find high quality, affordable child care. While a lack of affordable child care is a national issue, the problem is even more acute for service members, who move frequently, often work irregular hours, or live far from extended family.

Learn More

Learn more about how child care affects military families, what NMFA is doing to help, and get additional resources to help.

TRICARE Young Adult

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The Problem

Under the Affordable Care Act, commercial health insurers are required to automatically cover young adult dependents under their parents’ plans up to age 26. However, TRICARE is exempt from this requirement. Instead, TRICARE only covers young adult dependents up to age 21, or 23 if enrolled in college. Military families who want their young adult children to retain TRICARE coverage must purchase a separate premium-based plan, TRICARE Young Adult.

Not only is this inequity unfair to military families, it’s also a financial burden on young adult dependents and their parents. Under law, TRICARE Young Adult must operate at no cost to the government, so enrollees and their families bear the entire cost. And those costs have skyrocketed.

The current system also unfairly penalizes young adult dependents who are unable or choose not to attend college. Those young adults lose coverage under their parents’ TRICARE plan upon turning 21.

Today’s young adult military dependents are the same kids who watched their service member parent deploy over and over again. Their childhoods were disrupted by multiple PCS moves. Their job prospects and educational plans upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. They deserve the same health care coverage as their civilian peers.

Our TRICARE Young Adult Priority

Eliminate the TRICARE Young Adult program and allow young adult dependents to remain covered under their parents’ TRICARE plan at no additional cost.

Legislation We Support

H.R. 475, the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act — modifies the extension of dependent coverage under TRICARE by allowing a dependent under the age of 26 to be covered without an additional premium.

No military family, serving and sacrificing so much for this country already, should have to decide between their child’s future and their child’s health care coverage. Today’s young adult dependents are the same kids who watched their parents deploy multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. They deserve the same protection afforded to other young adults whose parents have employer-based health coverage. Congress must pass H.R. 1045 and address this inequity. – National Military Family Association in support of the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act

Additional Resources

Military Kids Deserve Better: End TRICARE Young Adult

Video of April 2021 press conference on H.R. 475 with Reps. Elaine Luria, Michael Waltz and Blake Moore

Food Insecurity

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The Problem

No one wants to think that a military family might struggle to put food on the table. However, for many military families, this struggle is all too real. We have known for years that food insecurity is a problem that many military families face. Food pantries operate on or near virtually every military installation. Now, finally, there is data to show the scope of the problem. The Department of Defense’s 2021 survey of active duty spouses revealed that 25% of respondents reported experiencing food insecurity within the previous year.

Addressing some of the underlying causes of military family financial instability, such as high levels of spouse unemployment, will reduce the number of families experiencing food insecurity. However, targeted assistance is also needed to help vulnerable military families afford healthy food.

Our Food Insecurity Priority

Address the issue of food insecurity among military families. Work to ensure every military family can afford to put nutritious meals on the table.

Legislation and Policy Solutions

The FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a provision creating a targeted Basic Needs Allowance (BNA) for families whose income and household size place them below 130 percent of federal poverty guidelines. The following year, the NDAA increased the threshold to 150 percent, and gave the Department of Defense authority to further increase it to 200 percent. Creating the BNA was an important first step for military families struggling with food insecurity. Unfortunately, few families can access this much-needed assistance, because BAH is included in determining eligibility. We support H.R. 1764, the Military Food Security Act of 2023, which would exclude BAH in determining eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as food stamps, is a resource for families experiencing food insecurity. However, because BAH is included in determining eligibility, few military families qualify for this valuable program. We support S. 497 and H.R. 1763, which would amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to exclude a basic allowance for housing from income for purposes of eligibility for the supplemental nutrition assistance program.

“Too many military families are struggling, and we’ve heard it time and again from adults, but now military teens are speaking up, too. Passing the Basic Needs Allowance was a great first step, and it needs to be implemented quickly and effectively so that the people who need it most can feed their families.” – NMFA CEO Besa Pinchotti

Legislative Priorities for the 118th Congress

Child Development

  • Urge the Services to pursue innovative solutions to address accessibility, capacity and affordability utilizing public private partnerships.
  • Pursue the creation of dependent care flexible spending accounts for service members to offset the financial burden of child and adult care services.
  • Increase funding for the Services’ child care fee assistance programs.
  • Expand fee assistance eligibility to quality civilian child care providers.


  • Urge Congress to fully fund Impact Aid to offset the costs incurred by districts educating large numbers of military children.

  • Establish Universal Pre-K for Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) in overseas locations.

Family Member with Special Needs

  • Bring the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) benefits on par with State Medicaid waiver programs and extend ECHO eligibility for one year following separation.

  • Urge DoD and the services to ensure the families in the Exceptional Family Member Program have the supports they need to thrive.

Health Care

  • Urge Congress and DoD to ensure that TRICARE’s civilian health care network is high quality and has sufficient capacity to serve families before undertaking any medical billet cuts or medical facility downsizing/restructuring.
  • Reduce copays for mental health visits and physical, speech and occupational therapy, which are unacceptably high and deter families from seeking needed care.
  • Eliminate the TRICARE Young Adult program and allow young adult children up to the age of 26 to remain covered, at no cost, under their parents’ TRICARE benefit bringing TRICARE in line with the Affordable Care Act.
  • Urge Congress and DoD to ensure that the TRICARE retail pharmacy network meets the needs of all beneficiaries, including rural families, those residing in long-term care facilities and patients who rely on specialty, compound, or infusion medications.

Pay, Compensation + Commissary

  • Fight for annual pay raises tied to the Employment Cost Index (ECI) as prescribed by law; protect the pillars of compensation, such as the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), that were designed to partially offset the extraordinary conditions of military service.

  • Oppose any change to the defense resale system that would lead to increased prices or reduced support for military family quality of life programs. Urge that any reforms are conducted transparently and with Congressional oversight.

  • Address the issue of food insecurity among military families. Work to ensure every military family can afford to put nutritious meals on the table.

Spouse Employment & Education

  • Pursue the creation of a military spouse target group within the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
  • Expand opportunities for military spouses seeking a career in the mental health field to obtain supervision hours through DoD entities such as DHA and TRICARE in Military Treatment Facilities and the purchased care system.
  • Pursue a reliable method of tracking military spouse unemployment through Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Expand the MyCAA scholarship program to include bachelor’s degrees.

Our Legislative Priorities are available in a one-page printable format.

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In 2020…

Number of military family members engaging with NMFA on social media