By Sara Croymans
In a September 2022 memorandum Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III stated:
“The Department of Defense has a sacred obligation to take care of our Service members and families. Doing so is a national security imperative. Our military families provide the strong foundation for our Force, and we owe them our full support.”
Military life provides many opportunities and challenges for the 2,129,656 Active Duty and Selected Reserve members and their 2,556,237 family members (2021 Demographics: Profile of the Military Community). Military families often encounter frequent moves, deployment, reintegration, temporary duty away from home, combat exposure, potential injury/death, and lack or disruption of career progression for military spouses.
Given these unique challenges, Secretary Austin announced in the fall of 2022 several short and long-term actions to help strengthen the economic security and stability of service members and their families. These actions fit into four key areas:
- Secure affordable basic needs: This includes reviewing the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Basic Needs Allowance (BNA) payments, additional funding to commissaries to reduce grocery prices on installations, and a pay increase for service members.
- Ease the process of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves: Steps have been taken to increase the maximum temporary lodging expense allowance and dislocation allowance and to continue to improve Military OneSource’s online moving and housing tools.
- Strengthen support to families: These efforts expand the capacity to provide quality child care, attract talented childcare workers, improve access to childcare programs and resources, extend hours at military child development centers, and expand parental leave policies.
- Enhance employment opportunities for military spouses: Efforts are underway to include several new occupational licensure interstate compacts to ease the burden of spouses who must transfer professional licenses or credentials with each move as well as additional efforts to ease the hiring of military spouses.
To learn more about these efforts, view these resources:
- The U.S Department of Defense’s webpage Taking Care of Our People provides resources for service members and families in the areas of financial security; health and wellness; resources for spouses; help for parents; single service members; women in uniform; moving, housing and deployments; and online learning. In addition, updates on the progress of the initiative are provided. For example, a recent article describes updates on expanding the military parental leave program.
- Military OneSource has also created a landing page highlighting resources for taking care of our service members and families.
Sara Croymans, MEd, AFC, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, member of the OneOp Family Transitions team, military spouse, and mother.
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