Enlisted Unanimously Request Fiscal Certainty

March 10, 2017

Senior enlisted advisors to the military branch service chiefs testified regarding quality-of-life issues before the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. No member of the armed services is considered to be better suited to speaking about the day-to-day challenges of servicemembers and their families than these enlisted leaders, the most highly ranked in their respective services.

As in previous years, the top concern for every advisor was the impact of fiscal uncertainty on the recruitment and retention of servicemembers. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey's statement for the record read, “Budget Control Act of 2011 caps threaten to reverse many of the gains we have made in manpower, equipment reset, training, benefits, etc. Every decision we make affects specific Soldiers and Families.” In his oral statement he continued, “Having a military is mandatory for our nation, but it's a choice for individuals.”

The retention theme was consistent as each leader spoke of cuts to the force and the need to build back up. Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Ronald L. Green, stated that taking care of families at the installations was a top priority, but fiscal uncertainty and budget pressures have forced the Corps to accept “too much risk” in family programs, resulting in seasoned Marines leaving the Corps.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, Kaleth O. Wright voiced concerns in his oral and written statement about the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act requirement for a report on potential changes to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) via a single pay system. The “regressive nature” of such a proposal could severely affect the recruitment and retention of airmen, at a time when salaries must remain competitive with the private sector. He warned, “Cost savings must be tempered with our ability to retain talent.”

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano shared many of his peers' concerns but turned to operational tempo as a growing issue, where short notice in advance of a deployment is “a significant distraction” to sailors who want to focus on the mission. He said, “the more secure they are that their families are taken care of … the more we benefit.”

Each of the leaders was asked to list their top three concerns for their troops:

Sergeant Major if the Army Dailey:

  1. Readiness
  2. The future of the Army
  3. Soldiers and families

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Giordano:

  1. Increasing PCS lead times
  2. Childcare availability
  3. Mobility and resulting impacts on spouse employment

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Green:

  1. Hometown/installation readiness
  2. Personal readiness and families' needs
  3. Transition

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Wright:

  1. Operational tempo
  2. Pay and compensation uncertainty
  3. Childcare and spouse employment

Oral statements were followed by almost two full rounds of questions from the committee. Questions ranged from concern over healthcare access to Medicaid and ECHO for military children with special needs and the scandal involving nude photos shared in a private Facebook group.

The senior enlisted leaders echoed concerns that remain at the top of MOAA's legislative agenda. We are actively supporting appropriations and authorizations for robust programs to maintain servicemember and family readiness. Additionally, repealing sequestration and restoring some level of fiscal certainty will be one of two issues we address when we Storm the Hill this year with hundreds of MOAA leaders from across the country. Sergeant Major Dailey's reminder that the individual chooses to serve is a poignant one; we want the choice to serve to be an easy one.

 

Join Today


Not a member of MOAA? When you join MOAA, you become part of the strongest advocate for our military's personnel and their families. The stronger our membership is, the stronger our voice becomes. Consider joining today because every voice counts.

Rate this content