5 Wins for Active-Duty and Reserve Troops in the House Defense Spending Bill

5 Wins for Active-Duty and Reserve Troops in the House Defense Spending Bill
Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva/Marine Corps

From credit for retirement pay for Reserve troops' maternity leave to tracking burn-pit exposure, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act could bring comprehensive changes to the military.

The $717 billion defense spending bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday by a vote of 351 to 66. It now moves onto the Senate.

The bill authorizes DoD spending and sets personnel strength.

Here are five ways the 2019 defense spending bill will affect active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard troops.

1. Special operations medics physician assistant degree

What it does: Authorizes a study to assess the feasibility of partnerships between special operations forces and universities or health care systems to determine whether medics can earn credit toward a physician assistant master's degree.

Why it matters: Spec-ops troops would be able to earn degrees based on their real-world experience.

Sponsor: Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.

2. Publicizing housing market information near military installations

What it does: Develops guidance about the housing market around military installations to assist servicemembers in using their housing allowances.

Why it matters: Troops and their families would have an easier time comparing values of homes near military installations before making a purchase and entering into a mortgage.

Sponsor: Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wa.

3. Civil Relief Act amendment

What it does: Amends the Civil Relief Act to allow servicemembers to provide a certified letter from a commanding officer - or other appropriate paperwork - as proof of military service to creditors to qualify for interest-rate limitations.

Why it matters: A certified letter from a CO would make the process of obtaining interest-rate limitations more convenient.

Sponsor: Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wa.

4. Compensation and credit for retired pay for maternity leave

What it does: Provides pay and credit for retirement while reservists are on maternity leave.

Why it matters: Reserve troops would no longer lose valuable time spent on maternity leave from their retirement-pay computations.

Sponsor: Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.

5. Direct employment pilot program for Reserve members and veterans

What it does: Requires the Defense Department to report the number of underemployed reservists who are participating in employment pilot programs in fields that match their skills and training.

Why it matters: Unemployed and underemployed members of the Reserve and veterans could receive job-placement assistance and related employment services directly from the chief executives in their states.

Sponsor: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D, Ill.