Note from MOAA: Maj. Craig Overholt, USA, is a recipient of MOAA's Colonel Paul W. Arcari Meritorious Service Award, which honors congressional staff members who have made significant contributions to the uniformed services community. Read more about MOAA’s 2021 award winners.
By Kristin Davis
As a father and soldier, Army Maj. Craig Overholt understands that safe, dependable child care is more than just peace of mind for military families. It is a matter of force readiness.
Yet families sometime endure lengthy waits for child care at on-base Child Development Centers. Some are forced to find off-base alternatives in a highly competitive child care market.
That’s why, as a defense fellow working on the staff of Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), Overholt helped draft legislative language aimed at making sure military families have access to affordable child care.
The provision, adopted in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, gives on-base housing preference to military spouses who provide in-home child care as a certified Family Child Care Provider. The purpose of the provision is to create more on-base child care options, while providing flexibility to service members and alleviating the strain on Child Development Centers wait times. The bill also includes an amendment requiring a report from the DoD on flexible spending accounts that would allow servicemembers to use pre-taxed income to pay for out-of-pocket child care costs.
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“Expanding access to quality child care is a critical component to force readiness and is a top priority for Congressman Norcross and the Department of Defense,” Overholt said. “During the fellowship program, I was grateful for the opportunity to work these provisions with professionals who are dedicated to improving the lives of our servicemembers, including Ryan Ehly from the congressman’s personal staff, Eryn Wagnon from MOAA, and committee staff members.”
Overholt grew up in Indiana as the grandson of two World War II veterans. Both men served in the Army Air Corps. “My grandfather on my mother’s side would sit down with us, pull out pictures and different historical artifacts, and tell us stories of flying over the Pacific. He always valued selfless service and supporting a cause greater than himself.”
Inspired by their service and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Overholt enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school in 2002. “I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in life,” he said, but he knew he wanted to serve his country. Overholt commissioned as a logistics officer in 2011. During his almost 19-year Army career, he has served in leadership roles from squad leader to company commander and deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. “I have served on so many great teams and had leaders who mentored me along the way,” he said. “They made the decision easy to make the Army a career, and I hope that I’m doing the same for others.”
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A personal interest in civil-military relations motivated Overholt to apply for the Army Congressional Fellowship Program, a 44-month broadening program that includes a master’s degree in legislative affairs at George Washington University, service on the staff of a member of Congress, and a follow-on assignment as a congressional legislative liaison. “I wanted to understand how the Army and other services communicated their strategic objectives to Congress and how the legislative branch supported those efforts,” Overholt said. “I’ve learned a lot, and being a part of that mission has been so rewarding.”
Today, Overholt is in the final phase of the fellowship program, serving a two-year utilization as a legislative liaison with the Army’s House Liaison Division.
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