The 50th anniversary of the AVF should mark a celebration, not a recruiting crisis. Since the end of the military draft in 1973, the AVF has protected our nation at home and abroad. Now fewer 18–24-year-olds each year have the desire (defined as propensity by DoD) or ability to serve.
The growing challenge to recruit and retain the force we need to defend our country is impacted by the erosion of the quality of life for our uniformed community.
Lawmakers need to hear your voice on the importance of protecting the AVF – and hearing from their constituents while they are home can raise their personal awareness and attention on the importance of pay and service-earned benefits.
Your representative and both senators are in their home district/state for the first two weeks of April and the looming showdown over budgets and spending is heavy on their minds. This is also an opportunity to reach out to their local offices. Make an appointment with their District/State Director and ask them to protect the All-Volunteer Force.
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The timing for a meeting or phone call with the local staff couldn’t be better. As lawmakers consider legislation and budgetary control measures, some now advocate for cutting veterans' benefits or search for Congressional Budget Office options to cut spending.
Finding savings on the backs of our uniformed community is the wrong place to look and is tone-deaf to the reality of our nation’s recruiting crisis. Any proposed cuts or decrements to pay and service-earned benefits will exacerbate the recruiting crisis.
Servicemembers may question our nation’s commitment to them during service and afterward. Yet there is no limit on what sacrifices our nation may ask of them.
If you have a chance to share your concerns with your elected officials, here are the top 7 quality-of-life initiatives that can support the AVF:
- Ensure safe and affordable housing by restoring the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to 100%.
- Protect the health care benefit by reversing cuts to the TRICARE pharmacy network and resisting calls to shift health care costs to beneficiaries via TRICARE fee increases.
- Improve health care for our overstretched reserve component to support their medical readiness.
- Restore childcare availability by doubling the number of family childcare providers via provider incentives.
- Support spouse employment by passing the Military Spouse Hiring Act (S. 596/H.R. 1277).
- Address out-of-pocket costs for PCS moves with an updated dislocation allowance.
- Improve community services, school quality, and morale, welfare, and recreation facilities with timely appropriations.
Roughly 83% of current recruits come from military families. It’s a critical pool of potential servicemembers — one that’s being soured, as a 2021 poll found fewer military families would recommend service to others.
To ensure the future of the force, the currently serving, retirees, and veterans must be taken care of if they are to develop positive experiences that counter negative perceptions currently impacting the next generation.
These personal engagements are often more impactful and important to recruiting than the actual marketing messages or efforts by recruiters alone.
MOAA has long advocated supporting the AVF and your lawmakers need to continue to hear from you: In defense of the all-volunteer force (militarytimes.com).
You can learn more about our upcoming Advocacy in Action at MOAA.org.
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