Will These Legislative Provisions Improve Quality of Life for Military Families?

Will These Legislative Provisions Improve Quality of Life for Military Families?
Photo by Cpl. Alex Fairchild/Marine Corps

As DoD faces a recruiting crisis, lawmakers have taken some steps to improve the quality of life for servicemembers and their families, many of whom must combat poor and unsafe housing conditions, a significant lack of available child care, food insecurity for young families, and soaring spouse unemployment.

 

MOAA recognizes the importance of making these improvements, which came about via provisions in the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and other bills passed at the end of the 117th Congress.

 

Here’s a breakdown of what this late-session flurry of legislation will do; keep up with the latest legislative news and MOAA’s ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of servicemembers past and present, and their families, at MOAA.org/Advocacy-News.

 

Military Family Finances

  • Provides a 4.6% pay increase for servicemembers, in line with the Employment Cost Index (ECI).
  • Adds $250 million in funding to reduce costs of food and other necessities at commissaries.
  • Expands eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance to families whose gross household income falls below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines based on family size.

 

[RELATED: MOAA’s Legislative Priorities for the 118th Congress]

 

Military Spouse Employment

  • Extends authorization of the military spouse license reimbursement program – which provides up to $1,000 for relicensing fees due to a PCS move – through Dec. 31, 2029.
  • Expands the license reimbursement program to cover business costs for military spouse entrepreneurs associated with a PCS move.
  • Requires a DoD roundtable with industries to promote employment opportunities for military spouses.
  • Offers a $500 tax credit (per spouse) to small employers (100 employees or less) who offer military spouse employees a retirement plan with enhanced eligibility rules and an accelerated vesting schedule.
  • Amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to allow military spouses working in licensed/credentialed fields with an occupational license in good standing to transfer the license to a new jurisdiction upon a PCS move.

 

Military Child Care

  • Extends authority to offer parent-fee discounts to child care employees at DoD facilities.
  • Authorizes reimbursement for military families for certain child care expenses associated with a PCS move. Ideally, this reimbursement would cover travel expenses for a family member to assist with child care if the wait time for the child development center exceeds 30 days.
  • Expands the In-Home Child Care fee assistance program to an additional installation (currently available in five locations).
  • Introduces a pilot program to hire special needs coordinators at locations with a high concentration of dependents enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP).

 

Other Military Support

  • Authorizes $70 million for Impact Aid ($50 million for DoD Impact Aid and $20 million for Impact Aid for military children with severe disabilities).
  • Authorizes an open season for the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).

 

[AT DFAS.MIL: SBP Open Season Information]

 

There are many rungs between where these decisions are made and how user-friendly the programs and policies will be for military families. It’s reassuring to see provisions like the ones above, and MOAA will track the implementation of these changes closely to ensure the programs and policies are effective.

 

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About the Author

Jen Goodale
Jen Goodale

Goodale is MOAA's Director of Government Relations for Military Family Policy and Spouse Programs.