Strickland Secures Support for Military Families & Servicemembers in Defense Budget
Washington, DC– Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) released the following statement after the House Armed Services Committee passed H.R. 4350, the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a bipartisan vote of 57 to 2. Strickland secured Committee passage of over 20 provisions to support servicemembers and military families at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) and across our nation, specifically addressing several aspects of housing security, military hunger, employment for military spouses, access to contraception for servicemembers and dependents, recognizing the contributions of Native American servicemembers, and more.
“Congress and the Department of Defense need to show that we value servicemembers and their families, like those at Joint Base Lewis McChord, who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and secure,” said Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland. “I’m proud to have secured several provisions in this year’s NDAA which invest in programs that help servicemembers and their families thrive. From housing security in high-cost, high-growth areas, to making sure no military family goes hungry, to supporting a diverse and talented workforce, to expanding child care access and jobs for military spouses-- investments in military communities are an investment in our nation’s readiness. As the FY22 NDAA moves to the House floor, I’ll continue to work with my colleagues, Chairman Smith, and President Biden to make sure that we are advancing a bipartisan defense bill that supports our national security and invests in the military communities at JBLM and across our nation.”
“For more than sixty years this committee’s focus has been to provide the Department of Defense and the men and women who serve our country with the tools to meet the ever-changing national security threats we face. For the sixty-first consecutive year, the Armed Services Committee has fulfilled its critical responsibility and completed, on a bipartisan basis, a defense bill that will bolster our national security and provide for the common defense. I want to thank Congresswoman Strickland for her tireless work in our Committee to ensure a defense bill which addresses crucial needs of servicemembers and their families, including military hunger, housing security and other priorities, in Washington and across our nation,” said Chairman Adam Smith (WA-9).
Over 20 Strickland priorities were included in the FY22 NDAA, which passed out of committee today, several of which are listed below:
- The bipartisan Military Hunger and Prevention Act - Introduced by Reps. Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Don Young (AK-at-large), Don Bacon (NE-02), Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Jim Baird (IN-4), this bill helps military families living with food insecurity make ends meet by creating a basic needs allowance to support servicemembers who are currently not eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
- Supporting an Equitable Housing Allowance For Military Families: Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a U.S. based allowance intended to provide uniformed Service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets. Strickland’s amendment would commission a study that would determine whether BAH is currently sufficient to support the average family size for servicemembers disaggregated by Armed Force, rank, and military housing area.
- Supporting off-base housing solutions by examining the Rental Partnerships Program: Strickland’s amendment directs the Department of Defense to evaluate the Rental Partnership Program, which provides off-base housing information and resources, including participation and awareness of the program among servicemembers and their families, and whether Congress should provide dedicated funding for the program.
- Shielding servicemembers from unreimbursed moving expenses: Servicemembers and their families move every 2-3 years and military families can spend thousands of dollars on moving expenses, some of which are not reimbursable. Strickland’s amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on unreimbursed moving expenses incurred by members of the Armed Forces and their families by branch, rank, and military housing area, examine the root causes of the unreimbursed expenses, and establish a policy regarding this issue.
- Examining Wait Times for On-Base Housing: Strickland’s amendment responds to the wait times military families are experiencing to get into housing at JBLM and on bases located in competitive housing markets across our nation, and directs the Department of Defense to provide a briefing on wait times for housing located on military installations in competitive housing markets, create a strategy to address housing demand, and determine the threshold for acceptable wait times.
- Connecting Military Families with Local Nonprofit Services: Within many communities near military installations there are nonprofit providers who can assist military families find affordable housing and provide other necessary wraparound services. However, families are not always aware of these services, or may have trouble accessing them. Strickland’s amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on how and the extent to which commanders of military installations connect military families with local nonprofits and government entities that provide services to the military, including assistance with housing.
- Examining Temporary Lodging Reimbursements when relocating to competitive housing markets: Strickland’s amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report regarding the extent to which military families are aware of and access Joint Travel Regulation reimbursements when searching for new housing ahead of a Permanent Change of Station. It also examines whether giving servicemembers and their spouses a maximum of 10 days reimbursement per diem is appropriate based on the time it takes to secure housing in highly competitive housing markets, such as the area around JBLM.
- Supporting Military Spouse Employment and Addressing Employment Discrimination: Strickland’s amendment requires a report on employment discrimination against military spouses in the civilian job market, including the effect of race and gender, and any policy solutions that could prevent such discrimination.
- Supporting the Legacy, Contributions, and Sacrifices of American Indian and Alaska Natives in the Armed Forces: Native Americans have had a significant impact on our military throughout our nation’s history – over 30,000 active servicemembers and 140,000 veterans identify as Native American. They have played an integral role in our military, from the Native Code Talkers in WWI and WWII to present-day conflicts, and have been recipients of our nation’s highest awards, including the Medal of Honor. Strickland’s amendment expresses the sense of Congress that Congress honor this history, and honor the legacy of tribal communities to our military. It also commits Congress to working to improve representation of Native Americans and veterans in senior leadership, improving cultural competency in the military around these communities, and supporting tribal nations.
- Supporting Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents: Strickland cosponsored Rep. Jackie Speier’s (CA-14) amendment focused on the parity provision of the Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act. It would bring health care provided by the military in line with basic aspects of health care guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act to ensure dependents and non-active duty TRICARE beneficiaries do not have to pay copays for contraceptive care.
Strickland is a strong advocate for servicemembers, military families, defense communities, and veterans in Congress. Strickland co-led the introduction of the bipartisan Military Hunger Prevention Act to help low-income military families living with food insecurity make ends meet. In June, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland co-led the entire bipartisan Washington House delegation in sending a letter urging the US Department of Veterans Affairs to take immediate action to resolve the systemic issues plaguing the veterans’ health care system. In May, Strickland made a statement to the Veterans Affairs Committee, to shine a light on the delays and communications breakdowns that veterans living in Washington’s 10th Congressional District are experiencing through the VHA’s Community Care program. March, Strickland co-led a letter to President Biden urging a boost in funding for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP), which would enable investments to enhance military family quality of life, resilience, or military value – including at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In July, Strickland secured inclusion of $75 million in funding for DCIP in the FY22 Defense Appropriations bill. She also led her fellow Korean American Members of Congress in introducing legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Colonel Young Oak Kim in recognition of his extraordinary heroism, leadership, and humanitarianism.