December 14, 2023

Kilmer Champions Comprehensive Support for Servicemembers, Military Families in 2024 Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 (NDAA). The bill authorizes funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) and passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.

“If you serve this country, Congress should have your back and invest in you and your family,” said Rep. Kilmer. “With a 5.2% pay raise, improved housing, and expanded childcare support, the NDAA makes significant strides in supporting servicemembers and the folks who depend on them. The NDAA also includes wins for the regional economy, servicemembers transitioning to a post-military career or education, and our region’s talented civilian workforce who are doing vitally important work to keep our country safe.”

Supporting Servicemembers and Federal Workers

The NDAA includes several measures supported by Rep. Kilmer to support American servicemembers and their families, including a 5.2% pay raise for servicemembers. The NDAA also includes significant investments in military family housing, child development centers, and the replacement of housing in poor conditions. The NDAA also includes support for child care and military spouses so that military families can grow and thrive, and expands eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance to help more military households afford necessities.

Enhancing Seismic Mitigation at Public Shipyards

In a significant move towards ensuring the safety and resilience of our naval infrastructure, the NDAA allocates $400 million for ongoing seismic mitigation efforts at public shipyards. This includes $200 million specifically targeted for dry docks at Puget Sunds Naval Shipyard (PSNS). The Navy is expected to recover the outstanding costs through reprogramming, and a specific request from Rep. Kilmer focused on supporting seismic mitigation risks at PSNS.

Addressing Military Healthcare and Billet Reductions

Recognizing the critical importance of health care availability for military personnel, the NDAA addresses concerns regarding billet reductions resulting from the proposed force restructure plan. This includes language echoing the Appropriations Committee’s concerns about medical network care availability and shortages in high-risk areas as identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and provisions on billet reductions extended for the next five fiscal years, ensuring a continued focus on mitigating issues at Naval Hospital Bremerton and Madigan Army Medical Center.

Rep. Kilmer has ramped up oversight of military mental conditions and health services after several suicides at Naval Base Kitsap and growing worries about the availability of health care for servicemembers in Washington state.

Improving Transition Assistance for Servicemembers

The NDAA includes provisions to enhance the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), as recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Established more than 32 years ago, TAP offers a comprehensive curriculum tailored to each servicemember’s educational, training, employment, and financial objectives. The NDAA includes provisions aimed at improving participation in and timeliness of the program and addressing a key request from Rep. Kilmer to improve a critical resource for servicemembers transitioning to a post-military career or education.

In May, Rep. Kilmer called for urgent reform to the TAP following troubling findings in a 2022 GAO report that found 25% of servicemembers needing maximum support did not attend their compulsory sessions. Additionally, 70% started the program later than recommended, and a significant number did not complete the curriculum due to military service waivers, despite a 90% overall completion rate.

Supporting Defense Community Infrastructure

The NDAA recognizes the need for robust community infrastructure around military bases by allocating $100 million for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP), now permanently authorized, and fulfilling a request from Rep. Kilmer to support communities near Naval Base Kitsap/PSNS and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Reducing Noise Pollution from Military Aircraft

The NDAA mandates a detailed assessment of the Growler noise reduction program by the Department of Defense, demonstrating a commitment to improving community conditions around military aircraft operations.

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