DoD Unveils Plan to Help Families

DoD Unveils Plan to Help Families

Lloyd Austin speaks to troops
Photo by: U.S. Army/Sgt. Caleb Minor

In the face of rising consumer prices, the Defense Department has unveiled a 13-point plan to help service members and their families.  

“This is personal for me,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin writes in a Sept. 22 memorandum to Pentagon leaders and combatant commanders. “I have seen firsthand how much our military families sacrifice to keep our force strong, healthy and ready to defend this exceptional nation,” he says. “I understand the extraordinary pressures that our military families face, and we are determined to do right by them.” 

In addition to a 4.6% raise in basic pay effective Jan. 1, here are the other extraordinary steps Austin has directed: 

  1. Basic allowance for housing rates will be increased in October for service members living in areas where average rental costs have increased by 20% or more since rates were set last year. This would be in addition to the normal Jan. 1 allowance adjustments.  
  2. More money will be poured into commissaries in an attempt to provide shoppers with a 25% discount over off-post shopping.  
  3. Beginning in January, the Pentagon will start paying a Basic Needs Allowance, a new allowance based on income, family size and location.  
  4. To reduce out-of-pocket moving expenses, the standard temporary lodging expense will be increased from 10 to 14 days, and it can be extended to 60 days if a service member is moving to a location with housing shortages.  
  5. Dislocation allowance will be increased in October for enlisted members E-6 and below. Also, to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, service members will receive automatic payments one month before their moving date.   
  6. More information will be added to Military OneSource, the information portal that provides information on moving and housing.  
  7. Austin promises “significant investments” to expand capacity of military child care facilities, but he did not provide details.  
  8. An employee discount for workers at military child care facilities will be standardized at a minimum 50% for the first child. This policy will begin in October.  
  9. Access will be improved to in-home and other off-installation child care programs, and a pilot fee assistance program will be expanded.  
  10. Agreements with seven additional states will be completed regarding professional licenses for military spouses.  
  11. Military spouse hiring will be expanded in DoD by providing more options for remote work or telework.  
  12. Beginning in January, a new career-accelerator program will be launched to provide military spouses with private-sector fellowships.  
  13. By January, the Pentagon promises a 10% expansion of a Military Spouse Employment Partnership plan that connects spouses with organizations that have committed to hiring them.