SMA Reinforces Focus on Quality-of-Life Improvements

SMA Reinforces Focus on Quality-of-Life Improvements

SMA Michael Weimer shakes hands with troops
Photo by: U.S. Army/Pfc. Julian Winston

The Army is committed to improving quality of life for soldiers and their families, an endeavor that requires “predictable funding and pay,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer told a congressional panel Jan. 31.

In his first testimony on Capitol Hill since becoming the Army’s top enlisted soldier in August, Weimer told members of the House Armed Services Committee’s quality of life panel that “continuing resolutions and flat budgets do not support predictability for soldiers and their families, and it exacerbates quality of life issues.”

Since the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2024, the Army and the rest of DoD have been operating under a continuing resolution, a stopgap measure that keeps funding at the previous year’s levels and prohibits new program starts.

Noting the “immeasurable weight” borne by the families of soldiers, including more than 140,000 who are deployed or on notice as crisis response troops, Weimer pointed to the $3.4 billion investment being made in military housing, including barracks.

The Army, he said, is “resolute” and focused on fostering a professional and safe culture and ensuring that child care centers are staffed and families can easily navigate the care they need through the Exceptional Family Member Program. The service also is working to make sure spouses have what they need to stay employed.

“Over 431,000 spouses play a crucial role in our soldiers’ readiness and lethality,” Weimer said.

Testifying alongside his counterparts in the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Space Force as well as the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about recruiting and retention, Weimer pointed to the success of the Future Soldier Preparatory Course in helping recruits increase their test scores and physical fitness.

The course, which takes place at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Fort Moore, Georgia, has passed and shipped to basic training 95% of the soldiers who have gone through since it was created in August 2022, he said.

Addressing the availability of mental health resources for soldiers, Weimer gave his assurance that the Army has tackled and “made tremendous progress” on lessening the stigma associated with seeking help, along with ensuring that once scarce resources are available for soldiers who need it.

“We’re learning how to triage them so that those valuable resources are being used appropriately,” Weimer told the panel, pointing also to the Army’s efforts to build resiliency among soldiers with total wellness.