Charlotte, NC – With Honor Action works alongside the veteran, cross-partisan For Country Caucus (FCC) in the U.S. House to initiate, advance, and pass into law bipartisan efforts that matter for our nation and world. 2022 was an especially productive year as With Honor Action supported and helped pass into law the following 35 pieces of bipartisan legislation:
Increasing Public Service and Civic Education in America
1. Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Expansion Act [NDAA Sec. 519A]
JROTC provides invaluable leadership training and civic education to tens thousands of young Americans across the nation. Initiated by For Country Caucus Co-Chair Representative Don Bacon as a recommendation from the National Commission on Military, National Service, and Public Service, this act tasks the Secretary of Defense with expanding the number of JROTC units and developing a plan that would ensure greater access in rural, low-income, and historically underserved communities.
2. Expansion of Eligibility to Serve as Instructors in the JROTC [NDAA Sec. 512]
Current law states that JROTC instructors must be military retirees. This provision addresses the JROTC instructor shortage by expanding eligibility to servicemembers that have served at least eight years and received an honorable discharge.
3. Supporting Education Recognition for Veterans During Emergencies (SERVE) Act [NDAA Sec. 5127]
Tasks the Department of Veterans Affairs with creating an online database of veterans who self report service-connected medical training. In moments of healthcare crises, this database will allow for the VA to call on these veterans for assistance.
Defending International Allies and Alliances
4. Modification to Annual Report on Military & Security Developments Involving the Russian Federation [NDAA Sec. 1243]
Immediately following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, For Country Caucus Co-Chairs Jared Golden and Don Bacon prioritized building relationships with counterparts in the Ukrainian Parliament and engaging caucus members on all major pieces of legislation involving Ukraine. This provision tasks the Department of Defense with studying and distilling key lessons learned from the first year of this escalated conflict.
5. Sense of Congress on Taiwan Defense Relations [NDAA Sec. 5512]
Expresses the sense of Congress that Taiwan’s future will be determined by peaceful means, not Chinese force, and that the United States should continue to support the development of capable, ready, and modern Taiwanese defense forces that are prepared to repel a Chinese assault.
6. Extension of the Afghan Allies Protection Act [H.R.2617 Omnibus Appropriations Act]
This legislation championed by For Country Caucus members Representatives Peter Meijer and Seth Moulton (the recipients of this year’s With Honor Action Principles Before Politics Award), among other veterans in Congress, extends the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program until December 31, 2024. It further allows for an increase of 4,000 additional visas.
7. Baltic Reassurance Act [NDAA Sec. 1272]
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made it clear that defending democracies abroad requires strong, multilateral institutions and partnerships to respond to cyber threats. The Baltic Reassurance Act, led by For Country Caucus member Representative August Pfluger, directs the Department of Defense to continue its comprehensive, multilateral Baltic Defense Assessment. This assessment focuses on interoperability between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with NATO and efforts to improve resilience to hybrid and cyber threats in these countries.
Modernizing our National Security Infrastructure
8. Department of Defense Cyber & Digital Service Academy [NDAA Sec. 1535]
Championed by For Country Caucus Representatives Chrissy Houlahan and Mike Gallagher, the DoD Cyber and Digital Academy establishes a scholarship-for-service program for students pursuing tech-related programs with a mandatory service requirement in the Department of Defense. This legislation, a recommendation from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI), will help strengthen technical talent, modernize our military, and prepare for the sweeping technological advancements we face in AI and other areas.
9. DHS Roles & Responsibilities in Cyberspace Act [NDAA Sec. 7124]
Tasks the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security with conducting a review of its incident response plans and sets the conditions for improvements to our cyber incident response framework.
10. Cyber Diplomacy Act [NDAA Sec. 9502]
In April 2022, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the creation of a Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy to address “the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy.” Section 9502 codifies the Secretary’s announcement. This bureau will be led by the first-ever U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy Nathaniel Fick, a Marine who served formerly on the With Honor Action Advisory Board.
11. Short Course on Emerging Technologies for Senior Officials [NDAA Sec. 9507]
This provision, a priority of both the Cyberspace Solarium Commission and a recommendation of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, directs the Secretary of Defense to develop a short course addressing how recent technological advances affect the activities of the Defense Department.
12. Support for R&D of Bioindustrial Manufacturing Processes [NDAA Sec. 215]
Bioindustrial manufacturing uses living organisms, cells, tissues, or enzymes, to produce materials that can be more environmentally sustainable and may help create a more resilient supply chain. This provision authorizes the Secretary of Defense to strengthen our bioindustrial manufacturing infrastructure through the creation of regional bioindustrial networks. This initiative intends to help strengthen bioindustrial manufacturing in the U.S., securing supply chains essential to the production of critical chemicals and materials. For Country Caucus Members Representatives Seth Moulton and Mike Gallagher helped establish a new bipartisan National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology that aims to provide insight and recommendations to the 118th Congress. We plan to help pass many of these recommendations into law in this important and dynamic area of rapid technological advancement.
13. Improvements to Principal Cyber Advisors [NDAA Sec. 1501]
Codifies the offices and roles of the Principal Cyber Advisors (PCA) and authorizes the PCA to the Secretary of Defense to certify portions of the Department’s Cyberspace Activities Budget. It simultaneously integrates and streamlines a budgetary process for defense-related cyber capability development and security.
14. Cybersecurity Grants for Schools [NDAA Sec. 7104]
With cyberattacks targeting vulnerable schools on the rise, this provision fulfills a Cyberspace Solarium Commission recommendation to increase funding for K-12 cybersecurity education, both for educators and students.
15. Enhancing Maritime Cybersecurity [NDAA Sec. 11224]
Cyber attacks on the maritime ports that are integral to the supply chain increased by 400% in 2020. This provision tasks the Commandant of the Coast Guard and relevant cybersecurity agencies with developing a list of tools and resources open to the public. They will be designed to assist maritime operators in identifying, responding to, and recovering from cyber incidents.
16, Dr. David Satcher Cybersecurity Education Grant Program [C&S, Sec. 10235] & Federal Cyber Scholarship-For-Service Program [C&S, Sec. 10316]
A recommendation from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, the Dr. David Satcher Cybersecurity Education Grant Program will award funding to minority-serving or historically-black institutions of higher education to establish or expand cybersecurity programs, build public-private partnerships, and improve research and development efforts. The Federal Cyber Scholarship-For-Service provision enhances the existing CyberCorps program which provides funding to students in return for a period of service working in the federal government.
17. International Standards Development [C&S, Sec. 10245] & Standards Development Organization Grants [C&S, Sec. 10248]
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence need standardization and guidelines – the U.S. will be stronger if our small businesses and industry leaders help lead that effort. This provision, a recommendation from the National Security Commission on AI, creates a 5-year pilot program to award grants to small businesses to support their participation in international standards development organizations.
18. Cyber Workforce Development Research & Development [C&S, Sec. 10315]
A recommendation from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission this provision tasks the Director of NIST to award grants to nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education to carry out studies on the cyber workforce, its constitution, current trends, and factors influencing retention, growth, and development of that workforce.
19. Office of Research Security & Policy [C&S, Sec. 10331]
A recommendation from the National Security Commission on AI, this provision establishes an Office of Research Security and Policy within the National Science Foundation. The NSF will coordinate efforts to identify and address potential security risks that threaten research integrity to prevent intellectual property theft.
Enhancing Services to Military Families and Veterans
20. Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act [S.3373]
The culmination of years of effort from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and many other Veterans Service Organizations With Honor Action partners with, this major legislation aims to help an estimated 5 million-plus veterans who may have been impacted by toxic exposures while serving our country. In addition to providing this healthcare, the PACT Act invests in new research on post-9/11 veterans’ health trends. With Honor Action endorsed the PACT Act and assisted with the bipartisan negotiations to get it passed. We plan to stay engaged with implementation of this legislation and allocation of resources.
21. Report on the Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences for Servicemembers [NDAA House Bill, Directive Report Language]
Initiated by For Country Caucus founding member Representative Seth Moulton, this provision directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), one of the most significant risk factors for suicide and future mental and physical health crises, among service members. An ACE is a potentially traumatic event that occurs between the ages of 0 and 17. With Honor worked alongside Stop Soldier Suicide in support of this legislation, which we aim to see as a first step to implementing ACEs screening for every American entering the armed forces. Please contact me if you would like to support this multiyear initiative.
22. Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act [H.R.4571/S.2102]
According to a 2021 study, female veterans are nearly three times more likely to develop invasive breast cancer than the rest of the population. Championed by For Country Caucus Member and medical doctor Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, this law helps address these concerning disparities by extending access to mammograms for all female veterans who served in areas with burn pits or other toxic exposures, regardless of their age, symptoms or family history.
23. Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans (MAMMO) Act [H.R.4794/S.2533]
Led by For Country Caucus Member and medical doctor Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, this law requires the VA to develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services, create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where the VA does not offer in-house mammography, and expand veterans’ access to clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute.
24. Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act [H.R.7939 Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act of 2022]
According to a 2020 report released by the Department of Defense, more than two-thirds of military service members have reported that their spouse’s career prospects influence their reenlistment decisions. With nearly 50% of military spouses working in fields that require licenses, relocation based on military orders can be enormously burdensome to military spouses who must then seek to regain their professional licensure, a process which can take up valuable time and money. This provision, co-led by For County Caucus Vice Chair Representative Salud Carbajal, removes this barrier, requiring states to recognize the valid professional licenses of a military spouse that was obtained in another state.
25. Annual Report on Members Separating from the Active Duty Who File Claims for Disability Benefits [NDAA Sec. 563]
The U.S. has an obligation to acknowledge service-related disabilities. This provision requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report which details the number of Armed Service members who have filed claims for disability benefits since 2019. The report must include how these claims were handled, when the claim was submitted relative to their discharge date from active duty, and whether a mental health check was completed.
26. VITAL Assessment Act [H.R.5516 passed as part of H.R.2617 Omnibus Appropriations Act]
Initiated by For Country Caucus member Jake Ellzey, this law aims to provide critical mental health care and support to student veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Integration Academic Leadership Program.
27. Army Rangers Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act [H.R.3577/S.1872]
The U.S. Army Rangers earned their motto, “Rangers, lead the way”, scaling the staggering cliffs of Pointe du Hoc and vanquishing the enemy through brutal hand-to-hand combat on D-Day. This law, championed by For Country Caucus member and Army Ranger Representative Jason Crow in the House and Iowa Army National Guard veteran Joni Ernst in the Senate, awards the Congressional Gold Medal – “the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions” – to these brave Army Rangers.
28. Requirements to Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs of Members of the Armed Forces for Uniform Items [NDAA Sec. 390]
Directs the Secretary of Defense to track out-of-pocket costs for uniforms incurred by service members. The findings will be used to develop an appropriate uniform replacement allowance for officers of the Armed Forces.
29. Fairness for Federal Firefighters [NDAA Sec. 5305]
Creates a presumption of service-connected disabilities stemming from serious diseases. This will ensure that an estimated 10,000 federal firefighters receive the same access to job-related disability and retirement benefits as state, county, and municipal firefighters.
30. Treatment of Personally Identifiable Information Regarding Prospective Recruits [NDAA Sec. 531]
Strengthens the privacy safeguards surrounding the collection of Personally Identifiable Information in military recruitment. It authorizes the Secretary of Defense to establish the Military Recruiting Modernization Program as a pilot program to evaluate the usage of more modern technologies in handling personally identifiable information.
31. Increases in Maximum Allowable Income for Purposes of Eligibility for Basic Needs Allowance [NDAA Sec. 611]
It is estimated that 24% of servicemembers face food insecurity. This legislation addresses this unacceptable problem by increasing eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance. Championed by founding For Country Caucus Co-Chair, Jimmy Panetta, the provision raises eligibility from household incomes that fall below 130% federal poverty guidelines to 150%, and it empowers the Secretary of Defense to increase eligibility threshold to 200% for specific cases.
32. Post-Widow’s Tax Repeal SBP Open Enrollment for Service-Disabled Veterans Act [NDAA Sec. 643]
In the 116th Congress, Representative Jared Golden and other members of the For Country Caucus successfully repealed what was dubbed as the “Widow’s Tax.” Although the repeal helped many families, nearly 1,600 service-disabled veterans had withdrawn from the Survivor Benefits Plan and stopped paying premiums. This provision creates a special open enrollment period for this targeted veteran population, allowing them to re-enroll, catch up on any missed premiums, and collect the benefits.
33. Demonstration Project on Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Services for Children of the Armed Forces [Compromise NDAA, Directive Report Language]
Directs the Secretary of Defense to brief the Committees on Armed Services on the adequacy and availability of mental health services for military children with mental health needs.
Making Congress More Effective and Working Across Party Lines
34. Electoral Count Reform Act (ECRA) [H.R.2617 Omnibus Appropriations Act]
Reforms and modernizes the outdated 1887 Electoral Count Act, ensuring that electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s public vote for President. This provision passed in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, replaced ambiguous provisions of the 19th-century law with clear procedures that maintain appropriate state and federal roles in selecting the President and Vice President of the United States. With Honor Action endorsed the Electoral Count Reform Act and advocated for its passing alongside For Country Caucus member Representative Adam Kinzinger and other veterans of both parties.
35. Bipartisan Safer Communities Act [S.2938]
This major piece of legislation is the first gun reform and mental health bill to pass Congress in recent history. The bill was led on the House Republican side by For Country Caucus member Representative Anthony Gonzales, whose district in Texas includes Uvalde. Representative Gonzales worked with Representative Jason Crow, and Army Ranger whose district in Colorado includes Columbine, and other For Country Caucus members to pass this bill into law. While it does not fit neatly into one of the five priority areas With Honor Action and the For Country Caucus have aligned on, it is a significant accomplishment that was enabled in part by the bipartisan relationships that With Honor Action helps initiate and support.