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    With Honor Action and USAA Send Letter Advocating for Support of Military Families and Veterans in the FY24 NDAA

    With Honor Action and USAA Send Letter Advocating for Support of Military Families and Veterans in the FY24 NDAA

    Today, With Honor Action and USAA sent this letter to the leaders of the Armed Services Committees advocating for provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24 NDAA) that provide a higher quality of life for our servicemembers and their families. Check out the full text of the letter below.

    The Honorable Jack Reed                 The Honorable Mike Rogers
    U.S. Senate                                          U.S. House of Representatives
    728 Hart Senate Office Building      2469 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510                     Washington, D.C. 20515

    The Honorable Roger Wicker           The Honorable Adam Smith
    U.S. Senate                                          U.S. House of Representatives
    425 Russell Senate Office Building 2264 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510                    Washington, D.C. 20515

    RE: FY24 NDAA Provisions in Support of Military Families and Veterans

    Dear Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Wicker, Chairman Rogers, and Ranking Member Smith:

    As the House-Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Committee  considers compromise language for the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) NDAA, With Honor Action and  USAA respectfully urge you to include the provisions discussed below, which support military  family readiness, military spouse employment, military housing needs, and suicide prevention  efforts. Addressing these significant areas of need will improve the lives of our nation’s  servicemembers, their families, and veterans.  

    Founded by veterans, With Honor Action is committed to lessening polarization in Congress  while supporting our military and advocating for a strong national security. For more than a  century, USAA has made the promise to support and advocate for the military community and  their families in their time of need. We are committed to advocating for policies that strengthen  veteran suicide prevention efforts, support the financial readiness of military families through a  5.2% pay raise for servicemembers and increased housing support, and facilitate meaningful  employment opportunities for military spouses. In June, USAA launched Face the Fight™, a  coalition of purpose-driven organizations, including With Honor Action, focused on raising  awareness and support for preventing veteran suicide. The mission of the initiative is to break the  stigma of seeking help, increase the conversation about the problem and complement the efforts  of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DoD) and many others to  stop veteran suicide. 

    We believe the House- and Senate-passed NDAA sections outlined below (see Appendix A)  would meaningfully support military families and veterans and urge you to include them in the  FY24 NDAA.  

    Military Family Readiness: 

    The inclusion of the Military Service in Determining FMLA Eligibility for Federal Employees (H.R. 2670, Sec. 1118) will allow a federal employee’s military service to count towards the 12- month eligibility requirement for receiving benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act  (FMLA). This would put FMLA eligibility on par with other federal benefits, such as retirement  and vacation days, which already credit military service for eligibility. As you know,  approximately 500,000 veterans have chosen to continue serving our nation as civil servants, 

    comprising about 25% of the federal workforce. This legislation would be critical in helping  those veterans and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would have minimal  budgetary impact. As we face a military recruitment crisis, it is imperative that we show potential  recruits we value their service and support their transition out of the military.  

    The Reserve Component Parental Leave Parity Act (H.R. 2670, Sec. 601) would align National  Guard and Reserve parental leave eligibility with Active Duty standards. Currently, for the  National Guard and Reserve, only birthing mothers are eligible for parental leave. This  legislation would expand leave eligibility to include fathers and adoptive parents, as is already  the case for Active Duty servicemembers.  

    Military Spouse Employment: 

    Certain provisions in both chambers’ bills strengthen military spouse employment opportunities,  a central component of military family readiness. Military spouses have historically faced  unemployment rates around five times the national average due to the unique sacrifices and  demands of military life, including deployments, Permanent Changes of Station, and caregiving  responsibilities. Both bills would expand upon circumstances where military spouses may be  reimbursed for licensing, certification, and business relocation costs to include relocations due to  a servicemember transferring from a regular component into the Selected Reserve of the  uniformed service (H.R. 2670, Sec. 635; S. 2226, Sec. 606). Both bills would also amend federal  hiring authorities to make it easier for military spouses to attain and maintain federal  employment (H.R. 2670, Sec. 1116; S. 2226, Secs. 11332 and 11333). We also support language  in the House-passed NDAA that would direct DoD to coordinate with state licensing authorities  to increase awareness of existing license portability authorities (H.R. 2670, Sec. 640).  

    Military Housing Support: 

    Several provisions in both bills make critical changes to housing benefits and provide the DoD  more flexibility to better meet servicemembers’ housing needs. We support both bills’ inclusion  of language modifying the calculation of the basic allowance for housing (BAH) for junior  enlisted servicemembers with dependents (H.R. 2670, Sec. 622; S. 2226, Sec. 602). This  bipartisan language will help ensure military families can access off-base housing in their  communities. We also urge DoD to restore BAH to covering 100% of estimated housing costs,  rather than the current 95%. 

    Mental Health and Suicide Prevention:  

    With Honor Action and USAA, through Face the Fight, are focused on doing our part to stop suicide in the military community, and we appreciate bipartisan efforts to address this crisis  through the NDAA. We particularly support the inclusion of the House language directing the  Secretaries of the military departments to widely post 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline materials  on military installations and in online communications (H.R. 2670, Sec. 594). The House bill  also contains an important provision directing DoD to establish a program to monitor and assist  members of the Armed Forces at risk of suicide who have been recently discharged from health  care (H.R. 2670, Sec. 604). We also urge inclusion of provisions from both bills that would  expand access to mental health care for servicemembers and their families (H.R. 2670, Secs.  593, 655, and 704; S. 2226, Secs. 532 and 705) as well as the House provision establishing a  DoD task force on mental health.

    Together, these provisions would provide common sense reforms and positively transform the  lives of our nation’s servicemembers. With Honor Action and USAA are proud to stand with our  military and veteran community and look forward to seeing these provisions enacted in the FY24  NDAA.  



    Rye Barcott, Co-founder                     John Hughes, SVP, Government &
    and CEO, With Honor Action             Industry Relations, USAA

    Appendix A: FY24 NDAA Provisions in Support of Military Families and Veterans Military Family Readiness: 

    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 1118. Military Service in Determining FMLA Eligibility for  Federal Employees. 
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 601. Reserve Component Parental Leave Parity Act. 

    Military Spouse Employment: 

    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 1116, Military Spouse Employment Act. 
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 635. Expansion of eligibility for reimbursement of qualified  licensure, certification, and business relocation costs incurred by military spouses.  • S. 2226, Sec. 606. Expansion of eligibility for reimbursement of qualified  licensure, certification, and business relocation costs incurred by military spouses.  

    Military Housing Support: 

    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 622. Improved calculation of basic allowance for housing for  junior enlisted members. 
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 623. Expansion of authority of a commanding officer to authorize  a basic allowance for housing for a member performing initial field or sea duty. • H.R. 2670, Sec. 624. Dual basic allowance for housing for training. • S. 2226, Sec. 603. Basic allowance for housing for members assigned to vessels  undergoing maintenance. 
    • S. 2226, Sec. 604. Dual basic allowance for housing for training for certain  members of reserve components. 
    • S. 2226, Sec. 605; H.R. 2670, Sec. 621. Modification of calculation of gross  household income for basic needs allowance to address areas of demonstrated  need. 
    • S. 2226, Sec. 607. Cost-of-living allowance in the continental United States: high cost areas. 
    • S. 2226, Sec. 608. OCONUS cost-of-living allowance: adjustments. • S. 2226, Sec. 611. Government Accountability Office study on process for  determining cost-of-living allowances for members of the uniformed services  assigned to the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, and overseas locations. 

    Mental Health and Suicide Prevention: 

    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 519. Sense of Congress relating to measures to address suicide  among former National Guard and Reserve components. 
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 593. Due date for report on efforts to prevent and respond to  deaths by suicide in the Navy. 
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 594. Posting of promotional materials for the 988 Suicide and  Crisis Lifeline at military installations. 
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 604. Program to assist service members at risk of suicide. • H.R. 2670, Sec. 655. Establishes a pilot program for routine mental health check ups in schools operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity. • H.R. 2670, Sec. 704, Non-medical counseling services for military families.  • H.R. 2670, Sec. 729. Task force of Department of Defense on mental health.
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 734. Waiver of certain requirements to facilitate urgent access to  mental health care services by members of the Armed Forces. 
    • H.R. 2670, Section 743. Study on non-clinical mental health services of the DoD. • H.R. 2670, Sec. 753. Report on mental health provider readiness designations. • H.R. 2670, Sec. 754. Study on accessibility of mental health providers and  services for Active Duty members of the Armed Forces. 
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 755. Study and report on mental health care for pilots and  aviators.  
    • H.R. 2670, Sec. 1080E. Assessment of suicide risk at military installations. • H.R. 2670, Sec. 1866. Annual review and update of online information relating to  suicide prevention. 
    • S. 2226, Sec. 503. Exclusion of officers who are licensed behavioral health  providers from limitations on active duty commissioned officer end strengths.  • S. 2226, Sec. 532. Non-medical counseling services for military families. • S. 2226, Sec. 705. Waiver of cost-sharing for three mental health outpatient visits  for certain beneficiaries under the TRICARE program. 
    • S. 2226, Sec. 707. Sense of Congress on access to mental health services through  TRICARE. 
    • S. 2226, Sec. 723. Comptroller General study on impact of perinatal mental health  conditions of members of the Armed Forces and their dependents on military  readiness and retention.  
    • S. 2226, Sec. 724. Report on mental and behavioral health services provided by  Department of Defense. 
    • S. 2226, Sec. 5721. Report on military mental health care referral policies. • S. 2226, Sec. 5723. Report on provision of mental health services via telehealth to  members of the Armed Forces and their dependents.

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