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Government Agency News

Attributable to Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon: 

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks; Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Dr. Radha Plumb; and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Mr. Ashish Vazirani met with House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Quality of Life (QoL) panel members Tuesday on Capitol Hill to discuss economic security, family support, housing, and healthcare for service members, families, and caregivers.
Deputy Secretary Hicks thanked Panel Chairman U.S. Representative Don Bacon (R-NE), Ranking Member U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), and the bipartisan QoL panel members for their partnership inaddressing quality-of-life issues that affect recruiting and retention. She also noted that the Department looks forward to ongoing dialogue with the panel as they complete their work over the next 8 months.

“When we take care of our people—our service members and their families—they can focus on their mission to defend the nation,” said Deputy Secretary Hicks. “Taking care of our people’s basic needs and improving the quality of life of our service members have a direct impact on military readiness.”

She highlighted the need to provide competitive compensation and salaries to compete for top talent in today’s job market, which includes a proposed 5.2% pay raise for the department’s workforce- the highest in more than 20 years for service members- which will result in a 10% increase in base pay in just two years.
The Deputy Secretary also highlighted DoD initiatives under Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s Taking Care of Our People priority to improve food security, childcare, and spousal employment, which include: 

  • implementing the Basic Needs Allowance and increasing BNA eligibility and calculation from 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines to 150%;
  •  reducing the average prices by 25% across all commissaries compared to other stores in the community;
  •  expanding food access by increasing the hours of on-base dining facilities and improving healthy grab-and-go options at on-base facilities;
  •  a historic Fiscal Year 2024 budget request of $90.4 million to implement universal full-day pre-kindergarten education in DoDEA schools
  • increased pay and incentives for early childcare providers and educators;
  • and increased fee assistance through the Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood PLUS program.

More on the HASC QoL panel and yesterday’s meeting is available on their website Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks Meets With House Armed Services Committee Military Quality of Life Panel Government Agency News