American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2012 – From education and employment to program cuts and reductions, President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal has been dominating the headlines. With so much information to process, I figured I’d share the provisions that directly affect troops and their families. According to an Office of Management and Budget fact sheet, the budget request includes:
— $8.5 billion in Defense Department base funding to support military families, from child care and education for military children to counseling and employment programs for the entire family.
— More than $1 billion through the Education Department’s Impact Aid program to local school districts where a military base may increase the number of students and decrease the property tax base that funds the local schools. Districts educating more than 368,000 children from military families receive these funds.
— Funding for a 1.7 percent pay raise for service members — the full amount authorized by law — as well as a variety of monthly special skill-based payments, enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses, and other benefits.
— About $2.4 billion for programs serving wounded, ill and injured service members, with $747 million of that total to address traumatic brain injury and psychological health needs, such as support for recovery care coordinators and enhanced access to care.
— $465 million for medical research specifically focused on psychological health, TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder.
— $259 million for the Labor Department’s Veterans Employment and Training Service, and $8 million for the department’s transition assistance program and grants for employment services to veterans. The budget request ends the Veterans Workforce Investment Program, supporting service delivery innovations through the Workforce Innovation Fund instead. The expanded transition assistance program makes employment workshops more accessible to retiring Reserve and National Guard members, as well as spouses of separating service members.
— Continuing grants under the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program at a level of $38 million.
— Expanding entrepreneurship training for veterans and military families through the Small Business Administration’s National Veterans Entrepreneurship Training, a new $7 million program that will train up to 260,000 veterans annually.
— $278 million for implementation of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. New caregiver benefits and services include training adapted to the veterans’ individual care needs, a direct stipend payment and health care and mental health services.
— Almost $1.4 billion to provide services through the Veterans Affairs Department for homeless and at-risk veterans. These funds will combat veteran homelessness through collaborative partnerships with local governments, nonprofit organizations, and the Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Labor departments.
Earlier this week, officials said defense leaders are fully committed to assisting service members and their families.
The DOD budget request provides $1.3 billion in funding for child care space for more than 200,000 children, as well as $1.4 billion for family support centers and morale, welfare and recreation programs. It also commits $2.7 billion for the education of more than 61,000 students at DOD Education Activity schools in 12 countries and more than 33,000 students in seven states, Puerto Rico and Guam.
The request includes more than $50 million to improve public school facilities on military installations. Military construction funding is set at $9.1 billion, and family housing at $1.7 billion.