The draft legislation from the House Armed Services Committee’s Personnel Subcommittee was among the first to be released as part of the process to amend, or mark-up, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy goals and spending targets for the year beginning Oct. 1.
The White House had requested a 1.6 percent pay raise for 2017, which is higher than 1.3 percent increase received by troops this year, but lower than the 2.1 percent raise called for by law to match private-sector wage growth.
The legislation also calls for adding 27,000 more active-duty troops than the Defense Department has requested for 2017, resulting in personnel levels closer to what has been authorized for this year.
The Pentagon in February requested funding for 1.3 million active-duty troops in the next fiscal year, a decrease of 19,400 troops from the current period. It also asked for money to support 811,000 reservists in the same period, a decrease of almost 10,000 reservists from this year.
Some military families with adult children currently using a transferred GI Bill say while the housing allowance the students get as a part of the transfer eases their financial burdens, they understand why officials are looking to reduce it, according to Military.com.
Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year approved a measure as part of the Veterans Employment, Education and Healthcare Act that would cut in half the housing allowance for military dependents using a transferred GI Bill.
The new rule would only affect benefit transfers that take place more than 180 days after the change is signed into law. It would not impact families who have already transferred the benefit, are currently using the benefit or transfer it during that 180-day period.
The savings from the cuts would cover the costs of a variety of programs, including increases to other aspects of the GI Bill. For example, it would fund two Fry Scholarship expansions for spouses of troops killed in action after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as a measure allowing Guard and Reserve members on medical hold from injuries received on active duty to earn their GI Bill faster than has traditionally been permitted.
Department of Veterans Affairs investigators conducted spot checks at 10 veterans benefits offices around the country and came to a disturbing conclusion: The VA has been systemically shredding documents related to veterans’ claims — some potentially affecting their benefits.
The VA Office of Inspector General conducted the surprise audit at 10 regional offices on July 20, 2015, after an investigation into inappropriate shredding in Los Angeles found that staff there was destroying veterans’ mail related to claims, according to an OIG report released Thursday.
Investigators arrived unannounced at regional offices and sifted through 438,000 documents awaiting destruction as of 11 a.m. Of 155 claims-related documents, 69 were found to have been incorrectly placed in shred bins at six of the regional offices: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Reno, Nev. There were none at Baltimore, Oakland, San Juan and St. Petersburg, Fla.
Investigators determined that two of the 69 documents affected benefits directly, nine had the potential to affect benefits and the rest would not affect benefits but were required to be in the claims folders before destruction and were not there.
It was enough, the report said, to conclude that not only were the problems systemic, the impact could be serious.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald announced that he, along with three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar and former NFL player and Super Bowl champion Phil Villapiano, have pledged to donate their brains to advance brain research conducted by VA in partnership with the Concussion Legacy Foundation, according to an announcement from VA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The announcement was made at the VA-hosted Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion, a public-private partner event which builds on the trailblazing efforts of a number of distinguished VA brain researchers and brings together many of the most influential voices in the field of brain health to identify and advance solutions for mild traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.