Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III unveiled a comprehensive plan aimed at improving the lives of our dedicated military force and their families. The new plan consists of six additional actions that address essential needs in education, childcare, parental leave, and career advancement. The Department of Defense (DoD) is committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of these measures.
Secretary Austin is directing the implementation of the following:
Universal Prekindergarten at DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) Schools: The DoD is collaborating with Congress to secure funding for universal prekindergarten at DoDEA schools. The program is set to undergo a phased implementation over a five-year period, providing high-quality early education for military children.
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) for Service Members: To alleviate financial pressure on service members with dependents, the DoD will enable access to Dependent Care FSAs, allowing them to set aside up to $5,000 in pretax income through payroll deductions for eligible dependent care expenses.
New Military Parental Leave Benefits: The DoD is actively promoting new parental leave benefits that provide 12 weeks of paid, non-chargeable leave to service members welcoming a child into their family through birth, adoption, or long-term foster-care placement. This initiative supports the well-being and work-life balance of our military families.
Improvements to the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP): The DoD is committed to enhancing the EFMP to better support the unique needs of exceptional military families. Further improvements and streamlined processes will ensure that these families receive the necessary resources and assistance.
Expanded Spouse Eligibility for My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Financial Assistance: To support career advancement for military spouses, eligibility for MyCAA financial assistance will be expanded to E-6 and O-3 ranks. This program provides up to $4,000 in aid for obtaining a license, certificate, or associate degree.
Portability and Best Practices for Professional Licenses: The DoD will continue efforts to make professional licenses portable for military families, working with states to encourage sharing of licensure best practices and approval of occupational licensure compacts. This initiative aims to reduce barriers to employment for military spouses.
Secretary Austin is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for our military force and their families through these new measures. The DoD will collaborate with Congress and state partners to ensure the successful implementation and ongoing support of these initiatives.
The memorandum on Strengthening Our Support to Service Members and Their Families can be found here.
– Diane L. Drain
This is directly from the Secretary of Defense:
“One of my top priorities as Secretary of Defense is to do right by our outstanding Service members, military families, and civilian employees. In recent years, our military community has weathered a number of challenges, but our people have risen to every mission and done it all with extraordinary resilience. But it is the Department’s ongoing moral duty to spare our outstanding people stress and struggle on the homefront where we can — and to show our Service members and civilian employees how much they mean to us with tangible support that makes a genuine difference in their lives. The Department has therefore relentlessly focused on improving quality of life, and I am very proud of what we’ve achieved so far. “
This includes a pay increase of 4.6 percent – the largest in two decades. Expended child care assistance, and a commitment to financial and quality of life programs.
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