Service members are to receive a 3.1-percent raise in basic pay on Jan. 1, under the 2020 defense-spending bill just signed by President Trump as part of a broad $1.4 trillion deal that avoided a government shutdown.
The measure includes a $658.4-billion base budget, another, and $71.5 billion for overseas contingency operations, and $5.3 billion for restoration of installations damaged by extreme weather or earthquakes.
Surviving spouses of deceased disabled retirees would finally see a resolution to the concurrent-receipt issue — by which the money they are paid through the Survivor Benefit Plan (SPB) is offset dollar-for-dollar by the amount they receive in Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill calls for a three-year phase-out of the offset.
* Require the Defense Department (DoD) to address the waiting lists for child care. It calls for an assessment of capacity at base child-care centers, expanded assistance with fees for families of service members who are killed in combat, better background checks and hiring of staff, $40 million to assist local agencies that take care of military children, and $10 million for those local agencies that help severely disabled children.
* Overhaul privatized military housing, to address the litany of complaints about poor upkeep and services.
* Tighten controls and improve standards of care for personal household goods during permanent-change-of-station (PCS) moves.
* Toughen responses to sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence and hazing.
* Provide service members who are victims of sexual assault or violence with a means of requesting upgrades of their discharges.
* Address health care in several key areas. The services would not be allowed to reduce military medical billets at the levels they had proposed. More reservists would be eligible for coverage under Tricare Reserve Select. National Guard members would be able to consult with mental-health professionals.
* Allow service members to seek administrative claims against the government in cases of medical malpractice that result in personal injury or death.
* Integrate basic training for Marines at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruiting Depot, S.C.
* Provide $11.8 billion for military construction.
* Establish the U.S. Space Force.