Service members would receive a 2.7 percent increase in basic pay on Jan. 1, under the 2022 defense-spending bill that passed the House Dec. 7. Other personnel-related highlights of the $768.2 billion measure include:
• Several initiatives aimed at fostering diversity and eliminating discrimination by race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation from the ranks.
• Several changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The Defense Department (DoD) would provide a report that addresses adding a “violent extremism” provision. Sexual harassment would become a crime, with all investigations of all such claims taking place outside of the chain of command. Survivors of sexual assault also would be notified of the outcomes of any administrative actions taken against their assailants.
• Other provisions, outside of the UCMJ, would help sexual assault victims. The bill calls on DoD to consider giving response coordinators their own military occupational specialty (MOS), allow special victim counsels to hire support personnel, give the DoD Safe Helpline hotline to take in restricted and unrestricted reports from eligible victims, and track retaliations against those who report such crimes.
• Banning the use of private funds to pay for one state’s deployment to another state, except in cases of natural disaster emergencies.
• Personnel-related measures include increasing allowable parental leave for caregivers and foster parents, establishment of an in-home childcare pilot program that would include financial assistance, a basic needs allowance for low-income service members, and more support for exceptional-needs families.
• $50 million for impact aid to local school districts that have significant numbers of military dependent students, and another $!0 million to offset costs these districts would incur for teaching those with severe disabilities.
• DoD would produce a report addressing whether the basic allowance for housing (BAH) accurately assesses the needs of military families’ moves.
• National Guard and reserve-component service members would receive incentive and special pays at the same rate as their active-duty counterparts.
The bill also contains several provisions addressing the military health-care system.
The plan to modify medical end strength and realign resources would be changed to reflect “emerging requirements.” Those with eating disorders, autistic family members, in need of care for obstetric hemorrhage during post-partum care, or requiring mental-health services would see increased services. An independent review would address suicide prevention and response on installations. Breast-cancer research and cardiac screening would be enhanced. Eligibility for enrollment at the Uniformed Services University for Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland would be expanded.