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Pay Raise in 2018 for the Troops

2018 pay raise

By Debbie Gregory.

House-Senate conferees have announced a deal on a massive defense bill, which will result in a pay raise of 2.4 percent for servicemembers. The $700 billion plan will also cover retention pay and bonuses, increasing troop size, repairs to the two Navy ships recently involved in deadly crashes, fund new ships and aircraft, and authorize new spending on missile defense.

The proposed pay raise would be the biggest increase for the military since 2010. The plan has already cleared several hurdles and now faces a vote before both chambers. After that comes the challenge of how to fund the plan.

Conferees rejected senators’ call to cut housing allowances for dual service couples with children. Under the Senate plan, one member no longer would have been eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing at the higher “with dependents” rate.

Married military members will both continue to receive BAH, with one spouse receiving the “without dependents” BAH rate, while the higher-ranking spouse receives the “with dependents” rate.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and leader of House Republican conferees, said all conferees had “the welfare of service members foremost in our minds. Some of that is pay and benefits but also, (considering) recent naval accidents and air accidents, it’s making sure they have equipment that works.”

Conferees did accept the Senate’s approval of a DoD plan to raise prescription drug fees, while encouraging greater use of generic drugs, on-base pharmacies and mail order pharmacy services. Survivors of members who die on active duty and retired disabled servicemembers would be exempt from the drug copay increases.
Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Green Beret’s Career Saved

Martland

By Debbie Gregory.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland’s Army career changed course during his second deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.

The Green Beret was facing discharge for striking an Afghan local police officer, one who had allegedly confessed to raping a boy and then beating the child’s mother for telling authorities.

Called bacha bazi, or “boy play,” the custom is practiced in Afghanistan and Iraq. Academics say the abuse of these “tea boys” is a product of sexual repression in traditional cultures and also poverty, as it is poor children who are usually preyed upon.

Martland has served in the Special Forces for 11 years. Many of his teammates say that he is the finest soldier they have ever served alongside.

Martland had fallen under the Army’s Qualitative Management Program, a process that can be triggered by derogatory information on their record. Though technically not a draw-down tool, it is aiding in force reduction efforts by weeding out less desirable soldiers; a black mark on their record, such as a relief for cause, can trigger a formal QMP review and result in involuntary separation.

After a fight to save his career, the Army has reversed from an earlier decision that raised ire in some corners, including U.S Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who introduced legislation on the soldier’s behalf.

Hunter, who led the fight to save Martland’s career, praised the Army’s move.

“They did the right thing. We finally kind of broke through the bureaucratic bulls–t barrier that they’ve created,” Hunter said. “This lets me know that there are people in the Army and the Defense Department and (acting Army Secretary) Patrick Murphy … they understand warfare. It’s not a game.”

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote to the Army on Martland’s behalf. The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization also advocated for the soldier.

Justice has prevailed for an outstanding soldier who did the right thing for the right reasons.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Is Iran Deal a Bad Deal? Military Connection

Is Iran Deal a Bad Deal?

By Debbie Gregory.

The Iran nuclear deal will leave Tehran as a growing power and require the United States to increase its spending on the military, according to four House Republicans

Rep. Mac Thornberry, Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) all House Armed Services Committee members, expressed this opinion, saying that after the deal negotiated by the Obama administration is implemented and sanctions are limited, Congress will need to play a role in preventing problems with Iran from growing.

They expressed concerns that lifted sanctions would allow Iran to pour money into terrorist groups, cyber attacks and ballistic missiles, and encourage an arms race in the region.

Rep. Thornberry said, “There’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, there’s an agreement. We can breathe a sigh of relief. Everything’s going to be OK.’ That’s not the case here. This agreement means billions more for all the sorts of activities that we described Iran is doing that causes problems in the world.”

Thornberry cited Iran’s support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Houthi in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon as activities that would be allowed to continue and grow under the deal.

“We’re going to have more problems, not fewer. And that goes back to the defense budget issue. We cannot cut defense anymore,” he said. He also emphasized the need to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which would authorize $612 billion in funding for the Pentagon.

Rep. Walorski added, “Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism, and this is not really addressed at all.”

“There is more investment in our nuclear deterrents than we’ve had for a while, and we’re going to need that as nuclear weapons spread around the world,” he said “Building military capability is key, and we are trying to push that.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.