© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Gillibrand celebrates military family benefits in approved annual defense spending package

Spelling a military family
Sgt. Jesse Smith/2nd Combat Aviation Brigade
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Tanner, a maintenance technician with the 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, congratulates his son, Nathan, April 1, 2015, at the Humphreys Central Elementary School on Camp Humphreys in South Korea. Nathan competed in the school's first ever spelling bee.

The Senate passed the annual defense spending bill this week, including a number of provisions backed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that were designed to help military service members and their families.

The $768 billion spending package will give service members a 2.7% pay raise, 12 weeks of leave for service members who become parents and expand access to childcare and mental health services.

Gillibrand, who is chair of the Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, said the provisions will give military families the support they need.

“This starts with improving pay benefits so that service members are not only being compensated fairly for the work, but they can also balance the demands of their service and their families,” Gillibrand said.

The bill also requires special medical training on toxic exposure so that service members who got sick from inhaling fumes from toxic burn pits can get faster diagnoses and better treatment.

$517 million will go to treating PFAS contamination on military bases, National Guard facilities and former Defense Department sites.

Gillibrand celebrated the bill's overwhelming approval, but voted “no” because her proposed reforms to the military justice system’s handling of sex abuse cases were left out.

Another Gillibrand-backed measure would have required young women to sign up with the Selective Service. That got nixed last week despite having gained approval from the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.