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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced a series of policy changes to help military service members and their families deal with rising housing, food and child care costs amid high inflation.

While President Joe Biden’s proposed budget for the Department of Defense includes a 4.6% salary increase for military service members beginning January 1, 2023, the current annual annual consumer inflation rate in the US is 0.1%. In the US it is 8.3%.

Many of the policy changes Austin announced will go into effect in October. They include changes to housing allowances for active duty service members, policy changes regarding permanent changes to station movements service members must make for their positions, and additional programs for child care and employment of spouses of military.

“Our Service members and their families must be able to secure affordable basic necessities. It is a fundamental financial security issue and a critical individual preparedness issue,” Austin said in a memo to senior Pentagon leaders and combatant commanders announcing the policy changes Thursday.

Some of the policy changes Austin is implementing come from ideas from service members themselves, and all of them are a “direct response” to what Austin has heard from service members and their families “over the past 20 months,” the Pentagon press secretary said. Brigadier General Pat Ryder said.

“Over the past 20 months, the secretary has met with service members across the country and around the world,” Ryder said. “Today’s actions are a direct response to what the Secretary has heard from our service members. Some of these initiatives are ideas that came directly from the force and reflect their commitment to the families who sacrifice every day to serve.”

Austin ordered an automatic increase in the basic housing allowance for active duty service members in the 28 US military housing areas that have experienced “an average increase of more than 20% in housing rental costs this year.” year,” Austin said in the memo.

Austin also mandated a change in how long service members are eligible to have temporary housing expenses covered when they must make a permanent change of station, or a change required for their posting to military service, beginning in October. . Austin increased temporary lodging expense coverage from 10 days to 14 days for moves within the continental US. The Department of Defense will now also allow up to 60 days of temporary housing expense coverage “if a service member is in a specific military housing area with a housing shortage,” the memo said.

During these moves, service members also earn a move allowance. All service members will now have their relocation allowance paid “automatically one month prior to their move date to avoid out-of-pocket costs,” the memo said. For service members rank E-1 through E-6, your commute allowance will also be increased. This will take effect in October.

Austin also directed military commissars to “lower prices at the register, with the goal of achieving at least a 25% savings on grocery bills compared to the local market,” he wrote.

For military service members and their families whose gross family income is below the federal poverty guideline of 130%, the Department of Defense will pay them a basic needs allowance beginning in January, according to the memo.

This allowance is “designed” to get these service members and their families “back to that level,” said Defense Department Director of Military Compensation Jeri Bush. The allocation will vary according to the needs of the families.

To help with the “child care shortage affecting the entire country,” the Department is instituting a “minimum 50% employee discount for the first child” of military family members who work at one of the program’s facilities. child development program “to help attract more talented personnel. and increase capacity,” according to the memo. This new discount will take effect in October.

To help increase employment of military spouses, the department will “launch a new career accelerator pilot initiative” in January “that will connect military spouses with private-sector paid scholarships in a variety of career paths,” the memo said.

All of these measures are intended to help military families deal with the rising costs of inflation affecting housing, food and jobs across the country.

“We remain deeply committed to doing the right thing by our military families, just as our military families remain deeply committed to their loved ones and to the nation we all do so much to defend,” Austin said in the memo.

Austin will receive “regular updates” on the initiatives, according to the memo.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated which service members will automatically receive their relocation allowance one month prior to their move date.

Defense Secretary Announces Series of New Policies to Help Servicemembers with Rising Cost of Living – media drift

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