Kaine introduces bill to require DOD to listen to soldiers on pay

kaine new2U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) have introduced the Servicemembers’ Compensation Empowerment Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation that would direct the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Military Retirement and Modernization Commission to formally take preferences of military personnel on their pay and benefits into account as the Commission prepares to issue a comprehensive set of cost-saving recommendations in February 2015.

As of now, no official study has been conducted by the Commission to determine the relative value of compensation and benefit programs to the military personnel who depend on them. Under this legislation, the Commission would be required to survey randomly selected members of the military concerning basic pay, housing allowances, bonuses and special pay, dependent healthcare and retirement pay and report its results to Congress.

“Servicemembers deserve to have their voices heard as changes to the pay and benefits packages they depend on most are considered,” said Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “By formally surveying military personnel on the benefits they value most, we can ensure the Military Retirement and Modernization Commission and members of Congress have the best possible understanding of how cost-saving proposals would impact our servicemembers and their families.”

The Servicemembers’ Compensation Empowerment Act of 2014 would:

· Provide Congress with information necessary for informed decision-making by directing the Military Retirement and Modernization Commission to survey servicemembers and issue a formal report.

· Avoid adverse effects to morale and recruitment that could result from uninformed benefit reductions that do not properly weigh the livelihoods of military families with policy priorities.

· Empower servicemembers to have input on discussions by Congress through formal study and reporting by the Department of Defense conveying what is important to individuals across the services.

· Assure servicemembers and their families that any reforms would be targeted to protect the benefits that are most important to them and would not compromise their quality of life through haphazard cuts.

A similar provision was recently included in the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel mark.

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