HASC Personnel Markup Includes Pay Raise, Creation of Space National Guard

June 13, 2023 6:05 PM
Sailors assigned to air department aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), man the hose team during a general quarters drill, in Newport News, Virginia April 7, 2023. US Navy Photo

Military service members could see a 5.2 percent raise as part of the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee’s markup of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.

The markup, which the subcommittee approved to go to the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday, includes changes to basic housing allowance and the creation of a Space Force national guard.

“This mark addresses many life priorities for our service members and their families,” ranking member Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) said during the hearing. “These issues have a measurable impact on recruitment and retention efforts.”

Under basic housing changes, the markup would make it so commanding officers could authorize basic housing allowances for sailors with pay ranks under E-6 who are serving on initial sea duty.

“In authorizing an allowance under this subparagraph, the commanding officer shall consider the availability of quarters for the member and whether such quarters are inadequate or an impediment to morale, good order, or discipline,” the mark reads.

The move follows a May quality of life investigation into the deaths by suicide of nine sailors assigned to aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) while the ship was in a maintenance phase at HII’s Newport News. The investigation found that a lack of adequate housing for junior sailors was a significant problem for the crew of the carrier.

The markup also grants a one-year extension on expiring bonuses, such as temporary increases to basic housing allowances when housing costs differ from current rates by 20 percent.

Under the mark, junior service members may also be eligible to receive a monthly bonus “if the Secretary concerned determines that prevailing economic conditions may adversely affect an eligible member.”

The personnel mark also attempts to address some of the outstanding issues facing service members, including child care and access to medical services. The mark includes an expansion to a pilot program looking at in-home child care, bringing it to four more military installations, including Naval Station Lemoore, Calif., and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Included in the medical changes is the requirement of a report on opioid and fentanyl use among service members. The mark also calls for naloxone – a drug that treats overdoses of opioids – to be available to all service members on military installations.

The mark also calls for an examination of non-clinical mental health care services, such as the Military and Family Life Counseling Program. Under the study, the Department of Defense would look at how the services are implemented, how they differ from clinical services and how effectiveness is measured.

A study looking at health care provided for defense operations in Japan and Joint Region Marianas is also mandated in the mark.

The personnel subcommittee included several health-related directives in the report, including a requirement for the Defense Department to look at how long it takes to credential medical service providers under TRICARE. 

The directive language also calls for studies on child care and basic needs allowance.

The mark also included provisions to create the Space National Guard and personnel system for the Space Force.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox