Congress' annual defense authorization bill is chock full of measures that impact troops, their families and retirees.
It's now one step closer to becoming reality after House and the Senate negotiators agreed on a compromise version that will soon head for a vote in each chamber before hitting the president's desk, possibly before the Thanksgiving holiday.
So what's in the 2,400-plus page document for you? Here are some details.
Pay, Benefit Changes
- A 2.4 percent pay raise for active duty troops. This is the biggest pay raise military for military members since 2001.
- A measure making the SSIA pay permanent. The so-called "widow's tax" was due to end this year.
- A major increase to Tricare prescription costs. Previously many retirees and dependents paid nothing for many prescriptions
- Creates a reimbursement of up to $500 for spouses who get a new professional license or certification after a PCS.
- The size of the military will increase by nearly 20,000 troops.
- The Army will grow by at least 7,500, the Navy by nearly 4,000, the Marine Corps by 1,000, and the Air Force by about 4,100. Reserve forces will grow by about 3,400.
'Revenge Porn' Punishment & Other Policy Changes
- Revenge porn, image sharing will be punishable. The bill adds court-martial punishment for the unauthorized sharing or distribution of "an intimate visual image of a private area of another person."
- Creates a new database to record all training completed by military members. This information will be made available to employers and states to help veterans get certifications or licenses, or claim their military experience when applying for a civilian job.
- Creates a pilot program to use retired senior enlisted Army National Guard members as recruiters.
Spouse, Family Proposals
- Creates a spouse telework pilot program for OCONUS bases.
- Allows split PCS moves for families of some troops. The program allows families to move before or after their service member if they fall into a specific category, and allows the service member to utilize government housing if it's available.
- Allows caregivers to attend separation counseling sessions.
- Directs faster evaluation and treatment of required prenatal surgery for Tricare beneficiaries.
- Orders a study on the health effects of polyfluoroalkyl (found in firefighting foam), which has contaminated water sources near many military bases.
Troop Health Care
- Mandates all mobilized Reserve Component members will receive pre-mobilization and transitional health care.
- Adds mental health assessments as a part of the separation physical.