Between the overall national mood, the language contained in the proposed defense budget currently making its way around Capitol Hill, and the things President-elect Donald Trump has promised he’s going to do to make the military great again, 2017 should offer some things to improve the lives of the community compared to the previous few years.
Here are 5 indications to back up that notion:
1. More pay
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act — a.k.a. the Pentagon’s budget for the year — contains a 2.1 percent pay raise for the military, which matches the Employment Cost Index for the first time, as required by law. Also, counter to the rumors that were circulating around the milfam community during the summer, the Basic Allowance for Housing has not been touched.
2. Fewer deployments
Every service chief and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has stated publicly that the force needs a break from the constant deployment cycle that has been part of military life since 9-11. At the same time, President-elect Trump promised not to “fight unnecessary wars” during his time in office, so troops should likely expect a reduction in operational tempo from what they (and their families) are enduring. One other factor here is it’s cheaper to remain in garrison than it is to operate, so as the Pentagon looks to recapitalize expect more time around home base.
3. Better healthcare
While the political focus has been on the VA, rumors were circulating that TRICARE was in jeopardy of going away. Fortunately, there is no official plan at this point to eliminate it altogether, although co-pays and categories like TRICARE Prime are still undergoing scrutiny.
4. More career opportunities
The 2017 NDAA also contains provisions to increase end strength in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, which means promotion rates (especially in crowded fields) should go up compared to recent years. President-elect Trump has also said that he wants to do away with sequestration – the law that has slashed DoD’s budget in recent years by upwards of 25 percent and was scheduled to continue to do so for at least 7 more years. The Pentagon traditionally deals with budget pressure by targeting benefits and people before hardware, and that’s how they were dealing with sequestration. All of this, in turn, means those at the 10-13 year mark of their careers have better chances to make it to retirement if they desire.
5. Improved goods and services
As with No. 4, DoD’s budget pressure in the last few years was taken out on quality of life programs like daycare and MWR. Getting rid of sequestration should turn this trend around, making military family life better in ways most of us don’t notice until it’s gone.