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NDAA highlights; servicemembers quality of life, their families and end strength

For those interested in understanding more about our military spending, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is probably the most significant piece of legislation Congress tackles each year. The NDAA authorizes funding levels and provides authorities for the U.S. military and other critical defense priorities. It is currently separated into seven divisions including:

(1) Division A–Department of Defense Authorizations.

(2) Division B–Military Construction Authorizations.

(3) Division C–Department of Energy National Security Authorizations and Other authorizations.

(4) Division D–Funding Tables.

(5) Division E–Non-Department of Defense Matters.

(6) Division F–Department of State Authorities.

(7) Division G–Global Pandemic Prevention and Biosecurity.

Although the legislation is comprehensive, I like to home in on three areas. What does NDAA do to help improve quality of life for our servicemembers, what does it do to support their families and what does it offer in the way of denoting our personnel (or end strength) for the military branches. Here’s the breakdowns for these areas.

Quality of Life:

  • Includes funding to support a 2.7 percent pay raise for both military servicemembers and the DOD civilian workforce.
  • Authorizes an increase in funding of $70 million for Defense-wide Operations & Maintenance, Department of Defense Education Activity, and for Impact Aid
  • Authorizes $75.3 million for the operation of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.


  • Creates a new category of bereavement leave for military personnel that would permit servicemembers to take up to two weeks of leave in connection with the death of a spouse or child.
  • Increases parental leave to 12 weeks for all servicemembers for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child.
  • Establishes a Basic Needs Allowance
  • Directs the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with others to develop policy that includes the option to preserve parental guardianship rights of cadets and midshipmen.
  • Conducting a pilot program providing direct hire authority to military spouses outside of the U.S.
  • DOD oversight of the military services in their uniform selections to ensure there is no gender bias

End Strength authorizations

  • Army – 485,000
  • Navy – 346,920
  • Marine Corps – 178,500
  • Air Force – 329,220
  • Space Force – 8,400

My interests barely scratch the surface of the legislation that will impact our military and future veterans in the years to come.  If you’d like to see what else is in the Act for 2022, this link to the Armed Services Senate Summary can help you see more detail:


Paula Pedene is the author of A Sacred Duty, How a Whistleblower Took on the VA and Won. You can reach her via email at

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