For 62 years now, Congress has worked together to pass a bipartisan
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA authorizes but does not appropriate funds to run the Department of Defense. This year’s authorization is $858 billion.
Since the NDAA contains additional authorizations to provide for the readiness and well-being of American troops and national defense, here are some of the highlights:
- A 4.6% pay raise for military service members and the DOD civilian workforce.
- A 2% increase in the housing allowance for service members.
- $160 billion for aircraft, missiles, ammunition, combat vehicles, Navy ships, and other equipment.
- Funding for research and development of a new nuclear-capable cruise missile that could be launched from ships or submarines.
- $7.3 billion for military construction to address unfunded requirements, cost to complete, and market adjustment funds due to inflation.
- $22.3 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) activities.
Under the NDAA, Title 51 (LI) covers 34 items related to veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including funding for veterans’ programs and related activities. Amongst those that piqued my interest are:
- Transition grants for veterans upon separation, retirement, or discharge
- Pilot program to employ veterans in positions relating to conservation and resource management activities
- Improving the processing of VA disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder
I was, however, saddened to see Section 5107 calling for the elimination of the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As a Phoenix VA Whistleblower, the AIR Commission was a part of the VA MISSION Act, which helped to establish guidelines for veterans to be able to access community care, to put parameters around wait times and performance bonuses (so that what happened with the waits and delays at Phoenix and 117 other VA facilities) would never happen again. The AIR Commission was designed to conduct a market assessment of the viability of VA facilities nationwide to offer recommendations for improvements, enhancements, combinations, and closures as needed.
Continuing to chip away at the fixes Whistleblowers and others advocated for with the passage of the MISSION Act is disheartening.
You can read the full breadth of the NDAA online at https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hr7900/BILLS-117hr7900pcs.pdf. Fortunately, the document has been posted as a searchable pdf, which means you pull up the link to view the document, click in the document, hit control “f,” type in “veterans affairs,” and see all 34 sections relating to veterans.
Feel free to reach out if there are other items in the Act you’d like us to cover or drill down on.