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Mike Rogers: No U.S. servicemember should have to rely on food stamps

On Wednesday U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, delivered opening remarks at the full committee markup for H.R. 8070, the Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement Act and National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025 (NDAA).

All branches of the armed forces have faced significant challenges in recruitment, prompting the lawmakers to prioritize the enhancement of pay and benefits for servicemembers in this year’s NDAA. Rogers said that the pay for active duty members of the armed forces should not be so low that they qualify for “food stamps” or “live in squalid conditions.”

“For the first time in decades, the bill before us today carries a different short title,” Chairman Rogers said. “It is the Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement and National Defense Authorization Act. We did that to underscore the tremendous gains this bill makes toward improving the quality of life for our servicemembers and their families.”

“No servicemember should have to live in squalid conditions,” stated Rogers. “No military family should have to rely on food stamps to feed their children. And no one serving this country should have to wait weeks see a doctor or a mental health specialist. This bill will go a long way toward fixing that.”

Rogers had tasked a Quality of Life subcommittee with helping the Congress identify areas where the DoD needed to improve its benefits package.

The report produced by the subcommittee addressed critical issues facing military families, including the need for a 15% pay raise for servicemembers to ensure they can cover basic living expenses and invest in their futures. Recommendations include provisions for safe housing and improving access to childcare, spousal support programs, and healthcare services.

“Every servicemember in our Armed Forces made the selfless decision to serve and protect our nation. We owe it to these brave men and women to ensure they have adequate pay, safe housing, access to healthcare and childcare, and support for their spouses,” Rogers said.

“The Quality of Life Panel’s recommendations will serve as the foundation of the FY25 NDAA as we aim to make strides in improving the quality of life for servicemembers and their families. This is, without a doubt, the most important job that Congress has.”

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The ongoing war in Ukraine has demonstrated that the U.S. ability to keep a modern army equipped and supplied in the field has diminished since the end of the Cold War, partially due to a downsizing of the domestic industrial base. The U.S. efforts to supply Ukraine in its defense against Russia has been hampered by the slow production pace, particularly of 105mm artillery shells, but also missiles, armored vehicles, and even small arms.

“It is a good bill that will help revitalize the defense industrial base and build the ready, capable, and lethal fighting force we need to deter China and our other adversaries,” Rogers said.

Last year’s NDAA was delayed months due to partisan bickering between House Republicans and the Democratic controlled Senate after GOP House members added a number of partisan planks to the bill on the House floor. Rogers said that this NDAA was prepared on a bipartisan basis.

“I want to commend Ranking Member Smith and the staff for continuing our tradition of putting this bill together in a strong bipartisan manner,” said Rogers.” I also want to thank all the members for their input and assistance.”

Rogers and the Committee are considering nearly 700 amendments that cover a whole gamut of members’ issues.

“I urge all members to work together to get us through this process in a timely manner,” said Rogers. “There will be disagreements. But we all have the same goal: To support the men and women who serve our nation.”

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