print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
In Focus
News by Date
Federal Facts
West Wing

 Home > News & Policies > August 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 18, 2004

Supporting and Strengthening the Military and Military Families

     Fact sheet In Focus: Defense

President Bush supports our men and women in uniform and their families. Since 2001, the President's budgets have provided an increase in basic pay for men and women in the military by 21 percent, improved military housing for families living on base, and provided better training and maintenance, and are reducing average housing expenses to zero for military families living off base. In 2003, President Bush requested $87 billion in supplemental funding from Congress to help ensure that the troops fighting the War on Terror have the resources, including body armor and vital equipment, hazard pay, health care, ammunition, fuel and spare parts, to accomplish their mission. The President's proposals address other challenges facing military personnel and their families, including:

Increasing Education Benefits for Reservists and Members of the National Guard
Over 400,000 brave men and women in the Reserves and the National Guard have been mobilized to fight the war on terror since September 11. Today, 147,672 citizen-soldiers are mobilized and serving our country. Educational assistance is a major benefit for members of the National Guard and Reserve; however, the amount of this benefit for these individuals who are called up for extended periods of time is substantially lower than the active-duty benefit. Unlike the active-duty benefit, which has kept pace with the cost of higher education, the Reserve and Guard benefit has lagged behind. To bring this benefit more in line with the military service of the Reservists and members of the National Guard, the President today proposed to increase their monthly education benefit. Reservists and members of the National Guard who have been continuously mobilized for more than 90 days, serving on or after September 11, 2001, will be eligible for this benefit.

Assisting Military Families During Frequent Moves
Our Nation's commitments are being kept by the men and women in our military, and the President believes the cause of freedom is in good hands. There are many challenges for military families as well. One in four military families moves across county lines in a given year, compared to 1 in 12 civilian families. Frequent moves between states pose challenges for military children, in particular with educational issues. The President supports the families that stand behind the men and women of our military, and his new proposals seek to further ease the pressures of life in the military by providing greater stability and predictability.

  • Helping Military Children Avoid Disruption of Educational Progress: A military child changes school on average every three years. These children and their families face different or conflicting state academic requirements, school calendars, special education qualifications, and extracurricular eligibility standards. States may also have different age and vaccination rules for kindergarten and 1st grade students. To prevent disruption in the educational progress of military students and ease stress on military families, the President's FY 2005 budget proposed a $10 million grant program at the Department of Education for states to create voluntary reciprocity agreements to address the special needs of students of military personnel. In addition, the Department of Defense continues to encourage state universities to extend in-state tuition to any child of a military family that resides in-state.

Ongoing Support for Our Men and Women in Uniform and Their Families
President Bush has promised, and delivered, better pay, better treatment, and better training to members of the Armed Forces. This support attracts America's best into the military and gives them the incentive to remain in the Armed Forces.

  • Better Pay: Since 2001, the President's four budgets have increased basic pay by 21 percent. President Bush also increased monthly Imminent Danger pay from $150 to $225 and has proposed doubling Hardship Duty pay.
  • Expanded Benefits: The President signed the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003 which extends tax filing deadlines for servicemembers in combat zones, provides deductions for Guard and Reserve members who incur expenses while traveling long distances for military service, and doubles the death gratuity payment for the families of servicemembers while on active duty or training.

  • Better Housing: Until recently, servicemembers who lived off base had to pay for 15 to 20 percent of their housing costs. Since 2001, President Bush's four budgets are reducing to zero the average out-of-pocket housing expenses for servicemembers and their families living off base. The President has also directed the Department of Defense to eliminate 120,000 inadequate base housing units by 2007.

  • Better Transition Assistance:

    • Health Care: The President has authorized through December 2004, and supports continuing important expansions of, health care benefits for Reservists and their family members, up to 90 days before they report for active duty and for 180 days after deactivation. The Department of Veterans Affairs is also reaching out to 136 military bases to provide America's returning servicemembers with VA services to bring about a seamless transition for new veterans to civilian status. To date, more than 32,000 veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq have received VA care.
    • Job-Training: Today, the Department of Labor expanded the use of National Emergency Grant (NEG) funds to ensure that members of the Guard and Reserve who were required to interrupt their employment-related training or benefits due to a deployment have options enabling them to complete training upon their return home. DOL also expanded the use of NEG funds to serve spouses of returning members of the Guard and Reserve and surviving spouses of military personnel who lost their lives while deployed.