For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 18, 2004
Supporting and Strengthening the Military and Military Families
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
Over 400,000 brave men and women in the Reserves and the National
have been mobilized to fight the war on terror since September 11.
Today, 147,672 citizen-soldiers are mobilized and serving our
Educational assistance is a major benefit for members of the
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
benefit, which has kept pace with the cost of higher education, the
Reserve and Guard benefit has lagged behind. To bring this benefit
in line with the military service of the Reservists and members of
National Guard, the President today proposed to increase their
education benefit. Reservists and members of the National Guard
been continuously mobilized for more than 90 days, serving on or
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
hands. There are many challenges for military families as well.
four military families moves across county lines in a given year,
compared to 1 in 12 civilian families. Frequent moves between
pose challenges for military children, in particular with
issues. The President supports the families that stand behind the
and women of our military, and his new proposals seek to further
pressures of life in the military by providing greater stability
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
President Bush has promised, and delivered, better pay, better
and better training to members of the Armed Forces. This support
attracts America's best into the military and gives them the
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.
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