WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced today that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 finalized by the House-Senate Conference Committee includes several provision he championed to support military families.
“We owe an immense debt of gratitude to the military families who make sacrifices every day in service to our country – supporting their well-being is our responsibility, and absolutely fundamental to our national security,” Blumenthal said. “I’m proud to have championed these measures, which will give military moms, dads, partners, and kids more resources and greater support to withstand the rigors of life in the military. It is only the beginning – our servicemembers and their families are our military’s greatest resource, and I’m going to keep fighting for them.”
Military families make immense sacrifices and confront unique challenges, including frequent moves, the stress of deployments, and the difficulty of caring for a loved one who has been injured. Family members provide servicemembers with an invaluable support system, and their well-being is essential to overall military readiness and our national security.
This year’s NDAA recognizes that military family readiness is an essential element of overall military readiness by making significant investments in the services that our nation’s Blue Star families rely upon. The legislation includes Blumenthal-authored provisions to:
· Make Child Care More Affordable for Families: This provision requires a 15 percent reduction in fees for all additional children of the same military family receiving child care from a Childcare Development Center. This fee reduction is currently optional, but will be made mandatory. This provision is based on the Child Care Affordability and Accessibility for Military Families Act, which Blumenthal introduced with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).
· Expand Support for Pregnant Servicemembers and Military Spouses: This provision establishes a five-year pilot program to provide TRICARE beneficiaries with access to doulas and lactation consultants. This provision is based on the TRICARE Coverage for Doula Support Act, which Blumenthal introduced with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
· Study Mental Health Resources for Military Moms: This provision requires a study to better understand prenatal and postpartum mental health conditions among servicemembers and dependents, which will help identify and remove barriers to maternal mental health care in the military. This provision is based on the Military Moms’ Mental Health Assessment Act, which Blumenthal introduced with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).
· Including Military Families in Consumer Safety Reports: Currently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not have access to adverse event data related to injuries or deaths on military bases from consumer products, which is critical to ensuring that military families are protected from dangerous products. This provision would ensure that any adverse event related to a consumer product that occurs on a military installation is reported on the internet website saferproducts.gov, maintained by the CPSC.
· Help Military Families Through the COVID-19 Pandemic: This provision directs the Comptroller General to study the delivery of mental health services to servicemembers their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The social isolation and travel restrictions, including stop-movement orders, necessary to combat the outbreak of the novel coronavirus will disproportionately impact the military community. These measures have already extended deployments and family separations. Military families are experiencing additional challenges during PCS moves, lack of access to child care, loss of civilian spouse employment, and decreased access to health care resources.
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