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Subcommittee Examines FY2010 Defense Budget, Child Care and Sexual Assault

On May 21, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing on the FY2010 Defense Budget.

Gail H. McGinn, acting under secretary of Defense, Personnel, and Readiness at the Department of Defense, said, “The Department of Defense [DoD] has made family support a high priority in recognition of the crucial role families play in supporting servicemembers on the battlefield, a concept that has resounded during these times of multiple deployments. To ensure continuity in program delivery, the department increased the FY2010 Defense-wide baseline by shifting $234 [million] from the Overseas Contingency Operations funding to the baseline. The total FY2010 Defense-wide Family Assistance budget request, not including DoDEA [Department of Defense Education Activity], is $472 million to fund programs such as child care expansion, outreach to [National] Guard and Reserve, non-medical counseling, financial education and training, and access to training and certification opportunities for spouses. These programs are lifelines of support for military members and their families who are stationed around the globe. Our military leaders have testified to the inextricable link between investments in quality of life programs and readiness of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.”

With regard to child care, Ms. McGinn said, “DoD continues a strong commitment to child care and youth programs. Yet, some components still have unmet demand for child care. Efforts are ongoing to address an estimated shortage of approximately 37,000 child care spaces needed for active duty, Guard, and Reserve families, although the Air Force states that by the end of FY2009, the service will be able to meet its child care space requirements. The FY2010 Defense-wide budget includes $60 million to expand child care in civilian communities for public-private ventures. The department has exercised a robust program to accelerate child care capacity and increase spaces on a rapid basis. We need to eliminate barriers to hiring practices key to expanding our partnerships with community providers of child care. The temporary program to use minor military construction authority for the construction of child development centers provided a means to increase the availability of quality, affordable child care for Service members and their families.”

Under Secretary McGinn also detailed the department’s efforts to prevent sexual assault: “The department is committed to preventing sexual assault in our armed forces. Our aggressive training and outreach programs, victim-centered reporting options, large-scale prevention campaigns, and pursuit of improvements in training and [maintenance] have sent an unmistakable message: sexual assault violates the very essence of what it means to be a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine. The FY2010 budget has increased sexual assault prevention by approximately $20 million, which will be incrementally distributed to each military service, and their Reserve components for 4 full positions at military service, National Guard bureau, and Reserve component headquarters; the implementation and evaluation of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response standards by the military services; and to service sexual assault prevention and response efforts, including training, prevention and response.”

Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, deputy chief of staff G-1, United States Army, also discussed sexual assault in the military and outlined the Army’s “I. A.M. Strong” campaign, saying, “The secretary of the Army and the chief of staff remain personally involved in reinforcing to all soldiers and leaders the importance of preventing sexual assault. Under their guidance and leadership, the Army launched a new comprehensive sexual assault prevention campaign in 2008. The campaign centers on leaders establishing a positive command climate where sexual assault is clearly not acceptable. The campaign further encourages soldiers to execute peer-to-peer intervention personally, and not to tolerate behavior that, if left unchecked, may lead to sexual assault.” Lt. Gen. Rochelle continued, “The cornerstone of the Army’s prevention campaign is the ‘I. A.M. Strong’ program, where the letters I, A, and M stand for Intervene Act Motivate. The ‘I. A.M. Strong’ program features soldiers as influential role models and provides peer-to-peer messages outlining the Army’s intent for all its members to personally take action in the effort to protect our communities. Leaders have embraced ‘I. A.M. Strong’ initiatives and are motivating soldiers to engage proactively and prevent sexual assault. The secretary of the Army helped kick off Phase II of the ‘I. A.M. Strong’ campaign last month at our second annual Sexual Assault Prevention Summit. Our campaign extends through 2013, as we work to be the nation’s leader in sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention.”

He added, “Our strategy culminates with the Army recognized as the nation’s leader when it comes to investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases. The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC) are in the process of adding investigators and prosecutors at our busiest jurisdictions. The intent of this initiative is to create a capability similar to civilian special victims units. The CID and JAGC are also hiring national recognized subject matter experts in the field of sexual assault as consultants, advisors, and trainers…The Army expended over $20 million in FY2008 for our sexual assault prevention campaign; we are projected to expend over $42 million in FY2009; and we expect to allocate approximately $67 million in FY2010. To date, our prevention campaign is successfully leading cultural change and establishing the Army as the blueprint for the nation on sexual assault prevention.”

Lt. Gen. Ronald S. Coleman, deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserves, United States, Marine Corps, discussed efforts underway to improve child care services for military families, saying, “To address a wide variety of identified needs, we are using multiple strategies to increase our child care capacity, such as expanded hours, partnerships, on and off-base family child care, and child development group home spaces. We are now providing 16 hours of reimbursed respite care per month for families with a deployed Marine, and intend to increase respite care availability aboard our installations. In addition, the Marine Corps has expanded partnerships that provide long- and short-term support for Marines and their families who are not located near our major installations. Through our partnership with the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, we have been able to provide an additional 798 child care spaces to geographically dispersed, deployed and severely injured service members’ children.”

He continued, “We are currently providing 11,757 child care spaces and meeting 63.6 percent of the calculated total need…To meet the Department of Defense standard of 80 percent of potential need, we would require slightly over 3,000 additional spaces. To address this requirement, Congress has funded 915 additional spaces in FY2008 and 2009. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [P.L. 111-5] Overseas Contingency Operations request will provide an additional 1,700 spaces. We are also considering additional modular child development centers, subject to more detailed planning and availability of funds. Continued congressional support will help us provide these needed facilities. As the needs of our families change, our program is committed to grow and adapt to meet these needs.”

“We continued to increase available, affordable, quality child care spaces for Airmen,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton, III, deputy chief of staff, Manpower and Personnel, United States Air Force, who echoed Lt. Gen. Coleman’s remarks regarding child care. “Thanks to the temporary legislative authority for child care projects, the ‘Growing Child Care Spaces’ initiative funded minor construction projects to increase available child care by 1,242 spaces. Seven additional military construction projects were approved, which will further increase child care spaces by 1,718. We funded additional facilities through the economic stimulus package and will produce 836 more spaces as a result. When all funded construction is complete, our known child care space deficit will be eliminated. Our next challenge will be to renovate or replace the aging infrastructure at child development and youth centers.Lt. Gen. Newton continued, “The Air Force leans forward to assist airmen who need additional child care during changing shifts or extended duty days. The Air Force Expanded Child Care program provides 16,000 hours of child care each month during non-traditional hours at no cost to the military member. During 2008, we expanded the Air Force Home Community Care program to provide free in-home quality child care during scheduled drill weekends, which reduced out-of-pocket expenses for Air Reserve and Air National Guard members. This program offers the same level of quality child care as is available on military installations. The program includes 43 participating family child care homes in 36 locations typically isolated from active duty bases.

Vice Admiral Mark E. Ferguson, III, United States Navy, chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy chief of Naval Operations (Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education), also testified.

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