Monday night, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the yearly must-pass bill that shapes policy at DoD. The House and Senate will now work to reconcile the differences between the two versions of the NDAA before sending the bill to the President to be signed into law.
There are several NDAA provisions that we’re tracking. Some of our high-priority items are:
- Military Sexual Assault: Both versions of the NDAA include the PRIVATE Act (S.1296/H.R.2052), IAVA-backed legislation to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice to prohibit a person from knowingly and wrongfully distributing intimate images without consent. The provision, in response to a photo sharing scandal that came to light earlier this year, is in both House and Senate bills, so survival in the final version is very likely. In addition, the House NDAA includes several provisions that improve protections for survivors of military sexual assault and improve treatment options.
- Military Pay Raise: Both versions of the NDAA include military pay raises for servicemembers. The Senate version has a 2.1% pay raise, while the House version of the NDAA calls for a more generous pay raise of 2.4%.
- DoD/VA Transfer of Care: The House NDAA allows DoD to support the VA in the adoption of an Electronic Health Record System and requires DoD and VA to jointly submit annual reports to Congress on developing an interoperable health record. The House NDAA also requires DoD, with the VA, to issue a report on possible improvements to processing retirements and medical discharges.
- Mental Health/Suicide Prevention: Both the House and Senate NDAA have a one-year extension of suicide prevention and resilience program for the National Guard and Reserves. The House NDAA also makes permanent DoD’s requirement for mental health assessments during deployment and protects the Vets4Warriror crisis hotline.
- Other Than Honorable or “Bad Paper” Discharges: The House NDAA requires that servicemembers who receive an other than honorable discharge to be provided written notification that they can petition the Veterans Health Administration to receive benefits. The House NDAA also directs DoD to report to Congress on the implementation of U.S. Government Accountability Office recommendations that ensure PTSD and TBI are considered in misconduct separations.
We’ll continue to monitor and advocate for NDAA provisions that work to improve the lives of post-9/11 servicemembers and veterans, and we’ll have a more comprehensive rundown of the bill when it’s signed by the President. Stay tuned! We’ve got your back!