The Pentagon has unveiled a comprehensive plan aimed at the welfare of U.S. military force and their families.
The new six-point plan, announced by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, addresses essential needs in education, childcare, parental leave, and career advancement.
Austin said the Department of Defense is committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of these measures.
He is directing the implementation of Universal Prekindergarten at DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) Schools, Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) for Service Members, New Military Parental Leave Benefits, Improvements to the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Expanded Spouse Eligibility for My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Financial Assistance, and Portability and Best Practices for Professional Licenses.
The DoD said in a statement that it is collaborating with Congress to secure funding for universal prekindergarten at DoDEA schools. The program is set to undergo a phased implementation over a five-year period, providing high-quality early education for military children.
To alleviate financial pressure on service members with dependents, the DoD will enable access to Dependent Care FSAs, allowing them to set aside up to $5,000 in pretax income through payroll deductions for eligible dependent care expenses.
The DoD is actively promoting new parental leave benefits that provide 12 weeks of paid, non-chargeable leave to service members welcoming a child into their family through birth, adoption, or long-term foster-care placement. This initiative supports the well-being and work-life balance of US military families.
To support career advancement for military spouses, eligibility for MyCAA financial assistance will be expanded to E-6 and O-3 ranks. This program provides up to $4,000 in aid for obtaining a license, certificate, or associate degree.
The DoD will continue efforts to make professional licenses portable for military families, working with states to encourage sharing of licensure best practices and approval of occupational licensure compacts. This initiative aims to reduce barriers to employment for military spouses.
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