Breaking down barriers for U.S. military families


Since the transition to a fully voluntary force, the US military has had to pay special attention to recruitment and retention. The challenges in these areas are not getting easier. The military missed its recruiting target of 6,500 troops last year. This is not very favorable, at a time when the Pentagon wants to increase the army to more than 24,000 soldiers. The Air Force is facing a shortage of more than 1,200 pilots, which equates to a loss of $ 12 billion in capital. The replacement pool for the military is also shrinking. Today, a majority of young Americans are ineligible to serve in the military, primarily due to inadequate education, crime, and obesity.

To combat declining recruitment and retention, the military is considering tailoring the military experience to the interests and talents of service members, allowing them to have a say in their assignments. Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, noted some clear benefits of adopting a market-based opportunity system for military service members. “It allows each officer to identify their skills, knowledge, attributes and talents and bring them to market, and allows units to identify the officers they want”? ? he said.

The Army is not alone in pursuing market-based measures to improve retention and uniform experience. The Air Force and Navy are exploring options to give Airmen and Sailors more time with their families to compete with the more flexible private sector where workers can more easily spend time with their families. But increasing individual job satisfaction is not the only solution. More than half of modern military personnel are married. As such, their family concerns, especially the education of their dependents, weigh heavily in their decisions about whether or not to remain in uniform.

This is where a new proposal presented to the House by Jim Banks and to the Senate by Ben sasseBen Sasse Democrats outraged after Manchin opposes Biden’s spending bill Senate confirms Rahm Emanuel will be ambassador to Japan The Hill’s Morning Report – Brought to you by ExxonMobil – House to vote on social spending bill of Biden after McCarthy delay MORE, Tom’s CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP steps up flirtation with Manchin Kyrsten Sinema is less of a political conundrum than a strategic decision maker Antitrust law puts consumers and small businesses at risk MORE, and Tim scottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Brought to you by Facebook – Supreme Court clears Texas abortion ban lawsuit Rapper French Montana talks about opioid epidemic and immigration to Capitol Hill How Expanding Credit Data Can Help Fight Inequality MORE comes into play. The proposal would give education savings accounts to children of active-duty military families. Extending school choice to military families is a policy that could pay major dividends in alleviating the pressing recruitment and retention issues that create significant challenges for our armed forces.

There is currently glaring dissatisfaction with education options for military dependents. Children from military-related families are typically assigned to the public school closest to the parent’s assigned base, and 80 percent of military children attend public schools. But only 34 percent of active-duty military parents in an Ed Choice survey believed the local public school was the best fit for their children.

In fact, a Military Times survey found that 35% of its readers, which included service members from all branches of the military, either declined promotions or considered leaving the military due to poor education choices. for their children. Improved educational opportunities through military education savings accounts can help alleviate the retention problem in the military. Education savings accounts would allow parents to tailor their children’s education to their specific needs.

The proposal would provide a $ 6,000 education savings account for children of military families. They could use it to pay for private school tuition, online learning, programs, books, and special education services if needed. Families could carry over unused funds from year to year and could transfer unused funds to college savings accounts.

Although this is a relatively new idea, 72 percent of the military said they supported it. Such a policy would provide military families with the flexibility to ensure that their children find learning options that are right for them, given their unique circumstances. It also aligns the interests of military families with the goals of an effective, efficient and vibrant armed forces. Parents in the military would no longer have to make a difficult choice between serving their country and educating their children.

Pentagon executives have rightly recognized that market-based options can improve the workplace. Now they have the chance to extend this logic to education. Military education savings accounts would allow parents to have real control over where their children learn rather than leaving their children trapped in the school closest to their duty station, a change aligned with the broader thrust of the armed forces for a tailored military experience. The military are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. Nor should we ask them to sacrifice the future of their children.

Frederico Bartels is Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting at the Center for National Defense of the Heritage Foundation. Jude Schwalbach is a policy researcher at the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation.


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