WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) touted significant commitments in the final version of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) while highlighting provisions he authored that were included in the bill.
The NDAA invests in our military and authorizes $738 billion in critical funding to ensure servicemembers have the tools and resources they need to protect national security. It makes significant investments in research and development for key defense technologies that will help the U.S. maintain its competitive advantage. It invests in our servicemembers by including a 3.1 percent pay increase for military personnel, and it continues to build readiness across the services.
“Supporting our defense must be a top priority as we face evolving threats to our national security. This bill supports our men and women in uniform and strengthens our military forces so we can deter conflict or be well prepared for it if deterrence fails now or in the future. I’m pleased my colleagues understood the importance of incorporating my provisions that accommodate the needs of the Air Force Reserve and our nation’s veterans,” Boozman said.
One long-fought for reform included in the NDAA is a repeal of the “widow’s tax” which prevents surviving families of deceased military members from receiving the full Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits for which they are eligible.
“Elimination of the widow’s tax is a big victory that has been a long time coming for surviving family members. Many of my colleagues and I have sought this change for years as the current policy that forces survivors to take reduced benefits fails to uphold the promise that was made to our men and women in uniform and their families,” Boozman said.
Several provisions authored by Boozman were included in the final version, including one that transfers nearly 141 acres of land at Camp Robinson to the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. This provision is based on a bill introduced by Boozman and members of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation that would secure land to expand burial space for veterans.
“This is a commonsense solution that helps the Army Guard and the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs. The land is costly to maintain and not useful to the guard for training. It will provide a valuable expansion of burial space for veterans – an important step to securing a place of honor for future generations of veterans. This land conveyance will help the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs provide the men and women who served in uniform a final resting place that appropriately acknowledges their service and sacrifice,” Boozman said.
Along with the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery language, the NDAA includes the following Boozman-authored provisions:
Expands Arlington National Cemetery: The nation’s most sacred shrine, Arlington National Cemetery, is reaching its burial capacity. Cemetery officials have worked diligently to expand in order to preserve burials into the future. This provision, which authorizes a land exchange between the U.S. Army and the National Park Service, will allow more burial space for veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. The exchange will also enable an improvement to the entrance of the cemetery.
Broadens Wounded Warriors Adaptive Sports Programs: Military Services Adaptive Sports Programs are important rehabilitation tools. This provision will allow veterans who were enrolled in their respective service’s Wounded Warrior Program to continue rehabilitative services for one year after their date of separation. This would permit the Department of Defense to use appropriated funds to cover travel, lodging and per diem for veterans for one year from date of separation to continue or complete the member’s physical, psychological and social rehabilitation.
Increases Number of Air Force Reservists Serving on Full-Time Reserve: This provision provides an authorization for additional full-time Reservists, one of the top priorities for the Air Force Reserve.