Pentagon introduces new food, housing program for soldiers

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon announced a number of new programs Thursday aimed at helping service members who are struggling with housing shortages and food and living expenses as they move from base to base.

Under Secretary for Personnel Gil Cisneros told reporters that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the steps, including programs to expand child care and make it easier for spouses to find work.

The new programs “will help ensure that we continue to offer a competitive suite of benefits that makes DoD the employer of choice for those who serve so selflessly,” he said.

With increasing competition from corporations seeking to hire youth in a tight job market, military services are struggling to meet their enlistment goals.

One of the major problems in the last one or two years has been housing. Service members relocating to new duty stations have complained about difficulties in finding fares, particularly those that may exceed their military allowance as rising housing costs. In response, Austin ordered an increase in the basic housing allowance in 28 areas where rents have increased by more than 20% from current allowances.

Austin also directed a permanent increase in temporary housing expenses for service members moving to areas with housing shortages. Soldiers will now get 14 days to travel within the US for temporary living costs instead of the previous 10 and up to 60 days in areas with housing shortages.

Both housing changes will take effect next month.

Austin also ordered price cuts in base commissionerates.

Brigadier Pentagon Press Secretary General Pat Ryder said the department is eliminating the requirement that commissaries maintain a specific profit margin to cover their operating costs, allowing them to reduce prices on staples such as bread, milk and eggs. be allowed. Service members should see some prices drop by about 25% within about two weeks, he said.

Austin has also directed the department to increase funding for child care centers so that they can take more children. And they made a standard policy that service members working at centers be given a 50% discount for a child to go there.

And he said the department would work more quickly to establish interstate agreements to help military wives transfer their professional licenses when they move to a different state. When a service member is deployed on a new basis, spouses often find it difficult to find a new job because their licenses or professional certificates are not recognized in that state.

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