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Military News For July 22, 2022

Military News

This column notes significant developments in the military community on a weekly basis. Our focus is on the news affecting military families and the military community rather than reporting on troop movements, deployments, military hardware, or similar news. Our military news roundup features the latest information that can affect readiness, quality of life, retention, and other important aspects of military life.

Military News For The Week Of July 22, 2022

The United States Navy is getting bad press for a seeming inability to process separation paperwork in a timely manner. Military.com reports one sailor being forced to wait over 100 days for his separation orders–that sailor had to resort to contacting his senator about the problem.

But it wasn’t until a Military.com reporter started looking into the matter that the Navy finally cut those separation orders. That, according to the sailor quoted in the article, was enough to convince him that “the Navy doesn’t care”. About 37,000 sailors separate from the Navy every year and as part of that separation process, there are documents that must be sent 60 days prior to separation.

The U.S. Navy says thousands of these people face delays because the required paperwork is stuck in a backlog. Some “seventy percent” of all transactions are currently submitted within the 60-day window. The other 30%? Waiting times of 100 days or longer are currently reported.

U.S. Army Announces New Office Of Special Trial Counsel

The Army has plans for new handling of prosecution and trial procedures for major crimes including sexual assault. The Army Office of Special Trial Counsel is expected to remove certain decisions for prosecuting such crimes from the chain of command. An Army press release announces the following types of criminal activity that will be prosecuted by the Office of Special Trial Counsel:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Child sex crimes
  • Child pornography
  • “Wrongful broadcast of intimate images”
  • Kidnapping
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking
  • Retaliation

This is part of a larger effort to revamp Army policies for issues such as sexual assault, stalking, and other crimes.

U.S. Marines Nominate First-Ever Black Four-Star General

The Washington Post’s headline is telling. “After 246 years, Marines set for their first Black four-star general” is at once a scathing observation about the nature of some aspects of American society, and a true appreciation for the U.S. Marine Corps finally moving into the 21st century where representation, inclusion, and diversity are concerned.

The very first Black Marine Corps officer set to become a four-star general is Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley. The Post notes that in the 246 years before Langley, some 70 white officers have risen to the highest ranks of the Marine Corps. Prior to Langley, there were “a handful” of Black officers who rose to the rank of three-star generals in the Marines, but no four-star generals.

Military ID Card Replacement

Spouses, dependents, and retirees with “no expiration date” military ID cards must update those cards within the next four years. The Department of Defense says replacements can be updated to the new Next Generation Uniform Services Identification card also known as USID when it is convenient but that transition must happen before the four-year period expires.

The old ID cards will be completely phased out by 2026. Current ID cards with expiration dates must be replaced within 90 days of expiring.

Military Child Care Program Expanding

The Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood-Plus program is expanding. This program, designed to help cut child care expenses for military families, expands to Miami-Dade County, Colorado, and Texas.

The program started in 2019 as a pilot in Maryland and Virginia. It later expanded to Nevada and Washington before the new announcement. The program is meant to lower child care costs in the community to something closer to what a parent would expect to pay using an on-base Child Development Center. Child care fees on military installations are established using “total family income” to help set the cost.

The pilot program pays the difference between that income-based payment and what local child care providers charge. Information on military child care options can be found at ChildCareAware.org.

Veteran Crisis Line Update

There is a new, easier-to-remember number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

9-8-8 is now the national number you can call when facing a mental health emergency. Calling 9-8-8 and dialing 1 puts you in touch with the Veteran Crisis Line, allowing veterans and active duty military members faster and easier access to trained assistance.

The 9-8-8 option is in addition to the original number for the Veteran Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255. The 1-800 number still works but VA officials note that the new, shorter number may enhance access–calls are expected to increase two and a half times last year’s crisis line call numbers. If you struggle with suicidal thoughts or are worried about someone who is struggling, call 9-8-8 as soon as you can. If you are in danger of harming yourself, call 9-11 immediately.

Military Family Network Survey Reveals Housing Struggles For Nearly Half Of All Military Families

The Military Family Network (MFAN) has issued a study that notes that roughly 45% of military families today experience a major financial burden related to housing. The survey shows these families spend more than half their household income on housing costs including rent and utilities.

By comparison, veterans and retirees spend some 20%. Increasing housing costs, inflation, and global economic woes contribute to higher costs in general but the lack of available military housing complicates these issues for some families. Poor conditions in military housing for those who are offered the chance to live on-post or on-base further complicates the housing issue.

Military Times reports the Military Family Support Programming Survey was held online with more than eight thousand responses. Among the largest demographic for those responders? Spouses of active duty members represented some 44% of the survey.

Active duty servicemembers made up just over 40%. The survey notes that frequent military family separations due to deployments, hardship duty, and other issues also contribute to a great deal of dissatisfaction and disillusionment among military families.

And the picture isn’t much prettier for military families which stay together. In 2021, families who made permanent change of station (PCS) moves had trouble getting reimbursed for moving expenses, and there were troubles with spouse employment at the new assignment. Changes in the cost of living at a new base were also factors creating more dissatisfaction among troops and families.