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Military News Briefs for the Week of June 30, 2000

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2000 – (This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service news stories for the week ending June 30, 2000.)

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DE LEON RENEWS POW/MIA FULL ACCOUNTING PLEDGE

Accounting for those missing from past wars is a matter affecting today's readiness not just payment of a debt come due, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Rudy de Leon.

Today's service members count on the nation's commitment to do all it can to find them and bring them home if they are captured, listed as missing in action or fall on the field of battle, he said in a June 22 speech to the National League of Families of POW/MIA in Southeast Asia.

De Leon reaffirmed DoD's pledge to account for veterans missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

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22 ASIAN AMERICANS INDUCTED INTO HALL OF FAME

Twenty-two Asian-American soldiers were finally recognized for their heroism when they received the nation's highest military award -- the Medal of Honor -- during a White House ceremony June 21.

Army Secretary Louis Caldera inducted the soldiers into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes on June 22. The men received the awards for their heroic actions on the World War II battlefields of Italy, France and Germany.

In honoring the 22 heroes, President Clinton said, "It's long past time to break the silence about their courage ... . Rarely has a nation been so well-served by a people it has so ill-treated."

Twenty of the Medal of Honor recipients were members of the Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion or 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The regiment, originally led solely by white officers, amalgamated the 100th battalion in 1944. Two other recipients were Second Lt. Rudolph B. Davila served with the 7th Infantry Division, and Capt. Francis B. Wai with the 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division.

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DOD ANNOUNCES SLIGHT CHILD CARE FEE HIKE

Fees at military child care facilities will increase by about $1 to $2 more per child each week for the 2000-2001 school year, DoD officials announced June 21.

The fees keep pace with estimates of inflation. DoD family policy officials review and update child care fees annually.

Depending on their total family income, DoD families will pay between $40 and $116 per child per week during the upcoming school year. The fee represents about half the cost of child care, the remainder is paid with appropriated funds from Congress.

How much parents pay for military child care is based on the family's total income. This includes all earned income -- wages, salaries, tips, long-term disability benefits and voluntary salary deferrals. It also includes service members' combat pay, housing and subsistence allowances, and the value of meals and lodging furnished in-kind to military personnel residing on military installations.

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TOP NCOS CALL FOR PAY, QUALITY OF LIFE REFORMS

Nearly 85 top NCOs and about 60 spouses at the first annual Senior Enlisted Advisors' Forum told DoD leaders their opinions about pay, compensation, child and medical care, retention, recruiting, schools and education.

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen, hosted the June 22 conference.

One NCO told Cohen and other top brass that further pay table reform is needed. DoD needs to look at the pay gap between the officer corps and the enlisted corps, he said.

Another NCO asked the secretary to look into extending the hours at child development centers. He called on Pentagon leaders to look at the competitiveness of child care providers' pay. DoD also needs to make more programs available for pre- teens and teenagers, he said.

Another NCO talked about the top NCOs' views on TRICARE. She said service members and their families need more education on the program. Transferring benefits from one region to another is a common problem, she said.

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