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DoD to Address Quality of Life Concerns

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

NOLFOLK, Va., Oct. 12, 1999 – Defense officials are pleased with the passage of the Defense Authorization Act that includes new pay incentives, but they say more must be done to improve the quality of service members' lives.

"[The act] contained many provisions for the Defense Department, to enhance our readiness, to improve our modernization, and, of course, to take care of the quality of life for our great men and women in uniform," said Army Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a press conference here Oct. 7. "It contained the biggest pay raise in [almost] two decades, the first pay reform since World War II and it ended the redux retirement system, which had become a disincentive [to service members]."

Neither Shelton nor Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said the authorization act solved all of DoD's problems, but they said they believe the emphasis of the act on service members is correct.

With the act now history, Defense officials are looking to the fiscal 2001 budget. They wouldn't discuss particulars but gave some indication of the direction DoD would like to go.

"I've said time-and-again that we can't pay service members enough, but the pay raise this year and those that follow are a good start," Cohen told reporters traveling with him. "Now we have other quality of life issues to explore."

Cohen mentioned the high operations tempo as a particular concern. He said DoD is looking at ways to make deployments more predictable.

He said DoD must do something about the substandard housing across the services, address childcare concerns, increase recreational opportunities and find other ways to improve life for families.

Related Site of Interest: FY2000 Defense Authorization Act

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