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Immediate Release

Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough's Virtual Meeting With Military and Veterans Service Organizations

Pentagon Spokesperson Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder provided the following readout:

Today, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough spoke virtually with leaders from more than 30 military and veterans service organizations. 

Both secretaries thanked the organizations for their collective leadership, ongoing collaboration, and shared priority of ensuring the care and well-being of service members, veterans, military families, caregivers, and survivors. 

"Our most precious resource will always be our people, and the Department of Defense has recently launched several major initiatives to take even better care of all of our people," said Secretary Austin. "We've increased pay allowances, we've cut costs at commissaries, we've expanded access to excellent childcare, and we've improved job opportunities for military spouses, and we've made moving to a new duty station easier. We've done a lot, but we're nowhere close to being done yet, and we're going to stay focused on making life better for our Service members and their families." 

Topics of discussion included access to mental health care, suicide prevention, the PACT Act and related benefits, support for families, and the 50th anniversary of the All-Volunteer Force. 

"We have a particular focus between now and August 9th of this year, which is the following: If a veteran or a survivor files a claim under the PACT Act on or before August 9th, 2023, in all likelihood, that veteran or survivor will have an effective date of August 10th, 2022. So there is a great incentive to file claims under the PACT Act no later than August 9th, 2023," Secretary McDonough said. "So please, as you're communicating with your members and with your partners, please urge them to be in touch with us at to ensure that they file a claim no later than August 9th."

Both secretaries affirmed their continued collaboration with each other and with the many organizations that serve our military and veteran community.