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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

New York Lawmakers Push to Ease Transition for Military Spouses

  • February 23, 2015
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Legislation introduced in the New York State Assembly would streamline the process for military spouses to transfer professional licenses and certifications when moving to the state. “When a family is stationed in a new state, the hosting state should streamline the licensing process in order to make their lives as easy as possible. Similar legislation has previously passed the state Senate; we have to get this bill to the floor as soon as possible to make New York more suitable for veterans and all New Yorkers,” said Assemblyman David DiPietro (R), one of the cosponsors of Assembly Bill 2590 …

Finding Consensus on Best Approach to Reforming Commissary Benefit Proves Elusive

  • February 22, 2015
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Neither the Pentagon’s plan for slashing the federal subsidy for military grocery stores nor a congressional commission’s recommendations for gaining efficiencies in the commissary system will prove successful, according to two recent analyses. Last month, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission called for consolidating DOD’s three exchange services with the Defense Commissary Agency as a way to maintain the benefits of all base stores. Consolidating those four organizations into a new Defense Resale Activity, though, would cost $466 million and take from six to nine years to carry out, according to a position paper from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. The upfront costs wouldn’t be recouped through efficiencies for 85 years, AAFES concluded …

No BRAC in Near Future, Thornberry Says

  • February 22, 2015
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Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) ruled out any chance there would be a new round of base closures in the next couple of years during comments he made last week to the Nortex Regional Planning Commission in north central Texas. The remark built on earlier comments by the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee revealing a strong reluctance to consider authorizing a BRAC round. In January, Thornberry said the nation needed to better define the future roles and missions of its military before shuttering military bases …

Monterey Residents Take Advantage of Opportunity to Reimagine Fort Ord

  • February 22, 2015
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During a two-week planning process this month, about 1,200 people from California’s Monterey Peninsula offered their input to guide development at the former Fort Ord. The series of public meetings were held to collect ideas for regional urban design guidelines the Fort Ord Reuse Authority is creating to establish standards for road design, setbacks, building height, landscaping, signage, and other matters of visual importance. The guidelines will be used in conjunction with the base reuse plan but are not a code or standard that is a legally binding requirement needed to develop a project at Fort Ord, reported the Monterey Herald. FORA Executive Officer Michael Houlemard said the guidelines’ addition to the reuse plan will cut through legal confusion …

Huntsville Officials Confident as Possible BRAC Approaches

  • February 22, 2015
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While it’s still uncertain when the next round of base closures will be held, leaders in northern Alabama believe they have taken the necessary steps to ensure Redstone Arsenal is well positioned. “We have been pretty aggressive in our efforts to get ready for BRAC so we see it both as a threat and an opportunity and we are trying to make sure that we have considered what opportunities there are and prepared ourselves to get ready,” said Mike Ward, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce …

Post-9/11 Veterans in the O.C. Unprepared for Transition

  • February 22, 2015
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A new survey of post-9/11 veterans in Orange County, Calif., revealed a population that is not prepared for life after the military, with health issues, and problems finding a job and housing all contributing to that assessment. Sixty-one percent of post-9/11 veterans are having difficulties adjusting to civilian life, according to the survey of 1,227 veterans conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research. Forty-four percent of post-9/11 respondents screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder …

Wittman Argues against Administration’s BRAC Request

  • February 20, 2015
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At last week’s hearing of the House Armed Services Committee with defense experts on where savings could be found in the defense budget, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), chairman of the committee’s readiness panel, focused on the witnesses’ support for a new round of base closures as one avenue for cutting costs. At the outset of the hearing, Bensahel listed a new BRAC round as one of three priorities for reforming DOD spending. “The Army and the Air Force have each estimated that they have around 20 percent excess capacity. It is unconscionable to require these services to continue spending money on facilities that they do not need while the budget caps require them to cut end strength, training, and readiness, which puts American troops at risk …

Ft. Benning Supporters Focus on Local Partnerships at Listening Session

  • February 19, 2015
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More than 500 people showed up to support Fort Benning during its Army listening session Wednesday, with local leaders and lawmakers emphasizing the close relationship and varied partnerships between Columbus, Ga., and the post. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson highlighted the scenic gateway project on Victory Drive greeting soldiers and visitors to Benning. Tomlinson also cited a joint recycling effort, improvements at the local water treatment plant and a veterans court, reported the Ledger-Enquirer. “You are our neighbor,” she said. “Fort Benning is our community partner and you are our family …

DOD Has Not Drafted Alternate FY’16 Budget to Meet Spending Cap

  • February 19, 2015
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Pentagon officials do not have a backup spending plan for fiscal 2016 in the event that lawmakers fail to lift the $499 billion spending cap for the department’s base budget, Comptroller Mike McCord said this week. “The answer right now is no, we do not have an alternate plan,” McCord said. Budget officials had developed alternate budgets in past years to prepare for the possibility of sequestration, he said, but the department believed preparing multiple budgets was not worth the effort …

DOE Initiative Preparing Service Members for Solar Industry Jobs prior to Separation

  • February 19, 2015
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Transitioning service members at three military installations are receiving training for jobs in the solar industry through a pilot program run by the Department of Energy (DOE). This pilot is enabled by DOD’s SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships and internships up to six months prior to their separation date. Service members who graduate from the solar training program will gain the skills to size and install solar panels, safely connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes …

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