Commission Urges Retaining Commissaries, Improving Quality-of-Life Programs

The final report of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission devoted seven of its 15 recommendations to changes benefitting quality of life for service members and their families, including several that go beyond a strict definition of pay and benefits.

Two recommendations that had not been previously revealed would bolster service members’ transition to civilian life and better support military children. To better prepare personnel for civilian careers, the commission said:

  • DOD should require mandatory participation in the Transition GPS education track;
  • Congress should require One-Stop Career Center workers to attend Transition GPS classes to form personal connections with transitioning veterans; and
  • the Labor Department should permit state agencies to work directly with state VA offices to coordinate administration of the Jobs for Veterans State Grant program.

To measure the impact of parental deployments and frequent moves on children of active-duty service members, the commission recommended that military-dependent students should be explicitly identified in Elementary and Secondary Education Act reporting. “This identifier would enable consistent reporting on the academic performance of military dependents, as well as identification of the support required to meet their needs,” the report stated.

The commission called for maintaining the benefits offered by commissaries and exchanges, but said the two activities should be consolidated to leverage their similarities, while realizing significant efficiencies. “These two activities perform similar missions, for similar patrons, with similar staff, using similar processes,” the report states.

The most sweeping changes the committee proposed would affect retirement and health care benefits, including replacing the 20-year retirement benefit with other options to offer benefits to personnel who separate from the military before reaching the traditional retirement milestone.

The panel estimated its 15 recommendations could save nearly $5 billion next year and up to $10.4 billion per year by 2020, reported Stars and Stripes.

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