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Public Statements

Hearing of the Military Construction Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Copyright 2004 Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE MILITARY CONSTRUCTION SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: FISCAL YEAR 2005 HEARING ON QUALITY OF LIFE - SPOUSES

CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE JOE KNOLLENBERG (R-MI)

LOCATION: B-300 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

WITNESSES:

SUSAN SINCLAIR, WIFE OF ARMY SERVICE MEMBER;

JOSEPH S. DAUGHTRY, HUSBAND OF NAVY SERVICE MEMBER;

ANGIE BARRETT, WIFE OF MARINE CORPS SERVICE MEMBER;

TERESA A. CLARK, WIFE OF AIR FORCE SERVICE MEMBER

BODY:
REP. JOE KNOLLENBERG (R-MI): The subcommittee will come to order. We appreciate your being on time, and we have with us today as well, the chairman of the appropriations full appropriations committee, Mr. Bill Young. Let me welcome everybody and the hearing this afternoon is kind of a continuation of the one we had this morning on the quality of life in the military.

I know that your husband, Susan, is in the room now-he was. I had seen you here this morning. I can't speak for the rest of you, but if you were here, fine. I appreciate you're being here now, this afternoon.

We had an opportunity this morning to hear from and dialogue with the highest ranking non-commissioned officers from each service component in regard to the quality of life in the military. This afternoon, we have the opportunity now to hear from the spouses, where the real power lies, right. It is in my home, I know that.

These hearings are as important-or an important part of the process this subcommittee goes through each year. In order for the subcommittee to make effective decisions with our precious resources we must understand the nature, the morale and the spirit of the military service members and their families. As I mentioned at the senior NCO hearing this morning, I believe that the real power of our nation's fighting force cannot be simply attributed to tanks, to guns, to planes, to ships. It also must be attributed to the very men and women in uniform who operate these weapons and supporting systems.

Equally as important to the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who comprise our military are the family members who strengthen and reassure them. The unwavering support of military families can't be overlooked or underestimated. They may not wear a uniform, but military family members serve our country as partners and supporters to the men and women in uniform. The support of military families is critical, especially in these times, with the level of stress-and we heard something about that this morning-is so high in our military-is so high.

Recent military surveys showed the spouse is the leading factor when a married soldier, sailor, Marine Corps, airman considers staying in or separating from the military. That's why it's important for us to hear from the spouses of our service members too. My predecessor, Mr. Hobson, began these hearings and I'm very honored to continue them.

The goal of this hearing is to give this subcommittee a way to learn more about what we can do to improve the quality of life of our military families, not only to enhance their experiences but to enhance troop readiness. A military service member cannot be at his or her best if they're worried about the family situation at home base. The subcommittee can, through what we learn in hearings like this one and the one we had this morning, contribute to the readiness of our troops by helping to mitigate such concerns.

We're not able to accomplish this over night, but thanks to past hearings and your testimony today I believe we're making some positive impacts on the military family. Lastly, our military forces are transforming to meet the threat and demands of the 21st century. Our military leadership should also take into account the military spouse and family as a part of this transformation. So I look forward to hearing what you have to share with us today.

-BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT-

MR. KNOLLENBERG: I think, Mr. Farr, we've got over the edge on the five, but we'll be back --

(Cross talk.)

I'm going to turn to Mr. Kingston now.

REP. JACK KINGSTON (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me ask you guys a question, it has to do with voting. Several years ago there were some issues that had to do with active military, particularly deployed, being unable to get absentee ballots.

Are you aware of that? Is that-do you want to speak for the Army --

MS. SINCLAIR: Well, I know during the last election we were in Korea so we tried to get absentee ballots, my husband got his without a problem but I had a problem getting mine, because with all of our moves I didn't have my voter registration number so I sent it in with a note saying, I don't have my number but can you get it and because of that I was denied access to vote.

REP. KINGSTON: Have you found this to be an ongoing issue of complaint? Was that a one shot problem or --

MS. SINCLAIR: Well, I've heard that from other people as well. I know that our JAG or a legal office on post really sets up tables at commissary PX to encourage people to vote and to have the forms there to request the ballot. But, you know, it's not real easy to just call and say what's my number? So I mean that's a problem.

MS. CLARK: I've never had that problem.

MS. BARRETT: Never had a problem with that, no. We were stationed in a remote place many years ago and we were still able to get what we needed.

REP. KINGSTON: Ms. Sinclair, if you had any suggestions on that, I'd certainly like to hear from you on it. Let me ask you another question. We have had some complaints here and there about Reservists who have-in the case of Metro State University, Colorado, wore his uniform to class and he'd actually already been in Iraq and the teacher told him it was disrespectful to wear a uniform to class on a college campus. Do you hear any complaints like that, is that, again, a fluke deal? Or is that-we know for example some college campuses still don't seem to let ROTC recruits on their facilities, even though they're very quick to ask for federal grant money. Do you hear any complaints about that?

MS. SINCLAIR: I've not actually heard about that complaint, but I did have my daughters-we don't live in a military community, although our community has a lot of military in it, it's not as widespread as if we lived on post. And they had trouble with the deployment with some anti-war things going on and they had this big thing in the paper about we don't belong in Iraq kind of thing, and it was very difficult for them to deal with, so I had to go over personally to the school and deal with that issue on my own and kind of make things right, which they did. They were very welcoming but, you know, it was the student body not being --

REP. KINGSTON: Anything else on college campus? Also a question I had, Ms. Sinclair, you said in your statement that reenlistment is at a all time high? I read that in somebody's statement, I believe it was yours? Excuse me, it was this morning that we heard that, and you say, who said that? Let me see, who was it that testified that? All four branches?

(Cross talk.)

All four branches. So I would like to know particularly on the Reserve component if that's the case. I was in Iraq in December, you know, active soldiers do not complain as much, at least to members of the Congress, but Reservists, it's a field day. You know, they know us, they are closer to us, they work at the neighborhood department store or whatever and they see and they let you have it with both barrels. I am surprised to hear the statistic that reenlistment is high amongst reservists and I was wondering if any of you could speak to that?

MS. SINCLAIR: My husband actually has some Army Reserves that are filling in for their shortage of security policemen out at Langley and they-some of them actually volunteered to stay an extra year. They had been on post since September 11th when his unit had to deploy. I can't give you the actual amounts but I can tell you some of them volunteered. As far as the enlisted active duty goes, my husband-when they came out with the new step-up program for deploying he lost five of his NCOs-senior NCOs which is a large number.

REP. KINGSTON: Anybody else?

MS. BARRETT: My personal experiences would be that-we have many friends who are Reserves and they've all been very happy to stick around and go back if they need to.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: I think, Mr. Kingston, you're out of time right now. But to add to-I believe the comment that was made this morning among the four services is that they are concerned if deployment is expanded to a greater number of years, that might have some impact on retention. I think that's what I gathered from that, so that may help a little bit.

Also, the mere fact is there's a great many more married families, I know it breaks down differently with the services and almost twice as many as there were in '70s. And very likely you've got a marriage, they've married the Army or the Navy or the Marine Corps, whatever it is, in greater numbers than they used to. I don't know if that helps a little bit, but I do remember that coming up, but I think it was in regard to the retention relative to extended deployments.

Mr. Bishop?

REP. SANFORD D. BISHOP JR. (D-GA): Thank you very much.

Let me thank you ladies, so very much for-and Mr. Daughtry, for taking the time to come and talk with us because certainly you probably are where the rubber needs to roll when it comes to the family aspect of our military service and so I want to thank you for what you do and the support that you give to our military men and women.

Ms. Barrett, did I understand you correctly to say that retention from your experience, was low?

MS. BARRETT: No. In regards to Reserves I was commenting on personal experiences with, you know, friends that we have who have been happy to stay.

REP. BISHOP: What about active duty?

MS. BARRETT: As well. I know Marines are pretty dedicated to the job and --

REP. BISHOP: Let me ask you with regard to the Department of Defense education, DOD education, there's a move underfoot to eliminate that or drastically reduce it and I have from the experience I've had with the family members who have their children in the Department of Defense schools and of course the people who are employed there, the teachers and principals, they're expressing a great deal of misgivings about that policy. What is your take on that? All of you, I'm sure, have some direct knowledge about it and I'd be happy to hear from you on that.

MS. SINCLAIR: Sir, I know for the Army families it's extremely important. Everywhere we've lived that has come up as an issue and families very much want to keep the Department of Defense schools on post.

REP. BISHOP: Would that have an effect on recruitment and retention do you expect?

MS. SINCLAIR: I don't know, I can't say that.

REP. BISHOP: If service members were of the opinion that their children would have to go to school off post in situations that are not the most desirable, they would be less likely to stay in, to have that-in other words, allow their families to be subjected to that?

MS. SINCLAIR: I can say that one of the big drives for Fort Campbell was the fact that they do have a high school on post. And at some of the other-like at Fort Rucker, we're in a different situation because there's three towns connected to Fort Rucker and everybody has a choice of which high school to send their kids to, which is also a plus. But in some communities or posts where you don't have that choice, people choose to live off post in the area of the school district they want because they don't like being told that that's the high school they have to go to.

REP. BISHOP: Thank you very much, I-someone else is to-or the others?

MS. CLARK: I personally, the only experience I have with a DOD school is that I actually graduated from one overseas.

My daughters have never attended a DOD school, we've never been to a base that actually had a school on base. And that is one of the issues that I discussed with the-the fact that it's very difficult for members, if you have children in high school to have standards that are equal across the United States and DOD schools would certainly solve that problem.

REP. BISHOP: There were a couple of questions I asked of the gentlemen this morning, and I'd like to ask the spouses for your perspective on one. The war in Iraq has had tremendous impact on the lives of people who've served in theater and the families of those who've served. There's been a rise in the number of social and psychological issues that have arisen since the war began and of course in previous wars too. In your experience, do we have adequate social services, related resources dedicated to meeting the growing problems that we are seeing stateside, spousal abuse, suicide, divorce, substance abuse and the other strains on the family, given the deployments and the war that we are now involved in. Are the social services adequate?

MS. CLARK: If I may, no actually. In fact, that came up in a discussion. I met with the enlisted wives at the base that we were stationed and it's a growing concern that TRICARE does not afford for a family to attend counseling unless there has been an event. Meaning, unless there's been spousal abuse, an affair, if you will, or some type of tragic event has occurred, there is no counseling provided to a husband and wife or to families for that matter, unless there's been something occur. So you have to reach that point before you can actually fix your marriage, which at that --

REP. BISHOP: Do commanding officers try to assume that role, and-do you know?

MS. CLARK: I'm sorry?

REP. BISHOP: Do commanding officers --

MS. CLARK: First sergeants sometimes, other spouses, that kind of thing. It's not likely that the member will go to another member of their unit because of the-obviously the repercussions that will come about, you know, if you're having marital problems, that's not something you want your commander to know. So quite frequently --

REP. BISHOP: It comes to them anyway.

MS. CLARK: It comes up because you reach the point of either abuse, or some type of other tragic event.

MS. SINCLAIR: Sir, I think that's one thing that the Army's One Source program will help with because one of the key things with that is you can get counseling up to six sessions for one issue. So, it's something you don't have to go through the military TRICARE system to get. You just call this number, you speak with a licensed psychologist and social worker with masters degrees and you can get set up in counseling without going through post.

And another thing that Army's doing is these units come back, they're not giving them immediate leave. They're taking, you know, seven to 10 days of working half day schedules to integrate back into the family because, you know, it's hard for the wife to give up total control when her husband comes home, although he wants to resume his role. So they're thinking that this working half days will help with some that.

REP. BISHOP: I would like to add one point about the One Source. It's a multi-lingual program which is very, very important, I believe it came up earlier in the session, multi-lingual 24/7.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: We're going to turn now to Mr. Aderholt.

REP. ROBERT B. ADERHOLT (R-AL): Thank you.

It's good to have you all here today, I think this is especially helpful for this committee to hear from each of you and I know this takes place every year as part of the military construction hearings, so thank you each of you for being here and taking time out of your schedule to share a few thoughts with us. I came in late, I was at another meeting but I know-I've got to know what Susan Sinclair-good to have an Alabamian on the panel, good to hear your-I was looking over your comments that you had made in your opening statements. And you noted that one of the biggest challenges was getting medical information, about injured soldiers to their family members. Could you talk a little bit about that? Do you have an examples of what you have --

MS. SINCLAIR: I do. You know, it's basically during the actual fighting that soldiers were sent to different locations. So when they were med-evac'ed out of the field, the commander lost contact with them and the system was really set up so he didn't have to follow him through his medical care. But when they would get taken to whatever facility they went to, we didn't know where they went. And our hospital commander-like, for instance we had one wife who was a Reserve wife who was from Czechoslovakia or some place like that, but she had a language problem also being English as her second language.

But a doctor called her and told her that her husband had a brain injury and that he would be back in touch with her. Well, it was seven days before we could find where this soldier was. She was thinking we were withholding information from her. She immediately called her family readiness leader, who's a volunteer, who called the hospital commander at Fort Campbell and said, can you help?

I mean he was calling old friends, he was cutting through a lot of red tape trying to find this soldier. And while I can understand-it turns out this soldier was on a Navy ship, and while I can understand they were very busy, and the doctor probably didn't think about calling the family again, it's heart wrenching. And, you know, there are other examples like that but the communications, I think, between the services is a kind of problem during peace time and during a war it really multiplies.

REP. ADERHOLT: Well, take for example with the brain injury, I mean, I would-any time there's a brain injury, that's not anything that's simple --

MS. SINCLAIR: Right.

REP. ADERHOLT: -- so I'm sure that her worst thoughts were running through her head. What-as far as advice how that may be corrected, what's your thoughts on that as far as --

MS. SINCLAIR: Well, I think some kind of database or inter- service communication system set up so that it's a little easier to find a patient.

REP. ADERHOLT: Sure.

MS. SINCLAIR: And during normal circumstances, like even ours that went to (Landstuhl ?) which is an Army hospital, the commander every day got to get on the database to get the information, but they were so busy that wasn't updated every day. So he would call the spouse and say, "Oh I see where your soldier's going to be at Walter Reed in three days." So she would immediately making plans for babysitters and transportation and that to get up there, and then an hour later her husband would call her and say, "I'm at Walter Reed, why aren't you here?" And so it was the fact that they were so busy, I think. But I think that somebody to keep those databases updated is very important for the family back home who just wants to know something.

REP. ADERHOLT: Right. And especially in the information age that we live in, that should just be. That's all I have.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Thank you.

Now we're ready for Mr. Edwards again.

REP. EDWARDS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, do you have any questions?

REP. KNOLLENBERG: I do, but I'm going to yield to you.

REP. EDWARDS: I'd be happy to yield back to you at this point. You've been very gracious throughout all of this.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: In that case, I accept from you. Thank you.

I will be relatively brief, but I want to go into the healthcare thing. I know, Mrs. Clark, you had some difficulty.

And I know there are times when there is difficulty, and with respect to-and you've been overseas as well in your deployment process, so you've seen the medical service available and outside of CONUS, outside of the U.S. How does it-and I don't know where you were, maybe you should tell us, but how did that compare overseas with here? And particularly when it comes to specialty care, that's got to suffer, I know, overseas, I would think.

MS. CLARK: Yes. We were stationed over in England for a four- year period, it might be closer to five years. And my husband was at RAF Greenham Common, when my children were very young and I actually had to undergo specialized treatment. It was very difficult, it took approximately two years to complete a course of treatment, it wasn't anything alarming that couldn't have waited the two years, that wasn't a problem. But I had to travel to Lakenheath, RAF Lakenheath. The base that we were at didn't have a hospital, they didn't even have a clinic.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: How many miles was that?

MS. CLARK: It's approximately a three hour drive.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: So transportation you supplied?

MS. CLARK: Yes.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Is that typical?

MS. CLARK: Yes.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: There is no bus?

MS. CLARK: No, definitely not. The care I received was, you know, perfectly fine. I did well, I also underwent two or three surgeries while we were stationed there, but was able to have that surgery at RAF Upper Heyford which was an hour and a half away from where we were stationed. And the care was fine but the length of time that it took to receive the care was probably the largest problem that I had.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Getting an appointment?

MS. CLARK: Getting an appointment.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Access to --

MS. CLARK: Right, follow up. I had another surgery while we were at Cannon (ph), and that unfortunately turned out to be nearly fatal on my behalf, because I had to go to an outside facility. My records were lost and no one could figure out what surgery I had except for what I was telling them, and why they didn't believe me, I don't know. However, my doctor had gone overseas right after-immediately after providing my surgery and I had an infection --

REP. KNOLLENBERG: But your records weren't there?

MS. CLARK: No, my records were at the outside facility and I attended the emergency facility to get the care that I needed for the emergency.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Let me turn to Mrs. Sinclair. You mentioned Landstuhl (ph) which I know services-a lot of specialty care, I believe, on top of some other things and were you speaking from experience as to --

MS. SINCLAIR: From Ford Camden, (ph) yes.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Okay. So you-what is your picture of the quality of service?

MS. SINCLAIR: Well, besides the war, I think there's the family getting their care at different places. My background is actually I'm an RN, so I look at things probably differently but in the places we've lived I think the care has been very good and I think that the access to care has been very good. Like at Fort Rucker, we can call for an appointment and get in that day.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Now, Mrs. Clark can't do that, right?

MS. SINCLAIR: That's right. So it depends on where you are. But like at Fort Rucker, we've been downsized to a clinic, we don't do any surgeries there, there's no inpatient care there. So we go off post for almost everything.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: And, do either of you want to make any comment?

MS. BARRETT: I would like to say that from personal experiences with the healthcare, we've-I've had a really good experience, my children have. But however, a few years ago I broke my foot and I went back home to be with family while my husband was deployed on a routine six month deployment for help with my children and it was quite a process for me to transfer from one region to another and to find a facility that could care for what I needed.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Have you been stationed overseas yourselves?

MS. BARRETT: We were stationed in Adak, Alaska, it's not considered overseas but --

(Cross talk.)

MS. BARRETT: And the care there, you know, we were young at the time when we lived there and I didn't really have an experience there with the insurance --

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Thank you. I think you stated it very well.

That's my questions for the moment, and now we'll yield right back to Mr. Edwards. Thank you for your time, sir.

REP. EDWARDS: Let me ask you something and I'll let you speak for other people at your installation, not yourself, because I don't want to put you on the hook. But the people on this committee, along with the full committee chairman, Mr. Young, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I think are deeply committed to these quality of life issues. One of the reasons we're on this subcommittee is-you know, $10 billion or so a year we spend as a rounding error in the $4 billion Defense budget, but we think this money is incredibly important because of these quality of life issues. And through the public/private housing effort we've been able to leverage those dollars.

But I want to ask you what do you think, don't have to speak for yourself, what do you think other military families would say if they knew the reality? Which is that this year, compared to two years ago before the Iraqi war started, Congress has cut $1 billion out of the military construction budget? So that while we are telling you how much we love you and support you and admire what you've done, we've actually cut by $1 billion compared to two years ago before the war ever started, the amount of money we are investing in all the military construction programs, which includes housing, healthcare clinics.

They're cutting-we'll have 40,000 soldiers, by the way, from Fort Hood deployed at some point this year to Iraq, and yet the budget request that came over from the White House budget office, cut out a $13.5 million health care clinic upgrade at Fort Hood to help women. It's a women's clinic program improvement, and I'm just furious about that particular project. But put that project aside, what do you think folks you work with, and families and spouses whose loved ones have been away half the time or two thirds of the time over the last two years would say, if they knew the U.S. Congress has cut by $1 billion military construction compared to what we were funding before the Iraqi war started?

MS. SINCLAIR: Sir, I think people would see that as a huge -- (inaudible). And, you know, most of the people I know have not stayed in the military for the money, it's the pride in what they do. We already feel like we settle for less than what we should and we're paid less than what we should be paid and to have further cuts would just be like a slap in the face to us. And I think right now we all spend a lot of money out of our pockets to float Army programs to make them a little bit better, you know, to help pay for childcare or to help pay for lunch so the spouses will come. And you know, I just think that these programs need the funding.

REP. EDWARDS: And just so you know that this year's budget, what the president's budget has requested it's like 1.4 percent above last year in terms of what we actually appropriated.

Compared to what was requested this year, the request is what we actually spent last year in 2003, it's a $1 billion less. It's gone from $10 billion down -- $10.4 billion down to $9.4 billion. Have any others, do you have any comments about what others might say at your respective installations if they knew Congress was doing that?

MR. DAUGHTRY: It would not be well received. I totally agree with you. In fact I feel a little stronger about it, if I may state it. It's almost as damaging as taking away the flak jacket that the kid needs because what occurs is back at his home base is there's significant stress and there's significant sacrifice.

REP. EDWARDS: Right.

MR. DAUGHTRY: That will flow back to the warrior deployed, knowing that my family is not being cared for.

REP. EDWARDS: Did either of you know we cut by $1 billion military construction last year?

MR. DAUGHTRY: No.

REP. EDWARDS: Okay.

MS. BARRETT: No, I have to say he hit the nail on the head.

REP. EDWARDS: The people would be upset?

(Cross talk.)

REP. EDWARDS: -- don't know that Congress has done that, in your opinion unanimously there would be strong visceral reaction against it if they knew that?

MS. BARRETT: Absolutely.

MS. CLARK: Everything forces --

REP. EDWARDS: Even though we're-and I will say this to the credit of this committee, given the dollars we're given, we think that a very effective job through the public/private venture can improve housing and you've commented on that. The bottom line is we've reduced by $1 billion our commitment to you. And that's not-don't just put that on Congress. It's Congress and the administration, we're all in this together. They've asked for significantly less and we've appropriated less than we did last year. And this committee doesn't make that choice, we don't decide how much we spend on military construction, the chairman is given a set amount and then he does the best job he can, along with the committee members, to see we spend every dime efficiently, which I think we're doing very well.

MS. CLARK: There were many rumors that went around during the war that our military members didn't have enough of their chemical weapons protection suits and that's exactly it. What else is there to cut? It's going to be their body armor, their flak vests and that's the big concern for the spouses and the families that are at home is, you know, where are they? And I can tell you that my husband didn't eat there-you know, and that wasn't a big concern, my concern was, you know, did they have their equipment ?

REP. EDWARDS: Well I appreciate your sentiment, because this helps us, we've got-Chairman Knollenberg and this committee has to compete with other priorities so I'm hoping this word will get out before the decision is locked in on how much we're going to get this year, because this committee fights usually very hard to try to plus up those dollars.

MR. DAUGHTRY: I think you've heard from us as a collective group just how much we need and how much you have helped us. We don't have insight to the budget line to know that you have been cut, that needs to be publicized.

REP. EDWARDS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: The main thing is we don't want the quality of life to suffer. Even if we get less we want to push every way we can, oversight, as much as we can to find some money, perhaps, that could be diverted not from some place where it's doing something, but someplace where it's not doing anything. So in any event I appreciate that.

I believe we have Mr. Kingston again.

REP. KINGSTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Before you begin, can I just raise one point? We have votes coming, they say between 3:00 and 3:15. The decision, we can make it right now is, do you want to consider coming back and if you do, keep in mind that these panelists may have to go, and I'm not clear on what your commitment is in the next 45 minutes, but I'm raising it right now so that if there is a need and you could stay, we can deal with that.

Mr. Farr, you or Mr. Bishop, any thought about that?

(Cross talk.)

REP. KNOLLENBERG: Well we'll do the best we can then, I just want to make sure that you, the panelists, are in a position to stay? Is that all right?

Mr. Kingston?

REP. KINGSTON: Why don't you cut me off at three minutes? Now that you've eaten all my time?

REP. KNOLLENBERG: I'll do your entire --

REP. KINGSTON: Ms. Sinclair, I had the honor of representing the 3rd Infantry Division who were all deployed last year, prior to that the 24th Infantry Division which, you know, was very involved in Desert Storm. At that time many of the families moved home, the young wives particularly went back home, this year about 90, 95 percent stayed in town. It's a great statement to the Army and the Family Readiness Group but there's also this Army family team building concept, which we understood this morning does not get a lot of participation, not as much as it should. Can you comment on that? And what we could do to help this?

MS. SINCLAIR: I think that's true, Army family team building has wonderful information but you have to get the people there and the Army has started with their young enlisted soldiers to get promotion points if they attend the class and their spouses tend to go with them if they go because we provide childcare for them. At Fort Rucker to try to get people to go to Army family team building, we started the spouse survival school which we just do like a tip of the iceberg, and we repeat several times throughout the day. You can get much more information from Army family team building. But, you know, it's so important just to educate and empower these young families to be able to take care of themselves.

REP. KINGSTON: Okay. Then also, Mr. Daughtry, Master Chief Scott from the Navy said that school vouchers were-could be a good tool for retention for Navy families. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. DAUGHTRY: I think any time you start taking care of the child in that regard the better. Give them a the better opportunity, that's always a very positive note to both the service member and the spouse to consider staying in, because it's the family you keep, not the sailor.

REP. KINGSTON: Mr. Chairman, let me yield to Mr. Farr and whoever else?

REP. KNOLLENBERG: We have time. He's yielding to you. We may have some extra moments I think, based on a recent-so if you want to go on for a minute or two you have --

REP. KINGSTON: That's okay.

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