Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, placed a number of key provisions in the FY11 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). These provisions include protecting TRICARE from cost increases, assessing the vulnerabilities in the defense supply chain, studying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), examining the feasibility of burn pit registry, studying pre-deployment counseling for single service members with dependent children, honoring military spouses, reviewing genitourinary trauma in the military, holding reckless defense contractors accountable, and expanding the small arms industrial base. The NDAA was approved late last night by the House Armed Services Committee.
Protecting TRICARE From Cost Increases
Shea-Porter's amendments will ensure that TRICARE health care co-payments and prescription drug costs do not increase in 2011.
Assessing the Vulnerabilities in the Defense Supply Chain
Shea-Porter's amendment will establish an Executive Agent within the Department of Defense to prevent the introduction of counterfeit microelectronics into the defense supply chain. A number of recent reports focus on the dangers posed by attacks on the supply chain. With our national security increasingly dependent on computer-reliant technology, Shea-Porter's language will help ensure that the products and services we buy and use are not vulnerable to sudden, catastrophic failure or to cyber attacks.
Studying Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Shea-Porter's language will require an assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) incidence by military occupation. This study will identify military occupations where service members report a high incidence of PTSD, so preventive measures can be more accurately targeted to those most susceptible. Many service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported suffering from PTSD. The Army alone has reported 39,331 individual cases of PTSD from January 1, 2005, to March 8, 2010.
Examining the Feasibility of a Burn Pit Registry
Shea-Porter's language directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a report on the feasibility of establishing an active registry for service members and veterans who have been exposed to occupational and environmental chemical hazards. The report will discuss the processes by which service members exposed to toxic chemicals could be included in the registry and also procedures to provide medical examinations to service members eligible for inclusion in the registry. A significant number of the roughly two million service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to these toxic burn pits, and hundreds of returning veterans are now displaying health symptoms. This language was based on HR 4477, the Military Personnel Toxic Exposure Registry Act, introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop and Shea-Porter on Jan. 20, 2010, which has been endorsed by Disabled American Veterans, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Military Officers Association of America, and the National Guard Association of the United States.
Studying Pre-Deployment Counseling for Single Service Members with Dependent Children
Shea-Porter's language directs the Secretary of Defense to study the feasibility of establishing a pre-deployment counseling and services advisory panel. The language also requires a review of pre-deployment counseling and services provided to single service members and their dependent children, to identify best practices and make recommendations for improvement. There are 72,968 single active-duty service members with dependent children in today's military, of whom 18,237 are currently deployed, and the needs of these families must also be met to preserve readiness and retention.
Honoring Military Spouses
Shea-Porter's language authorizes the design of an official military spouse pin. Lapel pins would be available to all spouses of service members or veterans who have served in a combat zone for more than 30 days. The pin will enable spouses of National Guard and Reserve service members, who do not live on or near bases, to find each other more easily. Earlier this month, Congresswoman Shea-Porter introduced the Military Spouse Pin Act (H.R.5233), which was endorsed by the National Military Family Association. This bill's language was incorporated into Section 572 of the FY11 NDAA.
Reviewing Genito-urinary Trauma in the Military
Shea-Porter's language requires a review of the current state of medical training and research for genitor-urinary trauma within the DoD to determine if better care can be provided in combat zones. Genitourinary trauma currently accounts for up to 10% of all war related injuries, and too many service members and veterans are currently living with these painful injuries.
Holding Reckless Defense Contractors Accountable
Shea-Porter's language requires the Secretary of Defense to reduce or deny award fees to contractors who jeopardize the health and safety of government personnel. This language will improve our ability to hold defense contractors accountable for reckless or grossly negligent behavior that endangers the safety and lives of US troops and personnel. She was prompted to act after learning that defense contractors accused of producing defective work that placed the lives of US soldiers at risk were still being awarded multi-million dollar contracts.
Expanding the Small Arms Industrial Base
Shea-Porter's language redefines the small arms industrial production base by striking the definition that previously limited the small arms base to only three companies, and by requiring the Secretary of Defense to award contracts for small arms parts procurement through a competitive process. Full and open competition for future small arms parts procurement will strengthen US manufacturing capacity and increased competition will help reduce taxpayer expenditures.