Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) today secured provisions in H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, that provide important resources to the Fort Campbell community and our nation's military.
These legislative victories include restoring funding for the "Army and Air Force flying hours program," to keep training and flight hours at their historically appropriate levels for military aviators, and a provision requiring a Secretary of Defense evaluation of the Troops to Teachers program in order to find ways to improve its effectiveness.
"As a result of sequestration and the raiding of military readiness accounts, the military has suffered a series of devastating cuts that compromise their safety, readiness and ability to meet the ever present threats to our national security. It is immoral to ask our military servicemen and women to suit up and ship out without the proper resources, training and funds they need," Blackburn said.
"That is why I have worked so hard to make sure proper funding for the Army and Air Force flying hours program has been included in this year's NDAA. It only takes a few weeks for our nation's pilots and crewmembers to lose currency, putting their lives and our nation's security at risk. We need to make sure resources are available to keep their training up to date.
"I have also made sure an evaluation of the Troops to Teachers program is included in the bill. We need to ensure that this program is working for the best possible benefit of our nation's service-members. Especially as our servicemen and women return from overseas and consider continuing their service to our nation by teaching our next great generation in our classrooms."
Army and Air Force Flying Hours Program
As a result of budget cuts and the raiding of military readiness accounts to cover underfunded war costs, the military has proposed a massive reduction in the Army and Air Force flying hours program, which provides essential flight training for aviators. In order to prevent this from occurring, Congressman Blackburn worked with the House Armed Services Committee to secure the historically appropriate level of funding for the Army and Air Force flying hours program in the FY14 NDAA; ensuring that Army aviators receive the training they need to maintain currency. This funding will affect almost 500 aviators and ensure that 37,000 flying hours will not be lost.
Troops to Teachers
Congressman Blackburn has also worked to increase the effectiveness of the Troops to Teachers program. Her contribution to the FY14 NDAA will require the Secretary of Defense to conduct an evaluation on ways to strengthen the program in addition to issuing a report regarding whether the program and its eligibility should be broadened. The Blackburn amendment also requires that the Secretary of Defense investigate how the program works with academic institutions in order to increase benefits to soldiers and reduce bureaucratic costs.