U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, applauded the passage of H.R. 1960, the "Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act" (FY2014 NDAA) which included a 1.8 percent pay increase for members of our armed forces and four provisions authored by LoBiondo.
LoBiondo's first provision is based on legislation (H.R. 1721) he introduced in April instituting a two year moratorium on flight demonstration teams from the Department of Defense (DoD) from performing at airshows outside the United States. Dubbed the "AT HOME Act", the bill was included into the FY 2014 NDAA during the full committee markup.
"Annual visitors to this month's Atlantic City Air Show look forward to seeing the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, Golden Knights and other aviation demonstration teams perform. Their appearances translate into millions of tourism dollars and a positive impact for South Jersey. While grounded for the 2013 season, when these teams once again take off my colleagues and I agree that their focus should be on air shows here at home, which are both a sense of great pride and a tremendous economic boost," said LoBiondo.
LoBiondo's second provision was co-authored with Representative Mike Thompson (CA-05) to require the Department of Defense to purchase American Flags from domestic sources only. Currently the Stars and Stripes are not on the list of items that DoD may not procure unless the item is grown, processed, reused or produced in the United States. This provision amends the statute and adds the American Flag to that list.
"It is unbelievable and unacceptable that our men and women who wear the uniform in defense of our nation have fought under a flag that could be manufactured outside of the United States," said LoBiondo. "I appreciate Representative Thompson for his joint leadership in correcting this injustice and ensuring the honor of military service is reinforced by the pride of an American-made U.S. flag."
LoBiondo's third provision requires the Secretaries of Defense and Transportation as well as the Administrators of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to jointly submit a report on unmanned aircraft system collaboration, demonstration, use cases and data sharing to the appropriate Congressional committees within 90 days. An additional report to Congress is required detailing the milestones for unmanned aircraft systems integration as mandated by the "FAA Modernization and Reform Act" which President Obama signed into law in February 2012. The William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township is charged with the testing and validation of safely integrating commercial unmanned aircraft systems into the National Air Space. LoBiondo worked with Representative Mike Turner (OH-10), chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, on this provision.
Finally, LoBiondo and Representative Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) secured a provision related to studying and utilizing the Therapeutic Service Dog Training Program within DoD as an effective treatment to some symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Currently, recovering service members in this treatment at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are reporting improvement in their symptoms. In addition, clinical observations support the benefits of this animal-assisted therapy modality to psychologically injured service members, including: decreased depressive symptoms, improved sleep patterns, a greater sense of purpose, better reintegration into their communities, pain reduction, and improved parenting skills.
The provision, as adopted by the House Armed Services Committee, urges the Secretary of Defense to consider making this promising new therapeutic intervention more available to service members suffering from the invisible wounds of PTSD and TBI and directs a study to evaluate the efficacy of service dog training as an adjunctive treatment.
Approved by the full House of Representatives in a 315 to 108 vote, the "Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act" is now sent to the Senate.