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Gillibrand hails passage of NDAA, saying it brings improved benefits to military families and base environments

Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, wearing a navy blue dress with white neckline. sits at her desk.
File Photo
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is welcoming passage of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, an annual bill which funds the Department of Defense. It also includes increased or expanded benefits to military families and even some provisions for environmental cleanup.

The Act, which provides nearly $770 billion to the Department of Defense, includes a 2.7% pay raise for service members and DOD employees.

Gillibrand, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, says the Act also delivers provisions she wanted to see included within the bill. They include up to 12 weeks of parental leave for service personnel, and what she believes is improved access to quality child care options.

“I was glad to see that the NDAA will allow the DOD to seek out creative solutions, like public-private partnerships, that can meet the real life needs of military families,” she said. “The NDAA also includes provisions that I fought for, to expand the in-home child care pilot program, and to inspect all DOD Child Development Centers for hazards like lead, asbestos, mold, so that families can have more safer options for a child care that they need.”

The senator, speaking Wednesday, announced that the health care provisions also include added preconception and prenatal carrier screening coverage for those who participate in the military’s TRICARE health care program, allowing them to test for diseases including cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Fragile X Syndrome and other conditions. The bill also maintains coverage for autism therapy, including applied behavioral analysis.

The Act also addresses cleanup and remediation of many military facilities known for high contamination by pre- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, chemicals which break down very slowly and are believed by researchers to pose health complications including stalled childhood development, compromised immunity and higher cancer risks.

“I'm proud that the NDAA includes provisions modeled after my bill the Filthy 50 Act, which requires the DOD to do three things,” Gillibrand said. “First, to complete testing for PFAS at all DOD and National Guard facilities across the country within two years. Second, to send a status update to Congress on the remediation efforts of the 50 priority locations in my bill, and third, to send Congress a detailed schedule for plans for remediation at all DOD and National Guard facilities.”

The bill, which now awaits President Biden’s signature, also sets aside $27 million to Fort Drum to improve its water infrastructure.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.