How "Well" is Army Well-Being?
At the heart of Army Transformation are soldiers (active Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, retirees, veterans) and Department of the Army civilians. These high-quality individuals and their families are the bedrock of readiness. Central to soldier, civilian and family readiness is well-being--the human dimension of Army Transformation.
Well-being is not a "bumper sticker." Well-being is the framework under which there is clear linkage between distinct quality-of-life programs and Army institutional outcomes such as readiness, retention and recruiting. Well-being is not a synonym for quality of life but rather an expansion of the concept. It represents coordinated efforts to integrate policies, programs and issues into a holistic and systematic framework that supports mission preparedness as well as individual aspirations.
Recent legislation signed into law by the President has made significant strides in funding such programs as compensation, health care, retirement and survivor benefits, housing, education, family programs and the working environment. Much has been done, but more remains, especially the integration of the individual programs into a comprehensive, holistic approach.
Army well-being is "well," but it can and must get even better. The Army must institutionalize the concept and processes of Army well-being, both within the Department of the Army and at the community/installation level, to create irreversible momentum and avoid unintended consequences. The inextricable link between well-being and readiness must be made evident to leaders, soldiers and every other member of the Army team.
Congress and the Department of Defense must stay the course. The tremendous gains over the past several years in the various individual programs will be for naught if any remaining year or years of a program go unfunded. Congress and DoD must avoid carrying one population’s benefits on the backs of another--retirees versus active duty, active component versus reserve component or DoD versus DoEd--or competing one individual program against another. This is counterproductive; it impacts other mission areas and disadvantages all groups, especially soldiers who have to go in harm’s way without the necessary equipment, or a family whom the soldier feels is not adequately supported. Congress and DoD must determine the validity of each requirement and resource it accordingly.
Specifically, Congress and DoD must:
- for soldiers and DoD civilians, eliminate the pay gaps for their groups as compared to the private sector by 2006 and maintain comparability for the future; provide officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers monetary compensation commensurate with their leadership expertise, experience and responsibility; and continue to advocate for the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program. (For details, see pages 7, 8, 20--23.)
- for soldiers and their families, modernize barracks and family housing, both in the continental United States and abroad, by 2007; review housing standards for all ranks; for those soldiers and families who reside off the installation, eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for housing entirely by 2005; fully fund sustainment, restoration and modernization (SRM) and base operations requirements; and pass legislation to protect families living in privatized military housing on federal property. (For details, see pages 17--20, 25--26, 28--29.)
- for retirees, enact and fund legislation to repeal in its entirety the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offset on retired military entitlement (concurrent receipt), and protect the retiree from having to choose between the military and VA health care system. (For details, see pages 14--17, 20--23.)
- for retirees and veterans, publicize the 1998 VA health care benefit for U.S. combat veterans (both active and reserve components) since Operation Desert Storm. (For details, see page 15.)
- for the reserve component, enact legislation to give Guardsmen and Reservists, while on active duty, and their families, compensation and health care equal to that of the active component; to extend the benefits and protections of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) to members of the National Guard serving under Title 32; to provide tax relief for reserve component soldiers and tax credits for their employers); and to study how reservists can realize retirement pay benefits immediately upon retirement from the reserve component as opposed to at age 60. Reserve component medical and dental readiness shortfalls (to include physicals and Internet annual screenings at VA) must be fixed immediately, as well as RC military construction requirements. (For details, see pages 14--17, 20--23, 25--26.)
- for family members, encourage state legislatures to support in-state tuition for military family members at institutions of higher learning and to provide unemployment benefits based on a military relocation for the servicemember’s spouse; expand the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) approach to address school transition issues; retain Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) in the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA); fully fund Impact Aid in the Department of Education (DoEd) budget; and fund additional measures to meet child care needs of servicemembers unable to access military Child Development Centers. (For details, see pages 23--25, 26--27, 28--29.)
- for all soldiers, retirees and family members, protect the gains in benefits under the TRICARE and TRICARE for Life systems and study the feasibility of eliminating TRICARE copayments for retirees under the age of 65. (For details, see pages 14--17.)
AUSA is fully committed to each member of the Army Team--soldiers (active Army,
Army National Guard, Army Reserve, retirees, veterans), Department of the Army
civilians and their families. You can be proud of the fact that, as a member of AUSA,
you carried the torch and contributed to the effort that has yielded so many positive
results. Join us as we continue our effort to ensure the well-being of the Army and
each member of the Army Team.
How "Well" is Army Well-Being?
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