September 30, 2020
The women and men of the U.S. military, and their families, sacrifice a great deal for our country every day. I grew up in a military town, and my father served in the Air Force Reserve. I’ve seen firsthand the unique challenges that military families face.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’ve had the honor of meeting with many military families and working directly to support them.
Here in Augusta, Fort Gordon has experienced incredible growth as the new headquarters for Army Cyber Command and other Department of Defense components. It is bringing new military personnel and their families to the Augusta community every day.
To handle this exciting growth, it is critical that Fort Gordon has modern infrastructure. That’s why I’ve helped support important construction of the new Advanced Individual Training Barracks to give service members a safe and modern place to live.
Providing access to safe housing is one of the most important things we can do to support service members and their families across our state and country.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been the case. Two years ago, reports surfaced that some military bases in Georgia and across the country were plagued with substandard living conditions, including mold, pests and lead paint. This was totally unacceptable.
We immediately went to work to hold military leaders accountable and solve this problem. In the fiscal year 2020 defense bill that was signed into law, I included numerous provisions to help improve military housing going forward and put forward additional proposals being considered for this year’s bill.
Another issue affecting many military families is financial difficulty. According to a 2018 survey by Blue Star Families, military families were twice as likely as civilian families to report struggling financially.
For the past two years in a row, we’ve secured a pay raise for service members of more than 3%. Last year’s pay raise of 3.1% was the largest in 10 years. However, we need to ensure military spouses are supported as well. According to that same Blue Star Families survey, one of the leading causes of financial difficulty is that military spouses struggle to find and keep good jobs.
In communities like Augusta, businesses are stepping up every day to provide opportunities for military spouses. I have strongly advocated for policy changes that help smooth the transition into these new jobs.
As we continue helping military spouses find quality jobs, we also have to make sure there are enough child care resources for their kids.
No military family should have to worry whether their children are getting the care they need, and I’m proud that the United States Senate recently passed its defense authorization bill that included increased funding for Department of Defense Child Development Centers.
Early on when starting in the Senate, I established a network of top military advisers to keep me informed about developing issues and offer guidance on how to solve problems like these for Georgians. I also make it a priority to regularly visit Georgia’s military installations and hear directly from service members about what we can do to better support them.
Together, we’ve made a lot of progress, but we are not done yet. No matter what, I am committed to ensuring that our women and men in uniform, and their families, always get the support they so deeply deserve.
Fostering Fort Gordon growth supports Georgia’s military families
By: Senator David Perdue
September 30, 2020