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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced new Department of Defense measures aimed at enhancing the financial security of U.S. service members, including a raise in the housing allowance troops receive.
“Today I’ve directed the department to take several steps to strengthen the economic security of our force. First, we’re providing some immediate relief,” Austin said during a press briefing Wednesday.
“The Department of Defense has temporarily raised the basic allowance for housing in areas that have had a 10% increase in rental costs this year, and in places with housing shortages, we’re extending temporary lodging expense reimbursement so that families have more time to find a home that fits their needs.”
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. (Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP)
The decision to temporarily raise the housing allowance troops receive comes as military families have struggled through “tight housing markets across the country” amid the pandemic, Austin said.
Austin also said that the department would be taking steps to enhance food security across the force, saying it was vital that “our people have enough to eat.”
“We’ve created a new tool kit that will help leaders identify service members who are struggling and connect service members and their families to resources and support programs,” he said. “I’ve also directed the undersecretary Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop a strategy and implementation roadmap within 90 days to strengthen food security across the force.”
U.S. Army soldiers prepare to go out on patrol from a remote combat outpost on May 25, 2021 in northeastern Syria. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Austin said that troops and their families should not have to worry about their economic security while working to defend the country, hinting that additional measures could come in the future.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. (VANO SHLAMOV/AFP via Getty Images)
“Now, the steps outlined in today’s memo won’t solve all the economic worries that our military families face. But they are important steps, and we’re committed to getting this right,” Austin said. “Our men and women in uniform and their families have enough to worry about basic necessities like food and housing shouldn’t be among them.”
“This is a readiness issue, and that’s why I’m focused on making sure that our service members and their families have what they need to thrive so that they can focus on the hard work of defending our nation,” he added.