In a few short words, not very much. Compared to the past several years, Congress is not offering much in the way of military pay and benefit improvements for 2010.
Each year, Congress must pass two pieces of legislation in order to fund the military for the following year. The first is the Defense Appropriations Act. This bill allocates money to the Department of Defense. The second is the annual Defense Authorization Act. This bill tells the military how it can spend the money.
Congress passed the 2010 Defense Authorization Act, HR 2647, on October 22, 2009. The President signed the bill into law (Public Law 111-84) on October 28.
Here are the major provisions of interest to military personnel for 2010:
Pay and Benefits
- Basic Pay
- Housing Allowance
- Food Allowance
- Food Stamp Allowance
- Catastrophic Injury Pay
- Afghanistan Extension Pay
- Stop-Loss Pay
- Memorial Travel
- Tricare for Reserve Members
- Tricare Coverage for Retired Reservists
- Freeze of Tricare Fee
- Family/Friend Travel
- Prorated Special Pays and Combat Pay
- Increase in Weight Allowance
- Leave Carryover
- Chiropractic Services
- Future Camouflaged Uniforms
- Mental/Medical Evaluation of Reserve Personnel
- Gang Members
- School of Nursing
- Internship for Military Spouses
- Active Duty Size
- Reserve Forces Size
What Didn't Make It
There were several proposals, included in either the House or Senate versions of the 2010 Defense Authorization Act that didn't make it into the final bill:
Early Reserve Retirement Pay. In 2008, Congress included a provision that allows reservists who spend a significant amount of time mobilized to receive retirement pay before reaching the age of 60. The 2008 Defense Authorization Act allows a reservist to begin receiving retirement pay 90 days earlier for each 90 days spent mobilized after January 27, 2008. Under a Senate provision, this would have been made retroactive to September 11, 2001.
Second Automobile Shipment. Under current law, military members who are assigned to certain overseas assignments can ship one vehicle at government expense. Under the House version of the bill, military members who have at least one family member who can drive, and receive an accompanied assignment to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. territories and possessions, would have been able to ship two privately owned vehicles.
Concurrent receipt. A House provision would have allowed members who retired from the military with less than 20 years (mostly those who retired for medical reasons) to retain their full military retirement pay and receive VA disability compensation at the same time. Concurrent receipt is already allowed for those who retire with 20 or more years of military service. Congress members stated that they supported the provision, but couldn't find a way to pay for it.