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Your 2003 Military Pay and Benefits
FY 2003 Defense Authorization Act, Page 4
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2003 Pay and Benefits
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Continued from Page 3

Wear of Abayas
(Section 563)

Anyone who follows military news at all knows of the "Abaya Flap." Since the end of the Gulf War, the military has required female military members to wear an abaya (a Muslim religious robe) anytime they travel off base in Saudi Arabia, even though Saudi law does not require the wear of the abaya for western women, and women assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Saudi are not required to wear it.

The "flap" made it all the way to Congress, and under pressure, the military changed its requirements from "required" to "highly encouraged." However, this was not good enough for Congress, and Congress has decided to act. The FY 2003 Defense Authorization Act states specifically that "...no commander or person of military authority may require or encourage another service member to wear the abaya garment or any part of the abaya garment while the member is in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

The act requires the military to brief all military personnel (both orally and in writing) about this provision within 48 hours of their arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Officer Retirement
(Section 505)

The FY 2003 Defense Appropriations Act gives the services temporary authority (until December 1, 2003) to allow commissioned officers in the grade of O-4 and above to retire at their current rank held, with only two years time-in-grade. The normal requirement is three years time-in-grade.

Non-Chargeable Emergency Leave
(Section 572)

Previously, when a member took emergency leave due to family or personal emergency, all leave taken was charged against their leave balance. If a member took more days than they had "saved up" (military members "earn" 2.5 days of leave for each month of service), then leave was charged against future leave time. Under a new provision of the Defense Authorization Act, a commander can now authorize up to 14 days of non-chargeable emergency leave, if the military member uses up all of his/her "saved" leave during the emergency leave period. This new provision can only be used once by a service member during their entire military career. This change will become effective when DOD (and the individual services) amend the current leave regulation(s).

National Call to Service Enlistment Program
(Section 510)

This is a new enlistment option that the services aren't too excited about. The FY 2003 Defense Authorization Act requires the Secretary of Defense to establish criteria and implement this new enlistment option. Here are the basics:

(1) The Secretary of Defense establishes the total military commitment time (this will probably be a total of 8 years, such as current enlistment criteria, with some portions required to serve on active duty, and some portions required in the reserves or other agencies).

(2) The member enlists in a designated military job (which will probably be a "shortage" job, that requires little training), and agrees to serve for 15 months on active duty, following basic training and technical (job) training.

(3) After Active Duty, specified above, the member must then serve an additional 24 months in the Active Guard or Reserves, or an additional time (to be specified in the enlistment contract) as an active duty member.

(4) After the additional time specified in (3) above, the service member must serve the remaining service obligation in one of the following:

a. Active Duty
b. Selected Reserves
c. Inactive Reserves
d. Other program such as Peace Corps or Americorps
e. Combination of any of the above

(5) Members who enlist under the National Call to Service Program will receive their choice of the following enlistment incentive:

a. Payment of a bonus in the amount of $5,000

b. Payment in an amount not to exceed $18,000 of outstanding principal and interest on qualifying student loans

c. Full GI Bill Monthly Benefits for up to 12 months of education

d. 1/2 Monthly GI Bill Benefits for up to 36 months of education

(6) Recruits will be required to stipulate in the enlistment contract which of the above incentives they will receive. Individuals who fail to perform the entire service obligated under the enlistment contract will be required to reimburse the government for any "unearned" portion of the incentive.

Korean Defense Service Medal
(Section 543)

The FY 2003 Defense Authorization Act requires the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to develop a Korean Defense Service Medal for military personnel who served in the Republic of Korea, *after* the official end of the Korean War. The eligibility period shall be from July 28, 1954 to such time in the future (after the bill is signed) that the Secretary of Defense shall designate as being appropriate for termination of the award period. The intent of this provision is to recognize that Korea is still a "hostile" area. An estimated 1,200 members of the United States Armed Forces have died as a direct result of their service in Korea since the cease-fire agreement in July 1953.

Payment for Military Funeral Honors Details
(Section 571)

This section of the FY 2003 Defense Authorization Act requires the Secretary of Defense to set a flat-rate daily stipend (the rate to be reviewed each year) to pay military retirees and others (who are not members of the military, or employees of the United States) who participate in military funeral honors.

On-Base Family Housing
(Sections 2102, 2202, 2302)

The FY 2003 Defense Authorization Act includes authority for the military services to construct or acquire additional military family housing units at certain bases:

Location Number of Units
Alaska Fort Wainwright 38
Arizona Yuma Proving Ground 33
Korea Yongsan 10
California Naval Air Station, Lemoore 178
California Twentynine Palms 76
Connecticut Naval Submarine Base, New London 100
Florida Naval Station, Mayport 1
Hawaii Marine Corps Base, Kaneohe Bay 65
Maine Naval Air Station, Brunswick 22
Mississippi Naval Air Station, Meridian 56
North Carolina Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune 317
Virginia Marine Corps Base, Quantico 290
United Kingdom Joint Maritime Facility, St. Mawgan 62
Air Force
Arizona Luke Air Force Base 140
California Travis Air Force Base 110
Colorado Peterson Air Force Base 2
Colorado United States Air Force Academy 71
Delaware Dover Air Force Base 112
Florida Eglin Air Force Base 134
Florida MacDill Air Force Base 96
Hawaii Hickam Air Force Base 96
Idaho Mountain Home Air Force Base 95
Maryland Andrews Air Force Base 105
Mississippi Keesler Air Force Base 117
Missouri Whiteman Air Force Base 97
Montana Malmstrom Air Force Base 18
New Mexico Holloman Air Force Base 101
North Carolina Seymour Johnson Air Force Base 126
North Dakota Grand Forks Air Force Base 150
North Dakota Minot Air Force Base 214
Oklahoma Vance Air Force Base 59
South Dakota Ellsworth Air Force Base 22
Texas Dyess Air Force Base 85
Randolph Air Force Base 112
Germany Ramstein Air Force Base 19
Korea Osan Air Base 113

The act also contains authorization to expend funds for the improvement of existing family housing units, as well as authority to construct/renovate existing dormitories (barracks) throughout the services.

Court-Martial of National Guard Members Not in FEDERAL Service
(Section 327)

In addition to any state laws governing court-martials of National Guard Members not on FEDERAL active duty, the FY 2003 Defense Authorization Act allows the court-martial of National Guard members, even if they are not on FEDERAL active duty.

In addition to any applicable state laws, the following individuals may convene court-martials for National Guard members not in Federal Service:

General Court-Martial - May be convened by the President of the United States.

Special Court-Martial - May be convened by the commanding officer of a garrison, fort, post, camp, air base, auxiliary air base, or other place where members of the National Guard are on duty; or by the commanding officer of a division, brigade, regiment, wing, group, detached battalion, separate squadron, or other detached command.

Summary Court-Martial - May be convened by the commanding officer of a garrison, fort, post, camp, air base, auxiliary air base, or other place where members of the National Guard are on duty; or by the commanding officer of a division, brigade, regiment, wing, group, detached battalion, detached squadron, detached company, or other detachment.

Other Changes Applicable to Veterans

In addition to the FY 2003 Military Authorization Act, Congress approved the Veterans Benefit Act of 2002, which makes many important changes for military veterans.

Soldier and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) Coverage for National Guard

Probably most significant is a provision that extends Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act protections to members of the National Guard under some circumstances. Under previous law, the SSCRA only applied to National Guard members if they were called to FEDERAL service. The protections did not apply to Guard members performing duty under authority of the State Governor. After 9/11, President Bush asked the state governors to activate members of the National Guard to perform "homeland security" duties, such as guarding airports and other facilities that were considered terrorist targets. Because these members were called by the STATE, and not the federal government, SSCRA protections did not apply. The new provision extends SSCRA protection to National Guard members, anytime they are performing "homeland security" duties, even if under control of the State government.

VA Disability Compensation for Women Who Lose One or Both Breasts

Title I of the act requires the payment of veterans' disability compensation to a woman veteran for the anatomical loss of half or more of the tissue of one or more breasts suffered as a result of a service-connected disability. Under previous law, disability compensation was only allowed if the entire breast was removed.

VA Disability for Hearing Loss

Under previous law, if a veteran had a service-connected hearing loss in one ear, and a non-service-connected hearing loss in the other ear, the veteran's disability compensation was computed using only the hearing loss for the service-connected deafness. Under the new change (section 102), total hearing loss will be used to determine the degree of disability compensation.

Section 103 of the act requires the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to develop a list of military jobs, which, by the nature of the job, is likely to expose the service member to high levels of acoustic trauma. The VA must assume that veterans who have served in those military specialties, who experience a hearing loss, even years after military service, to have a service-connected disability.

Medal of Honor Pension

Section 104 of the Veterans Benefit Act of 2002 increases from $600 to $1,000 the monthly special pension for individuals entered on the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard Medal of Honor Roll. This change also authorizes a lump-sum payment retroactive to when the act of valor actually took place. The lump-sum payment is the amount of monthly pension that would have been received between the time the act took place and the medal was actually awarded.

Prohibitions on "Selling" VA Compensation

Section 105 of the act prohibits any agreement entered into by a beneficiary under which another person acquires for consideration the right to receive any compensation, pension, or dependency and indemnity compensation of such beneficiary. The provision also provides criminal penalties for violations. The section directs the Secretary to conduct an outreach program to inform veterans and other potential recipients of such compensation or pension of the prohibition against the assignment of such benefits, including information on various schemes to evade the prohibition and means of avoiding such schemes.

No Flag or Grave for Those Convicted of a Capital Crime

Section 402 prohibits veterans convicted of or found to have committed a Federal or State capital crime from being furnished a presidential memorial certificate, a flag to drape a casket, or a headstone or marker for a grave.

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