Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Showing posts for "Veterans Affairs"

Digging into the Compensation Commission’s Proposals: Great for Troops AND the Pentagon Bottom Line

by Jesse Sloman
Alphonso Maldon, Jr., chairman of the Department of Defense Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, asks for service members' ideas for improvement aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 25, 2014. (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System) Alphonso Maldon, Jr., chairman of the Department of Defense Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, asks for service members' ideas for improvement aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 25, 2014. (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)

Last week, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) released its long-awaited final report, outlining fifteen recommendations for updating military pay and benefits. The Pentagon, Congress, military advocacy organizations, and think tanks are all studying the proposed reforms to determine who stands to gain, who stands to lose, and what their positions will be.

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Charts, Charts, Charts: Everything You Need to Understand the Military Compensation Debate

by Janine Davidson and Jesse Sloman
Snapshot of a graph depicting the growth of per-soldier costs over time.  The cost of an active duty U.S. service member nearly doubled between 1998 and 2014. (Emerson Brooking/Defense in Depth, Council on Foreign Relations) Snapshot of a graph depicting the growth of per-soldier costs over time. The cost of an active duty U.S. service member nearly doubled between 1998 and 2014. (Emerson Brooking/Defense in Depth, Council on Foreign Relations)

This week marks the much-awaited release of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission’s (MCRMC) final report. This independent panel was established in 2013 “to conduct a review of the military compensation and retirement systems and to make recommendations to modernize such systems.” Proponents and opponents of future changes are preparing themselves for a bitter legislative and bureaucratic fight as soon as the report hits the street.

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Celebrating Veterans in an Unlikely Place

by Janine Davidson
United States Marine Corps Sergeant Richard Douglas (L) stops to talk with former U.S. Marine and Korean War veteran Fernando Orbegoso (R) during the Veterans Day parade on 5th Avenue in New York (Mike Segar/Courtesy: Reuters). United States Marine Corps Sergeant Richard Douglas (L) stops to talk with former U.S. Marine and Korean War veteran Fernando Orbegoso (R) during the Veterans Day parade on 5th Avenue in New York (Mike Segar/Courtesy: Reuters).

This weekend I was invited back to my alma mater, the University of Colorado at Boulder, to speak at their 2-week community event honoring veterans. The event, Veterans Speak, was dedicated to increasing awareness and bridging the gap between those who have served and the rest of society.  Sponsored collaboratively by Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts, the University, and the Veterans Memorial Museum in Broomfield, it was the first of its kind in Boulder.

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In Compensation Reform, Pentagon Failing To Win Hearts and Minds of Its Own Troops

by Jesse Sloman
Members of the Army march up 5th Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade in New York November 11, 2012. (Carlo Allegri/Courtesy Reuters) Members of the Army march up 5th Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade in New York November 11, 2012. (Carlo Allegri/Courtesy Reuters)

The Pentagon is losing the battle to convince military families that it has their best interests at heart when it comes to compensation reform. A survey released last week by the advocacy group Blue Star Families and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) revealed that clear majorities of military spouses, veterans, and service members are seriously concerned about pay, benefits, and changes to retirement. If Defense Department (DoD) leaders hope to achieve their goal of updating the current compensation system, they will have to assuage the doubts of at least some members of these critical constituencies. Right now, it looks like senior officials may be in for a hard-fought campaign.

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New VA Reform Bill Is a Stopgap, Not a Solution

by Jesse Sloman
Captain Benjamin Jackson carries Specialist Brian Sanchez while running with Staff Sergeant Anthony Lewis (L) and Private First Class Armando Martinez during the physical fitness portion of a 24 hour Cavalry "Spur Ride" exercise for members of the US Army's 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment in Fort Drum, New York September 29, 2010. (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters) Captain Benjamin Jackson carries Specialist Brian Sanchez while running with Staff Sergeant Anthony Lewis (L) and Private First Class Armando Martinez during the physical fitness portion of a 24 hour Cavalry "Spur Ride" exercise for members of the US Army's 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment in Fort Drum, New York September 29, 2010. (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters)

This commentary comes courtesy of Marine Corps veteran and CFR research associate Jesse Sloman.  He argues that while the recently unveiled $15 billion dollar Millers-Sanders VA healthcare bill is a step in the right direction, it fails to address deep and systemic problems within the veteran care system. A lasting solution must also confront looming demographic challenges that threaten to upend the whole institution. This, in turn, will require both creativity and political bravery.

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