Kiggans presses senior military enlisted leaders on quality of life issues

February 3, 2024
 |
Jen Kiggans George McMath

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, during a hearing of the House Armed Service Committee’s (HASC) Quality of Life Panel, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) pressed Senior Enlisted Leaders on quality-of-life issues in the military, including compensation, childcare, housing, spouse support programs, and access to healthcare. Those testifying were:

  • Troy E. Black, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Michael R. Weimer, Sergeant Major of the Army
  • James E. Honea, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
  • Carlos A. Ruiz, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
  • Joanne S. Bass, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
  • John F. Bentivegna, Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force

Specifically, Congresswoman Kiggans questioned the Senior Enlisted Leaders about the benefits and feasibility of expanding privatized housing to unaccompanied barracks, efforts to improve preventative mental healthcare, and the impacts of frequent moves on childcare.

 

Click here and here view the footage of the exchange between Congresswoman Kiggans and the Senior Enlisted Leaders.

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BACKGROUND

The HASC Quality of Life Panel continues to hear that servicemembers, particularly the enlisted force, and their families face challenges related to compensation, childcare, housing, spouse support programs, and access to healthcare. These quality-of-life issues are not only essential for the health, welfare, and morale of service members and their families, but also for the readiness of our military forces. Military service is demanding on servicemembers and their families. They are asked to make many sacrifices for continued service and providing a suitable quality of life is the minimum requirement and of particular concern for the panel.

Enlisted personnel make up about 82% of the Armed Forces. Junior enlisted personnel (pay grades E-1 to E-4) work in small units across the Department of Defense (DOD). Individuals normally serve in these grades during their first enlistment term (usually four years). Junior enlisted personnel make up about 51 percent of the enlisted workforce. Mid-level Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) (pay grades E-5 to E-7) have significantly more responsibility than junior enlisted personnel and make up about 45 percent of the enlisted workforce. They lead small units, ranging from a few to several dozen personnel. They also often serve as technical experts in their occupational specialties. Senior Noncommissioned Officers (pay grades E-8 and E-9) typically serve as senior enlisted advisors to commanders or as staff NCOs. They also serve as a channel of support for the enlisted force in general.

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