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    How Military Families Put Their Stamp on the Pentagon

    How Military Families Put Their Stamp on the Pentagon

    Jennifer Barnhill is a columnist for .com writing about military families.

    Few people take the time to read through the 1,772-page bill called the National Defense Authorization Act (), the Department of Defense's annual policy legislation.

    It's a “must-pass” bill that outlines spending priorities for the for the following fiscal year. The NDAA often affirms pay raises — the 2023 raise was 4.6%, military family programming requirements, Tricare health care policy adjustments impacting both active duty and veterans, and more. It's one of the pieces of legislation destined to directly impact millions of American lives, specifically in the service member, veteran and military families communities.

    Much of the coverage of the bill focuses on grassroots advocacy performed by military spouses, veterans and nonprofits or slick well-paid industrial complex lobbyists hoping to score lucrative government contracts for their clients. We read the summary, learn what compromises have been struck, and move on to the next year's budget requests and priorities. What is less understood is how the sausage actually gets made.

    As it turns out, it is military spouses and veterans, and the organizations that represent them, who deserve the credit for the at-times incremental improvements to military family quality-of-life programs contained in the pages of this bill. While on the surface that sounds like representative democracy…

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