Ossoff touts successes in extending care for service members and national security improvement
Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff has successfully led bipartisan efforts to improve national security and the quality of life for Georgia service members, military families, and veterans.
The success comes from his work with the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act, which Ossoff helped pass last week in Congress.
“Georgians are united in our commitment to a strong national defense and in our gratitude to military service members, military families, and veterans,” Ossoff said in a statement.
As stated in a July 27 press release, the NDAA “includes over a dozen of his bills and priorities to upgrade barracks; improve service members’ and military families’ access to mental health care; increase oversight of privatized housing; help junior-enlisted service members and their families afford housing; expand access to mammograms for female veterans; and authorize key infrastructure and quality of life projects at installations across Georgia.”
The legislation also guarantees a 5.2% pay increase for service members.
Bipartisan bills included in the NDAA:
Military Facilities Upgrades Act
Ossoff and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced the Military Facilities Upgrades Act in June 2023. The legislation ensures service members have the infrastructure needed to do their jobs by making it easier to replace beat-up and older facilities throughout Georgia and nationwide.
Junior Enlisted Housing Affordability Act
Ossoff and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced the Junior Enlisted Housing Affordability Act to Congress in June to "help young military families in Georgia and nationwide afford housing in their communities," per a June 23 press statement. The legislation improves how the Department of Defense totals junior enlisted service members with dependents' housing allowances, ensuring the DOD calculates housing costs accurately.
Military Mental Health Professionals Support Act
The Military Mental Health Professionals Support Act, introduced by Ossoff and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), expands mental health services to Georgia service members.
Per a May 31 press release, currently, "mental and behavioral health specialists count toward caps on military personnel by rank, impacting recruitment and retention of mental health care providers." This legislation removes the caps, thus allowing more specialist to provide their help to service members.
Servicemember Mental Health Support Act
Introduced by Ossoff and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), the Servicemember Mental Health Support Act strengthens mental health oversight in the military.
It requires that the Department of Defense submit a report to Congress containing "recommendations for improving service members' access to mental health care specialists, such as group counselors or psychiatrists, with hopes of increasing enrollment in these services and ensuring service members receive the timely support they need and deserve," according to a July 21 press statement.
The legislation changes the current process that allows active duty servicemembers to get mental health treatment without referrals. However, it prohibits them from access to private care without a referral from an on-post doctor.
Military Spouse Career Support Act of 2023
Ossoff and Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) introduced legislation supporting military spouses' careers in June. According to a June 12 press release, currently, the Department of Defense "only offers reimbursements for military spouses' relicensing, recertification, and business costs when active-duty military families relocate between assignments; not when families relocate between active and reserve assignments."
The Military Spouse Career Support Act of 2023 grants reimbursements from the Department of Defense for military families' business expenses when moving between active and reserve assignments.
Investing in VETS Act
Ossoff introduced the Investing in VETS Act in July to support small businesses run by service-disabled veterans. The legislation helps service-disabled business owners expand their business to new markets by allowing them to compete for federal government contacts.
Per a July 11 press release, the Investing in VETS Act requires "the Federal government and its 24 agencies to award at least five percent of its total contracts to service-disabled Veteran-owned Small Businesses per fiscal year."
Fort Gordon Child Development Center Expansion Act
Introduced by Ossoff and fellow Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, the Fort Gordon Child Development Center Expansion Act ensures that Fort Gordon military families in Augusta have access to early childhood education. The legislation delivers $21 million to Fort Gordon for a new child development center.
The new center offers "more space and modernizing classrooms to ensure high-quality early childhood education for Augusta's military families," per a May 25 statement.
Fort Gillem Defense Forensics Enhancement Act of 2023
Also introduced by Ossoff and Warnock is the Fort Gillem Defense Forensics Enhancement Act of 2023 that would upgrade Fort Gillem's forensic abilities and improve U.S. national security and counterterrorism efforts. The legislation builds a permanent facility for Fort Gillem's forensic investigations unit in Forest Park.
As stated in a May 25 press release, the "Forensic Exploitation Directorate (FXD) provides global forensic capability in support of the full range of military operations and counterterrorism efforts. The Directorate deploys teams around the world to provide commanders with a forensic analysis capability."
Robins Air Force Base Battle Management Enhancement Act
Ossoff introduced the Robins Air Force Base Battle Management Enhancement Act to construct a new Battle Management Combined Operations Complex at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, improving the Air Force's national defense plan.
Per a July 19 statement, the Battle Management Combined Operations Center "will house three new missions for the Air Force, including E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node squadron operations; Battle Management Control Squadron operations; and a Group Headquarters for a Spectrum Warfare Group."
Fort Gordon Cyber Center Enhancement Act
The Fort Gordon Cyber Center Enhancement Act, introduced by Ossoff in July, allows for new construction and upgrades to Fort Gordon’s Cyber Center of Excellence, helping address cybersecurity threats. The construction will build new classrooms for the army installation’s Cyber Center of Excellence providing training to U.S. Army cyber, electronic warfare, and signal professionals.
Expanding access to mammograms
In February, Ossoff and Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) launched a push for veterans looking for mammogram services after hearing of their challenges in detecting early signs of breast cancer.
The senators, with several others, requested that the Department of Veterans Affairs distribute more resources "towards expanding access to mobile mammography units, improving advanced mammography equipment, and enhancing outreach services to better publicize mammography services," per a Feb. 8 statement.
Ossoff co-sponsored the Comforting Our Military Families through On Base or Remote Treatment Act with Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to help military families access non-medical counseling services. According to a press release, the COMFORT Act does so by "authorizing non-medical military family and life counselors to practice at any military installation regardless of their state of licensure."