Opening Statement (As Prepared)

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I am looking forward to hearing from each of you, as the Senior Enlisted Leaders of your respective organizations on what is on the minds of service members.

We ask a lot of our service members. We ask them to risk their lives to protect our country and in turn, we must make sure that we have their backs and support them and their families. We don’t always live up to that and need to do better.

As several of you alluded to in your testimony, you may recruit the Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman or Guardian, but to retain them, you must retain their families. So, ensuring they have adequate access to quality health care, safe housing, affordable childcare and the right pay and benefits package is critical to sustaining the health of the force.

Military compensation is a combination of various pays and allowances, some of which are taxed and others not. While Congress was able to deliver an across the board pay increase of 5.2% to all service members in the last NDAA, I believe it may be time we consider reevaluating whether there are additional ways to help deliver important support to our service members and their families. Like many of you, I’m looking forward to the findings from the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation and I’m optimistic we will be able to address some of these issues in our Panel’s recommendations.

Perhaps as we celebrate the 50th year of the All-Volunteer Force, we should be asking ourselves if the benefits offered are the most effective to recruit and retain a new generation, one that has different perspectives and priorities about the kind of work and career they seek.

We must address the multitude of quality of life issues that impact our service members and their families. As I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks – health care, housing, childcare, and pay and benefits – are are a critical component of a ready and healthy force and I am confident we can find common ground in a bipartisan way to do what’s right for our most important military assets – our people.

I yield the balance of my time.