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MCPON Testifies on Quality of Life Issues to House Subcommittee

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050217-03
Release Date: 2/17/2005 11:05:00 AM

By Chief Journalist Michael Foutch, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Appearing before the House Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Feb. 16, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/AW) Terry Scott emphasized the connection between the global war on terrorism and efforts to provide the resources to support that fight.

"Even with the advanced technology at our disposal and Congress' support in providing the resources to take the fight to our enemies, America's competitive edge in ensuring a safer world remains our people," the MCPON told the panel. "The quality of the Sailors we successfully recruit has never been higher."

If, Scott added, families are adequately provided for while Sailors are deployed, "we can feel confident that those Sailors will have the proper motivation and attention on their work to be able to do their very best.

"In my travels this past year," he added, "I have enjoyed the visits I have had with the Sailors who defend America every day and the families who faithfully support them. In these visits, I have taken special note of the conditions in which they serve and live."

The Navy's senior enlisted Sailor testified as to the necessity of funding military construction housing projects and support of Public-Private Ventures to seek and develop comfortable, affordable and safe housing at a significant reduction in cost to taxpayers.

At the same time, Scott told the subcommittee of the goal to reduce the number of single Sailors obliged to live aboard their ship through Homeport Ashore, a program designed to relieve the cramped accommodations aboard ship to meet the 1+1 barracks standards set by DoD for permanent party personnel by 2016.

"Our Sailors cite job satisfaction, ongoing professional growth, personal recognition and high quality training and education as reasons to continue their service," Scott said. "But we must continue our efforts to keep up to date the package of benefits of military service we offer."

One example is the Thrift Savings Plan, a benefit in which nearly 30 percent of the Navy is participating, including 45,000 E-3-and-below members.

"This demonstrates our youngest and most vulnerable folks are taking a direct interest in their financial future," Scott added.

At the same time, Scott testified to an industry "that has made it a practice to prey upon our Sailors." Payday loan outlets, he said, often are found within a short walk outside the gates in the communities that surround Navy homeports, offering easy loans but with very high interest rates as compared to commercial lenders. He told the subcommittee that many who turn to these payday loan outlets end up far worse off than before.

"It is not being dramatic to state these payday loans to our troops could be a threat to their military readiness," he said.

Another quality of life issue crucial to the development of the Navy of the future, Scott asserted, is education. Although he saluted the efforts of Congress to increase the education benefits available through the GI Bill, he brought to the subcommittee's attention 18,511 Sailors who remain from the Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP) era "who will have no educational benefits at all when they leave the Navy."

The Navy's efforts in Professional Military Education, the Navy's senior enlisted advisor told the panel, will expand opportunities for advanced education, fulfilling the need for career-long educational opportunities relevant to the Navy's mission, and professional and personal growth and development of the total force.

"Even as we provide our Sailors the resources to ensure we have a well-educated and -trained Navy," he said, "we also need to provide them a quality work and living environment."

The Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation program, including efforts in child care, Scott testified, remains heavily focused on supporting single Sailors, deployed units and their family members in support of the global war on terrorism.

Scott submitted to the panel a statement asserting the Navy continues to find ways to improve its organizational practices, to find savings to reinvest in platforms and systems using Sea Power 21's Sea Enterprise initiative. This effort to reduce overhead, the MCPON said, will enable the sea service to continue to fight to keep programs that support Sailors yet stay within budget realities.

"We owe the Sailors who deploy in the global war on terrorism nothing else than our best efforts in return to give them the guidance and the equipment to keep them in the best position possible to succeed," he told the subcommittee.

"The honor, courage and commitment of our Sailors, the professionalism and dedication of the all-volunteer force, and the support of the loving families they leave behind serve as the foundation and make possible the unprecedented forward defense capability of the most powerful, capable Navy in the history of the world," Scott said. "I am honored to speak on behalf of our Sailors standing watch around the globe."

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