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A Military Family Bill Of Rights

John Kerry for President

John Kerry and John Edwards believe that military families must be treated with the respect they deserve. As president, John Kerry will propose a Military Family Bill of Rights that will provide our military families with competitive pay, good housing, decent health care, quality education for their children, first rate training, and the best possible weaponry, armor, and state-of-the-art equipment. And in the event the worst happens, military families will have help and care they deserve.

Responsible Leadership and Stewardship of the American Military

  • Increase The Size Of The Military. The American military was designed to fight with coalition partners. Today we lack those partners and our Army is stretched to the breaking point. John Kerry will increase the size of the active-duty Army by 40,000 troops so that we have the force structure for the challenges we face.

  • Reinvigorate American Diplomacy To Better Meet The Needs Of America's Security. Our military has a right to expect that when they go into conflict on a mission of international security they will have maximum support from troops of other nations affected. But today, our troops make up almost 90 percent of the military forces dealing with the insurgency operation in Iraq, and have suffered up to 90 percent of the fatalities

Competitive Pay

  • Assure Sufficient Imminent Danger Pay And Family Separation Allowances. Military families, especially those of a service member deployed to a combat zone, are entitled to our full support and full respect. John Kerry will never attempt to reduce special compensations, such as family separation allowance and hazardous duty pay.

Quality Housing

  • Raise Standards For All Family Housing Units. Military families should be guaranteed housing that meets their needs and meets American standards. Unfortunately, military housing has been grossly inadequate for several decades. As president, John Kerry will accelerate the construction of new military housing by providing incentives for private developers to build new housing on or near military bases and lease it to military families at a rate consistent with their housing allowances.

Quality Health and Dental Care

  • Ensure Service Members And Families Receive Adequate Health Care. Military families should have full access to quality health and dental care, whether they're stationed at home or abroad. As president, John Kerry will fight to permanently extend TRICARE eligibility to members of the National Guard and Reserve.

Quality Education

  • Defend Impact Aid. Military children, along with their parents, sacrifice many educational and other opportunities by frequently moving to new schools in new areas. Children of service members deserve the best educational opportunities America can offer, whether they're at home or abroad. As president, John Kerry will ensure they get the quality education they deserve by protecting funding for the Impact Aid program, which funds our nation's Department of Defense schools.

First-Rate Training, Arms and Equipment

  • Reimburse Families Forced To Purchase Body Armor. No military family should ever have to bake cakes or wash cars in order to buy their deployed soldier adequate personal equipment like body armor - yet troops have been deployed to Iraq without the latest body armor. As president, John Kerry will reimburse families that were forced to provide for themselves and ensure that such lapses do not occur again.

  • First-Rate Training And Equipment. Our service members and families deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing that everything possible has been done to ensure that their loved one returns from a combat zone quickly and safely. As president, John Kerry will ensure that families have that peace of mind. He will ensure that no soldier, sailor, airman or Marine ever goes into harm's way untrained when the best training is available. And he will ensure that no soldier is ever poorly or incompletely equipped when the best equipment is available.

Up-To-Date and Accurate Information About Deployments

  • Ensure Families Know When Their Loved Ones Are Leaving and Coming Home. By their very nature, emergency deployments are unpredictable. But routine rotations to sustain on-going operations are reasonably predictable. Our families deserve the best, most current information about the timing and duration of deployments. As president, John Kerry will make every effort to ensure they know that and much more.

Help For Family Members Affected By Extended Deployment

  • Penalty-Free Withdrawals from IRA Expenses Associated With Deployments. Our service members and families deserve more consideration and assistance when on operational deployments. As president, John Kerry will ensure they get that consideration and assistance, including penalty-free withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts for expenses associated with deployments.

  • Make Family Separation Allowance Permanent. The Bush administration tried to cut the family separation allowance. As president, John Kerry will make it permanent and index it to inflation.

Assistance When A Service Member Has Been Killed

  • Increase The Death Gratuity. When a service member is injured or killed in the line of duty, military families deserve full, complete, and timely notification. No other moment in life will ever carry such pain, and the nation owes surviving families its highest respect and best efforts. As president, John Kerry will work to have a $250,000 gratuity added to the Service Members Group Life Insurance if a service member is killed in a combat zone.

  • One Year of Military Housing for Families of Deceased Service Members. Our service members and families deserve full assistance that matches their sacrifice. As president, John Kerry will extend from 180 days to one year the amount of time that a family of a service member killed in action can live in military housing so that children can finish the school year and families can plan for the future.

Responsive Government Support After Leaving The Military

  • Keeping Faith With Those Who Served. After military service ends, a new commitment from the nation begins to assist and recognize those who have served, and who often bear the wounds of battle. All agencies of government that can help our veterans must help our veterans with service that is complete and compassionate. As president, John Kerry will fight for quality access to health care for all military retirees, provide for full concurrent receipt; and mandatory funding of veterans health care.

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