Alaska’s “Arctic Tough” Military Receiving 2012 Support

Pay Raise, Health Care Improvements, Millions in Construction Funds, Senator’s Amendment in 2012 Defense Budget Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski today voted for the 2012 Defense Authorization bill, featuring a pay raise for military members, hundreds of millions to fund Alaska’s critical military operations, improved mental health care, a move to ‘Alaskanize’ the housing allowance formula – along with several amendments sponsored or co-sponsored by Senator Murkowski for the Alaskan military community.

“As I said at the Spartan Brigade deployment ceremony on Tuesday, our troops are Arctic tough and a cut above,” said Murkowski.  “These men and women are sacrificing so much for our country.  We can begin to repay them with a thank you, but the bottom line is that compensation and improved quality of life also go a long way.”

Senator Murkowski serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Defense and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittees.  In today’s bill, many Alaskan imperatives have been addressed through the authorization process, including:

Pay Raises:  Military members will see a 1.6 percent pay increase in fiscal year 2012.

Alaska Base Allowance for Housing Improvements: The Defense Department must improve the process used to determine local Basic Allowance for Housing.  (A GAO report validated that the current process doesn’t work in Alaska.)

Improved Access to Mental Health Care: A larger amount of credentialed DoD mental health providers will be made available to military members, veterans and retirees in rural states like Alaska.

Military Construction: Alaska’s military construction work will receive nearly $400 million, including $15 million in funding for Joint Training Ranges like the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, as requested by Senator Murkowski.

An amendment put forth by Senator Murkowski was also adopted into the bill:

4 C-23 Cargo Aircraft Eligible for Transfer to Alaska: The U.S. Army has announced it will retire 42 C-23 Sherpa cargo aircraft by December 31, 2014 – 4 of which are flown by the Alaska Army National Guard. The Senate approved Senator Murkowski's amendment which would give the governors of the states to which these aircraft are currently assigned the 'right of first refusal' to take title to these aircraft free of charge as they are retired.

Additional amendments by Senator Begich that Senator Murkowski co-sponsored were adopted:

JBER/Anchorage Land Exchange: The Anchorage Municipal Landfill will receive added acreage from JBER that it needs for expansion

“Space A” Travel: Space-available travel is authorized on military aircraft for members of the reserve components, “Gray Area” retirees, survivors and their dependents.