What’s in the Defense Bill for Military and Families? 

RETIREMENT, PAY RAISE, GUNS ON BASE, PHARMACY CO-PAYS, RX,  CHILD CARE, MILITARY FLIGHTS, HOUSING, URGENT CARE

WASHINGTON (AP)

Buried in the 1,915-page defense policy bill are significant changes that could affect more than 1 million members of the military and their families.

The House has passed the $612 billion bill. The Senate is scheduled to vote this week.

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the legislation as part of a larger budget debate.

Some highlights of the defense measure pertaining to members of the armed forces and their families:

RETIREMENT

It would put in place, in 2018, a new retirement system for service members. Under the current one, 83 percent of service members leave the force without any retirement benefit because they did not serve at least 20 years. According to the new plan, service members can put a percentage of their pay into 401(k)-type accounts and the government will match those contributions up to 5 percent over 26 years.

The current force will be grandfathered into the existing system. Starting in 2018, those with fewer than 12 years of service can opt into the new system. Those with 12 years or more cannot because they probably would end up receiving a smaller retirement benefit than under the current system.

To offset the cost of the government matching payments into the Thrift Savings Plans, the regular retirement pay is being reduced for those enrolled in the new plan. When service members currently get ready to retire, their benefit is calculated by multiplying the average of their last three years of pay by 2.5. That multiplier would be reduced to two. Those who invest in their plan could make up that difference.

Those in the reserves now have to wait until they are 60 for their retirement benefit. Under the new legislation, they can take 25 percent or 50 percent of their benefit when they reach 20 years of service. That would offer them the money if they are moving into a new career, starting a business or trying to pay college expenses for their children.

PAY RAISE

For basic pay, a 1.3 percent increase. Lawmakers decided to let it set itself at 2.3 percent through an automatic calculation based on a government cost index. But the president has the authority to set the increase, and earlier this year, he put it at 1.3 percent. The troops got 1 percent raises in both 2014 and 2015. Service organizations aren’t happy…….

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