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January 20, 2023

The Military Must Do More to Help Junior Service Members Find and Pay for Child Care

By Col Ernest "Nest” Cage

In the military, one of the most stressful parts of relocating to a new assignment, second only to finding a home, is securing child care. The post-COVID economy has driven cost and competition for child care to all-time highs, leaving service members to figure out the challenging question of how to pay for something they have to cover.

That's gotten harder as the price of everything from bread to gas has gone up at breakneck speed, far outpacing military pay increases. Child care costs have risen dramatically during the pandemic by41%, now accounting for 20% of the average American's salary.

Fully funded child care would be another positive step on the long and continuous journey of improved military compensation.

The Department of Defense should push for legislation and funding to cover the cost of non-school age child care for all active-duty junior enlisted troops and company-grade officers in the paygrades of E-1 through E-5 and O-1 through O-3 who have eligible dependents. This entitlement would help bolster mission readiness, strengthen young military families' finances, and, in an increasingly difficult recruiting environment, better position the armed forces to compete for talent.

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