Gov. Whitmer Celebrates Signing of National Defense Authorization Act, Putting Michigan’s Service Members and Veterans First
LANSING, MI (STL.News) Governor Gretchen Whitmer celebrated yesterday’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 into law by President Joe Biden, which will directly support Michigan’s defense sector economy and support our state’s service members, veterans, and their families.
“Our country has long counted on Michigan to support our national defense, both through the dedicated service of the countless men and women serving in our armed forces and the innovative work being done through our well-established military and defense industries,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “The national defense bill signed into law by President Biden helps us put Michiganders first by providing for $144 million in military construction projects, increasing military pay and ensuring access to resources for transitioning service members, their families and the nearly 600,000 veterans that call Michigan home.”
Included in the bill’s provisions is nearly $144 million in investments for construction of new military facilities across Michigan: $28 million in upgrades at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County, $23 million to support infrastructure at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in Alpena County, $16 million in facility improvements at Camp Grayling Maneuver Readiness Center in Crawford County and $10 million in facility improvements at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base in Calhoun County. Camp Grayling will also receive $5.7 million through the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program which will allow for the construction of a natural gas energy generation facility. The bill also provides $12 million to construct an Army Reserve Center in Southfield and $49.09 million for a new Naval Operations Support Center in Battle Creek.
“The projects and initiatives included in this year’s NDAA are huge wins for our state. These investments will empower the next chapter of Michigan’s long and meaningful history as a center of innovation for our country’s national defense,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “I’d like to thank our entire congressional delegation and especially those members who serve on the House and Senate Armed Services committees for their work to secure these investments which will give the men and women of the Michigan National Guard the cutting-edge facilities they need to continue their incredible service to our communities, state and nation.”
Throughout the committee process in both the House and Senate, the Whitmer administration remained engaged and in close coordination with those members serving on the Armed Services committees to ensure Michigan’s needs were addressed. This coordinated effort through the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Governor’s federal affairs team resulted in the successful inclusion of these construction projects and verbiage to ensure Michigan remains at the forefront of innovation and the future war fight.
In addition to the military construction investments, the bill also includes support for Michigan’s defense and advanced technology sector to include: $5 million in funding to further research additive manufacturing as well as $7 million in funding for research into composite production practices. As Michigan is already home to extensive advanced vehicle system development, the bill also includes a provision that authorized the research and engineering of electric and alternative fuel vehicles. This funding will help ensure research and development for these vehicles is conducted in Michigan, helping to create good-paying jobs and keeping the state at the forefront of mobility.
Another critical component of the bill is language that prohibits the retirement of the A-10 Warthog fighter. The 107th Fighter Squadron, an A-10 Warthog squadron assigned to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, will continue its mission into the next fiscal year.
“The national defense bill is critical to maintaining our competitiveness on the global stage – particularly as other nations, like the Chinese government, look to expand their influence,” said Senator Gary Peters, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m pleased this bipartisan bill was signed into law – which not only helps solidify the Department of Defense’s commitment to Michigan – but provides a pay raise for servicemembers, helps address PFAS contamination and supports innovative military research and development that’s happening in Michigan.”
“The NDAA is key to protecting America’s freedoms and provides our military the resources it needs to keep us safe. The 2021 NDAA includes a much needed raise for our troops, pushes back against Chinese and Russian aggression and contains several of my amendments to ensure Selfridge Air National Guard Base remains active for years to come. I’m thrilled the President signed this legislation,” said Congresswoman Lisa McClain.
The NDAA also includes provisions to support service members, veterans and their families. The bill includes a 2.7 percent pay raise for both military service members and the civilian Department of Defense (DOD) workforce, a 3-year pilot program that enables TRI-CARE beneficiaries to receive their medications from an in-network, retail pharmacy rather than being required to obtain them from pharmacies at military bases or relying on the Postal Service and creates a basic needs allowance to help low-income military families put food on the table. Additional language was added to this year’s NDAA to support the DOD Transition Assistance Program. This new language will ensure that service members and their families are properly connected to local community groups, including veteran service organizations (VSOs), that can provide employment, healthcare and other transition services. An additional $42M in funding was also allocated for STARBASE, a DOD youth program that promotes STEM education. Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township was the first STARBASE program established in the U.S. This program provides K-12 students unique experiences in experiential learning and simulations and experiments in aviation and space-related fields. This program is also offered at the Battle Creek Air National Guard base.
“Our national defense should always be a bipartisan priority, and as a former Pentagon official, I firmly believe Congress has a solemn responsibility to pass a budget that values our men and women in uniform and ensures we can maintain our edge over competitors like China and Russia,” said Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. “I’m particularly pleased that my amendments to address supply chain vulnerabilities, PFAS contamination, and burn pit exposure among our veterans, have all been included. These three issues are examples of just how deeply Michigan is connected to our overall national security, and addressing them is critically important to our access to clean drinking water, our veterans’ safety, and our domestic manufacturing.”
The annual bill, which totals $768.2 billion, authorizes an additional $9.9 billion for defense needs outside the bill’s traditional jurisdiction, bringing the overall price tag to $777 billion. Additional components of the bill include $476 million to address PFAS contamination to include environmental remediation and restoration, the creation of a PFAS Task Force, the establishment of a mandatory report to be delivered to Congress outlining efforts to remediate PFAS exposure at 50 sites across the country, including the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Michigan, and mandates public disclosure of PFAS water contamination test results.
“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee I’m proud of the work done to support our Michigan National Guard in the FY22 NDAA,” said Congressman Jack Bergman. “Making critical investments in Michigan equities and including language supporting the Operation: Northern Strike exercise right here in the First District were top priorities. I’m grateful we were able to return the NDAA to a bipartisan endeavor and drive big wins for Michigan’s First District.”