DoD

February 15, 2013

Same-sex couples can claim new benefits by October

WASHINGTON — Military members and retirees with same-sex partners will qualify for up to 24 new benefits under policy changes Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Monday.

In a memo to the service chiefs outlining the new policy, Panetta noted the department has “essentially completed” repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that barred gay and lesbian military members from serving openly.

Now, the secretary wrote to the chiefs, military leaders’ work must “expand to changing our policies and practices to ensure fairness and equal treatment and to taking care of all of our service members and their Families, to the extent allowable under law.”

Two of the new benefits are available at the service member’s election: hospital visitation and Family Readiness Group membership. For 22 other benefits, service members and their same-sex partners may file a “declaration of domestic partnership.” That declaration entitles same-sex partners to military identification cards, commissary and exchange shopping privileges, child care and youth programs, sexual assault counseling and other benefits.

Housing, medical and dental care and overseas command sponsorship for same-sex partners are not included in this round of policy changes. As Panetta noted in a statement, those benefits are restricted under the Defense of Marriage Act, commonly known as DOMA, which defines “spouse” as someone married to a person of the opposite sex. The Supreme Court is reviewing the law, and is expected to rule on it later this year.

The secretary wrote, “In the event that the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer applicable to the Department of Defense, it will be the policy of the department to construe the words ‘spouse’ and ‘marriage’ without regard to sexual orientation, and married couples, irrespective of sexual orientation, and their dependents, will be granted full military benefits.”

A senior Pentagon official emphasized in a briefing to Pentagon reporters today that benefit changes will happen as soon as possible. Panetta’s guidance to the services directed they make “every effort” to have systems in place to accept same-sex benefit requests by Aug. 31.

In no case, he wrote, may the services delay beyond Oct. 1 in rolling out the benefits.

Rolling out a new benefit takes time, the official said, as regulations and instructions, systems and software all have to be updated, and workers will need to be trained in new processes.

“Normally, we’re looking at a year” to make such changes, the official noted. “This is a very ambitious schedule; we’re really pressing hard to do this.”

Another official said the Defense Department is working to see if the housing benefit can be added to the list and is developing a mechanism to allow burial of same-sex partners at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. The domestic partnership declaration isn’t feasible in cases where one or both partners have died, the second official added.

Retirees and their same-sex partners will be able to file the declaration once the new systems are in place. The first official estimated that 5,600 same-sex couples include an active-duty service member, 3,400 include a Reserve or National Guard member, and 8,000 include a retired military member. The cost of implementing the new benefits, the official added, would be negligible.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
DoD

DOD: New peer-to-peer service aims to provide counseling support

WASHINGTON — Starting this summer, the Defense Department will offer an additional counseling service to help military Service members, transitioning troops and family members deal with a host of issues before they become crises. Peer-to-peer support, which will be available through Military OneSource, will offer assistance from counselors who have at least a master’s degree...
 
 
DoD
Air-Force

Air Force:F-35 pilot training begins at Luke

Travis Byrom, a Lockheed Martin instructor pilot, briefs students in the first F-35 Lightning II training class May 5 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Upon completion of training, the students will assume the role of instructor to...
 
 
DoD

DOD: Area flyover to commemorate World War II victory

WASHINGTON — America will remember the millions who helped make possible the European theater victory in World War II with a flyover of the Capitol and National Mall area by historic aircraft today. To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of fighting in Europe, or VE Day, aircraft from all periods of World War...
 

 
DoD
U.S. Air Force graphic

Air Force: $2M prize offered for development of small, efficient turboshaft engine

U.S. Air Force graphic The Air Force Prize is designed to spark American ingenuity by inviting a wide audience to compete, and to encourage innovative solutions to Air Force mission requirements beyond typical acquisition progr...
 
 
DoD

Air Force: 1,000th F-35 training sortie flown at Luke AFB

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE (AFNS) — The 56th Fighter Wing flew its 1,000th F-35A Lightning II training sortie Tuesday, making it the fastest F-35 wing to reach the 1,000-sortie milestone in the Defense Department. This is the second historic milestone in the past two weeks. Last week, Luke’s first F-35 student sortie was flown marking...
 
 
DoD

Disaster preparedness mirrors military readiness, official says

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department takes pride in its readiness to defend the nation against military threats, and also in its role as a partner in emergency and disaster response, a DOD official said. In an interview with DOD News on the April observance of the “America’s PrepareAthon!” campaign, Robert Salesses, deputy assistant secretary of...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin