NDAA, Now Law, Addresses Aviation Safety, Honors Dogs, More

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Washington Report

President Donald Trump signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act Monday in New York. The bill offers the policies under which the Defense Department is to operate. A later appropriations bill will provide the funding. 

Trump has been criticized for not mentioning the bill’s namesake, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is battling brain cancer, during the signing ceremony. The two men have had a public feud since before Trump entered the White House.

While NGAUS has previously highlighted how the bill affects the National Guard with new and modernized equipment, better benefits and more, [https://www.ngaus.org/sites/default/files/NGAUS-Report-FY19-Conference-NDAA.pdf] the massive bill includes a plethora of other items. 

For example, the law establishes an independent National Commission on Military Aviation Safety, a reaction to a series of aviation accidents in recent months. Between March 15 and April 6, 14 people died in seven incidents. In May, a C-130 flown by the Puerto Rico Air National Guard crashed in Georgia, claiming nine lives. 

The commission would be responsible for studying military aviation mishaps and making recommendations on required changes to training, maintenance, personnel, or other policies related to aviation safety.
Also, military working dogs who perform with courage on the battlefield are eligible for the Guardians of America’s Freedom Medal. The provision reflects legislation introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and is the first Pentagon recognition for the four-legged service members.  

“These dogs endure multiple tours of duty. Some come back having lost limbs and others give their lives in service to their teams,” Menendez said. “Yet until now, the U.S. military did not recognize the incredible service and sacrifice of working dogs and their handlers.”

Domestic violence is now a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The crime has been prosecuted in the military, but under more general categories such as assault. The change makes it possible for law enforcement to track offenders when they leave the military.

Also, eligibility for Military OneSource benefits have been extended from the current 180 days to 365 days after separation or retirement from military service to ensure all service members and families have access to comprehensive support as they transition to civilian life.