Defense bill passed; key provisions for Michigan

Published: Dec. 8, 2016 at 4:19 PM EST
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U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, helped pass defense legislation that will support veterans suffering from mental trauma, as well as Michigan’s manufacturers and small businesses.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy for the Department of Defense (DoD) for Fiscal Year 2017, passed the House of Representatives last week and is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Also included in the NDAA is a 2.1% pay raise for servicemembers--the largest pay increase in six years.

“Our brave men and women put their lives on the line in defense of our nation, and this bill will provide the necessary tools and resources for our military while ensuring that those suffering from the invisible wounds have the support they need after their service,” said Sen. Peters.

“I’m also pleased that this bill also includes provisions to bolster the Michigan manufacturers and workers who are producing goods to help America’s servicemembers complete their mission and ensures small businesses are better prepared to protect themselves from ever-evolving cyber threats," Sen. Peters said.

NDAA Provisions Important to Michigan:

A bipartisan provision to help veterans who may have been erroneously given a less than honorable discharge due to behavior resulting from metal traumas including PTSD.

The bipartisan Fairness for Veterans provision gives consideration to petitions for changes in discharge status to honorable if the servicemember has been diagnosed with PTSD, TBI or related conditions in connection with their military service. A less than honorable discharge prevents veterans from accessing Post-9/11 GI Bill opportunities, VA home loans and other benefits. Michigan is home to over 600,000 veterans, including 50,000 post-9/11 veterans.

Legislation requiring that the DoD provide American-made athletic footwear to new military recruits.

DoD already applies this policy–known as the Berry Amendment–to uniforms and combat boots, but not athletic footwear.

Provisions to maintain the construction of two Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), including one in Marinette, off the Menominee River.

The facility that produces the LCS employs hundreds of Michiganders. The USS Detroit, an LCS that was commissioned in October, was built in Marinette.

Language enabling the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assist small businesses in planning for and protecting against cyber security attacks.

Peters, a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, introduced the Small Business Cyber Security Improvements Act earlier this year with Senator David Vitter (R-LA). Michigan is home to 11 SBDC regional offices, which worked with over 5,000 business in Michigan in 2015 alone.