WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, helped advance the bipartisan annual national defense bill to the full Senate. Peters successfully led or supported provisions to combat PFAS contamination, investments in Michigan’s military facilities, ensure veterans and military families receive their benefits, strengthen our national security, and give our servicemembers a pay raise.
“Michiganders play a critical role in our national defense and I was proud to secure critical investments in Michigan’s defense sector. From efforts to combat PFAS contamination – to ensuring military families’ hard-earned benefits are received – to bolstering Michigan’s military installations – this legislation takes important steps to support those who have served and continue to serve our nation,” said Senator Peters, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m pleased this bill also includes a well-deserved pay raise for our troops and bolsters our national security.”
The National Defense Authorization Act sets annual policy for the Department of Defense (DOD). The following provisions Peters led or supported were included in the Senate Armed Services Committee-approved bill, which now heads to the full Senate:
Investing in Michigan Military Facilities:
- $16 Million for National Guard Armory at Camp Grayling: Peters secured $16 million for a National Guard armory at Camp Grayling. This funding authorization aligns with the President’s budget calling for funding the armory and helps ensure the Armory can receive full appropriations. This builds on Peters’ efforts in last year’s national defense bill to secure the authorization of $5.7 million for the construction of a power generation system.
- $24 Million for Marine Corps Reserve Unit at Battle Creek: Peters included $24 million for new supply and storage facilities for the Marine Corps Reserve Unit in Battle Creek. This builds on Peters’ efforts in last year’s national defense bill to secure the authorization of $10 million to construct a new main gate and entrance facility to Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.
Addressing PFAS Contamination:
- Increasing Transparency in PFAS Research: The bill includes a Peters-led effort that would bolster the Department of Defense’s (DoD) transparency surrounding PFAS research to keep servicemembers and communities safer. It asks DoD to establish practices to ensure the timely and complete dissemination of research findings and data relating to PFAS to the general public. It would also specifically ask DoD to release to the public within 180 days up-to-date information on any research collaborations, the development and testing of fluorine-free firefighting foam, PFAS health effects and the impacts on veterans and military families, and treatment options for drinking water and safe PFAS disposal.
Supporting Michigan’s Defense Sector and Advanced Technology:
- Funding for Active Protection Systems: Peters secured $10 million in funding for the Stryker vehicle, along with a requirement that the U.S. Army identifies potential Active Protection Systems, which counter anti-tank weapon attacks on combat vehicles like the Stryker – the Army’s most versatile and deployable combat vehicle. General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Stryker armored vehicle and many Michigan companies serve as suppliers.
- Funding Electrification Technology for Army Vehicles: Peters secured $7 million in funding for the continued development of Next Generation Electrified Transmission, as well as a provision encouraging continued Army funding towards the project to reduce fossil fuel reliance and meet climate strategy goals. This funding will ensure that vital work to develop next-generation, hybrid engines can continue being done right here in Michigan.
- Advancing the Future of Warfare: Peters included a provision that would require the U.S. Marine Corps to issue a report to Congress detailing how the USMC plans to utilize the reserve component to bolster unmanned aerial systems capabilities. The USMC’s Force Design 2030, which details how USMC will meet new challenges in the future, lists Michigan as a potential site for a reserve USMC drone squadron.
- Bolstering Cybersecurity Efforts: Peters supported a provision to establish the DoD Cyber and Digital Service Academy as a scholarship-for-service program partnered with universities and colleges in the United States, with a DOD service requirement for participants. As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters is leading the charge to strengthen our cybersecurity and has advanced significant cybersecurity reforms through Congress.
- Modernizing Army Combat Teams: Peters included a provision that directs a long-term strategy for the modernization of the Army's Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT) and Army pre-positioned stocks (APS); and authorizes increased procurement of ABCT systems. Many of the vehicles in the Army ABCTs are designed and built in Michigan.
Supporting Our Troops and Their Families:
- Pay Raise for Troops: Peters supported an authorization of funding to support a 4.6 percent pay raise for both military servicemembers and the DoD civilian workforce.
- Ensuring Servicemembers and Their Families Receive the Benefits They Have Earned: Earlier this year, the DoD began implementing a provision Peters previously passed to provide National Guardsmen and Reservists with the official documentation granted to other servicemembers following their retirement or completion of service. Currently, Reservists do not receive a separation document detailing their service and Guardsmen do not receive the same forms as Active Duty servicemembers after completion of service. The DD-214 form is often required by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other private sector institutions to certify qualification for benefits. Under the announced DoD policy, Guardsmen and Reservists will receive DD-214-1 forms, which will more accurately document their complete time of service and ensure they receive the military benefits they have earned. In this year’s defense bill, Peters included a provision to codify this DoD policy.
- Improving Veterans Discharge Process: Peters secured a provision to create a joint committee between the Department of Veterans Affairs and DoD, which would provide recommendations to improve coordination between the two Departments on matters related to review boards and identify outreach procedures and opportunities for both Departments to better inform eligible veterans of the review board process. This builds on Peters’ Fairness for Veterans legislation he authored and got signed into law that requires veteran discharge review boards to give liberal consideration to petitions for honorable discharge status if the servicemember has been diagnosed with PTSD, TBI or other related conditions connected to their military service. As of the fall of 2020, more than 1,500 veterans have had their discharges upgraded since his legislation was enacted.
- Supporting Troops Preparedness: Peters secured a provision authorizing funding for female/small stature body armor and cold weather gear.
Invest in Defense Systems and Support U.S. Security Interests:
- Supporting Ukraine and Key Allies: The bill extends and modifies the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which provides appropriate security assistance to the Government of Ukraine and to other forces or groups recognized by, and under the authority of, the Government of Ukraine; and authorizes funding to provide security assistance to Ukraine via this authority. Peters supported a provision to express the sense of the Senate that the United States stands with the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom, sovereignty, and pursuit of further Euro-Atlantic integration. Peters also supported a provision that expresses the sense of the Senate that the United States' commitment to NATO is ironclad, and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a unified response to Russia's unjust war in Ukraine and other shared security challenges.
- Supporting Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Research: Peters successfully included a provisions to reauthorize cooperation between the U.S. and Israel on counter-unmanned aerial systems issues. This builds on Peters’ efforts in the previous national defense bill, which authorized a program for joint research and development with Israel on counter-unmanned aerial systems technology. A range of unmanned aerial systems from small, commercially available platforms to larger, armed aircraft pose a threat to both the United States and Israel. This cooperative research program will allow the United States military to benefit from Israel’s expertise and experience in countering unmanned aerial systems.
- Supporting Defense Relationship Between U.S. and Israel: Peters included a provision to clarify the requirements and expectations from Congress for the U.S. Israel Operations Technology Working Group. Peters previously called for the formation of the working group with the Israeli government to focus on shared defense technology issues and coordinate defense capabilities, research and development.
- Building Information Operations: Peters included a requirement for the DOD to better identify and build up partner nation capacity to conduct information operations.
- Bolstering Supply Chains: Peters included a requirement for the development of risk management guidance for DoD pharmaceutical supply chains, a plan for implementing that guidance and establishing a working group to better assess and mitigate associated risks.
- Supporting Defense Community Infrastructure Projects: Peters secured language altering the requirement for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP) program by allowing for land which is community owned but DOD leased to be eligible for DCIP project funding.
- Strengthening Tactical Vehicle Safety: Peters included a provision that directs a pilot program on military tactical vehicle safety, leveraging data recording devices; and accelerates continued safety upgrades to High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Peters has long been a champion of vehicle safety measures including pushing for anti-lock braking systems for HMMWVs.