06.09.15

Peters Introduces Amendments to National Defense Authorization Act

Amendments Would Improve Military Vehicle Fuel Economy, Invest in Alternate Fuel Vehicles, and Ensure Due Process for Veterans Erroneously Discharged

 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced he introduced a series of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 that is currently being debated in the U.S. Senate. Peters introduced two amendments to encourage fuel efficiency in military vehicles and support investments in alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), as well as an amendment to help ensure due process for veterans who may have been erroneously discharged.

Peters’ two amendments focused on fuel economy, which he introduced with Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), would encourage research on military vehicle technology to reduce fuel consumption of military vehicles and would establish a Department of Defense (DoD) Alternative Fueled Vehicle Infrastructure Fund. The weight of armor added to vehicles designed to protect servicemembers and equipment  significantly increases fuel consumption, and new research to improve fuel efficiency would save taxpayer money and reduce vulnerabilities in combat. 

“Developing fuel-efficient military vehicles and investing in alternative fuel vehicles will help keep our military agile and reduce vulnerabilities when deployed,” said Senator Peters. “This amendment will help make critical investments in updating – and reducing the long-term expense of maintaining – our military vehicles.”

The Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Fund would make investments in fueling infrastructure on or near DOD facilities to support the operation of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs).  This fund would also help reduce the cost of non-tactical vehicle fleets.

Peters also introduced an amendment to help veterans who may have been erroneously given an administrative discharge, rather than an honorable discharge. Often times, active duty members who undergo traumatic experiences and demonstrate altered behavior as a result are given administrative discharge, which makes them ineligible for certain benefits, including G.I. benefits and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans. Senator Peters’ amendment will create a presumption in favor of the veteran when petitioning the Secretary of Defense for an upgrade in discharge status based on medical evidence certified by the VA.

“It is very concerning that some servicemembers are improperly discharged because of behavior linked to the invisible wounds of war, and we must ensure they are treated fairly when petitioning to upgrade their discharge status,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve. “I’m proud to introduce this amendment that will help our nation’s heroes who honorably served their country get the care and benefits that they’ve earned." 

An administrative discharge is often given for minor misconduct, including being late to formation and missing appointments, behavior often seen in those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental traumas. This amendment is supported by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Wounded Warrior Project, Disabled Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Military Officers Association of America.

Last week, the Senate approved an amendment offered by Peters and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to authorize $371 million in funding to install medium caliber cannons on 81 Stryker vehicles forward deployed in Europe, strategically positioned to support U.S. interests in Eastern Europe and our commitment to NATO and our allies. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Stryker armored vehicle and many Michigan companies serve as suppliers.

“The Stryker armored fighting vehicles are not only critical to our military’s mission, but also to our state’s economy since the engineering work for this upgrade will occur in Michigan and many of our state’s companies serve as suppliers,” added Peters. “I am pleased the Senate passed this bipartisan amendment to install 81 new cannons on Stryker vehicles deployed in Eastern Europe to protect U.S. interests and uphold our commitment to NATO and key allies in the region.”

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