Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today asked Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley about food insecurity within the armed forces:

Video of the exchange is available here and text follows:

Senator Feinstein: “I’d like to raise your awareness of food insecurity in the military, to include active Guard and Reserve troops.

“The Washington Post has reported on this problem and Jamie Lutz at the Center for Strategic and International Studies has also documented that service members face hunger at rates exceeding the general population.

“The adjutant general in California has likewise indicated that we have this problem in California. It is most pronounced among junior enlisted personnel, especially those with children.

“So here’s the question. Do you agree that we have this problem of food insecurity, what is its impact on our readiness and what do you believe the military will do about it?”

 

Secretary Austin: “Yes, I do agree that we have an issue with, as you pointed out, with our lower ranking enlisted force. And it is important to me. The health and welfare of our force, our troops and our families are very, very important to me.

You probably heard me talk about this before and you heard me mention it in my opening statement that we want to make sure that people can put food – good food, healthy food – on the table.

That’s why I’ve asked you to support me in providing a 4.6 percent pay raise to the force. Each of the services are making sure that they’re doing things to not only help their lower ranking enlisted force, but also making sure that they’re teaching them how to – helping them learn how to manage finances and other things.

So this is a thing that we’re focused on at the department level. And I would say that all of our services are focused on it as well. Again, it’s very, very important to us.”

 

Chairman Milley: “Senator, I would just add that taking care of our people is critically important for our entire chain of command. And I know it’s of great interest to the Congress. That pay raise will go a long way to help.

“We do acknowledge that is a real issue. The size and scale and scope – the Secretary’s got some folks out there trying to determine exactly what the parameters of that are, but it’s real.

“No soldier, sailor, airman, Marine should struggle to feed their family. Having a good house over their head, good medical care, good education, safe and secure environment, and putting food on the table is fundamental.

“Sixty percent of our force is married, on average two children per, relatively young. And we owe it to them – if they’re going to put their life on the line for this country we owe it to them to make sure they’re being taken care of, and we intend to do that.”

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