Lloyd Austin Washington state Hawaii Department reports Lloyd Austin Washington state Hawaii

Pentagon lays out new food, housing programs for troops

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File: U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Edward D. Banta (left), commanding general, Marine Corps Installations Command (MCICOM), and his wife Molly Banta, tour the a construction site for base housing during their visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), WASHINGTON - The Pentagon announced a number of new programs Thursday that are aimed at helping service members who are struggling with housing shortages and steep food and living expenses as they move from base to base.Gil Cisneros, undersecretary for personnel, told reporters that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the moves, which also include programs to expand child care and make it easier for spouses to find work.The new programs, he said, will help "ensure we continue to offer a competitive suite of benefits that makes DOD the employer of choice for those who so selflessly serve."With growing competition from corporations seeking to hire young people in the tight job market, the military services are struggling to meet their recruiting goals.A key problem in the past year or two has been housing.

Service members transferring to new duty stations have complained about difficulties finding rentals, particularly ones they can afford as escalating housing costs surpass their military allowance.

In response, Austin ordered increases in the basic housing allowance in 28 areas where rent has spiked more than 20% above current allowances.Austin also directed a permanent increase in temporary lodging expenses for service members moving into areas where there are housing shortages.

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