MCPON Stevens Delivers Congressional Testimony
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(AW/NAC) Michael Stevens testified before Congress Feb. 25.
Stevens appeared before the House and Armed Services Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.
Stevens, along with the senior enlisted leaders from the Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force, discussed the current status of their respective military branches, focusing specifically on quality-of-life programs and issues that are cause of concern for today's service members.
Stevens discussed the Navy's current operational tempo and told the subcommittee there are currently nearly 100 Navy ships underway with thousands of Sailors standing the watch. He went on to talk about quality of life for Sailors, and the uncertainty that sequestration has created.
"My regular interface with our Sailors and their families over the past year has shown an overall satisfactory quality of life; however, the ongoing discussion regarding possible changes to future pay and compensation has created an air of uncertainty," said Stevens.
He explained that Sailors are concerned there will be reductions in medical benefits, pay and compensation, and family programs. While they understand there will always be some degree of uncertainty in the geopolitical and operational world, ambiguity relating to military benefits is not as easily understood. Stevens zeroed in on a specific area of compensation during his testimony.
"If you were to ask me today to pick one [concern] with regard to pay and compensation, my greatest and immediate concern for our people is the future of health care," said Stevens. Health care is a quality of life issue that constantly resurfaces during my fleet interactions. It is extremely important to our Sailors and their families, and is very influential in recruiting and retention decisions."
Beyond military pay and compensation, MCPON expressed concerned about the deteriorating condition of single Sailor barracks - a deterioration that has been amplified by sequestration cuts. Ultimately, the Navy has had to prioritize warfighting requirements at the expense of investing in the maintenance of barracks infrastructure.
"This risk has resulted in the overall condition of our barracks falling to approximately 50% adequacy," said Stevens. Should sequestration resurface, I am concerned the condition of our barracks will decline further. This standard of living directly impacts our Sailors' quality of life."
Stevens also spoke about the importance of Family Support Programs such as: Navy Fleet and Family Support Centers; Navy Child and Youth Programs; Navy Ombudsman Programs; and Family Readiness Groups. He emphasized the positive impact of these programs and thanked the subcommittee for their continued support before delivering his final remarks on quality of life.
"As I have stated in prior testimonies, one of the most important and effective weapon systems we can provide our nation and Navy is a combination of individual and unit morale," said Stevens. And it is my firm belief that the support this subcommittee provides to the Navy greatly impacts our ability to sustain this weapon system."
The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy regularly testifies before Congress along with the senior enlisted leaders of the other services. This was his third appearance before this congressional subcommittee.
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