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U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, secured major wins to protect U.S. troops in the annual defense bill – the Fiscal Year 21 National Defense Authorization Act – that passed out of the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.

“As a former company commander in Kuwait and Iraq, I understand just how important it is for all servicemembers to be equipped for the battlefield,” said Senator Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the United States Senate. “From ensuring female troops have body armor that fits to helping stop sexual assault within military ranks; and from funding effective treatments for traumatic brain injury to getting our troops the hazard pay they deserve for fighting on the front lines of COVID-19, this annual defense bill includes a number of my efforts to ensure our military men and women are protected as they defend our nation and way of life.”

Earlier this week, Ernst outlined her priorities for the bill, including her proposals to improve protection, safety, and treatment for the men and women of our Armed Forces.

Senator Ernst’s provisions to protect the troops will:

  • Develop and field proper-fitting body armor for female soldiers
  • Work to stop sexual assault in the military before it happens and lower the barriers for reporting by victims, including the Coast Guard
  • Make the military courts handling sexual assault and other cases more efficient and accountable
  • Fund proven and effective medical treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) 
  • Provide hazard pay for National Guard troops on the front lines to fight COVID-19
  • Improve survivability and safety for military combat vehicles