The Department of Defense is bringing the hammer down on all services for failing to properly fund their Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs, demanding to know why every branch fell short of budget requirements.
With each service required to pay-in a certain percentage of taxpayer money that guarantees a certain amount of MWR support meant to “prevent Service members and their families from bearing costs that should be borne with [taxpayer funding],” according to Todd Weiler, assistant defense secretary for manpower and reserve affairs.
“These standards are not optional and are not subject to Military Department waiver,” Weiler wrote in a September memo to service officials.
According to Military Times, Weiler is meeting with service officials through this week to discuss the funding woes. The US Army and Navy have since missed the deadlines set out by Weiler, which was around mid-August.
Weiler says that after both branches missed the deadline, “I thought we needed to up our communication.”
In the US Marine Corps, 77% of “mission-sustaining” or “Category A” MWR programs came from taxpayer funds in FY15, when the programs are required to receive 85% of their funding from taxpayer dollars.
The USMC’s Business and Support Services Division spokesman, Bryan Driver, said USMC officials are “committed to the sustainment of valued MWR programs and services in this fiscally constrained environment, while also showing progress towards meeting the DoD [taxpayer funding] standards.”
Driver went on to say that while the Corps failed, they are looking to evaluate a base-by-base approach on finding savings while still being focused on programs to best serve Marines and their families.
That said, Weiler -who is also a former businessman and attack helicopter pilot who served in Desert storm- takes the feedback given to him -and the issue- rather personally.
“I’ve gotten some good feedback from folks really thanking us for looking into this. I felt good about that. It’s important to me. Having been a soldier before, these programs are important, he said.
Weiler added that while it is important to run businesses efficiently, handling the mission objectives is still the priority.
“If we have cuts because we’re doing business smarter and at the local level we’re eliminating programs to put money into programs people want more of, those are just smart business decisions,” he said. “I got that. But if it’s something more than that, then we need to address it.”
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