NewsBytes September 17, 2021     

In this issue:
NDAA to Move Forward in House
Report Shows Veterans Suicides Declining 
House Bill Includes PFAS Chemical Provisions

House NDAA Scheduled to Move Forward
The House plans to debate floor amendments and approve its version of the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.4350) next week. The FRA is supporting two amendments to the NDAA; Concurrent Receipt  and the Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act . Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center to weigh in on these amendments.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved its version of the FY2022 NDAA and the full Senate is expected to debate floor amendments and approve its version later this year. Once both chambers approve their bill, a conference committee will be appointed to resolve the differences between the two bills and then submit a final bill to be voted on in the House and Senate. If the bill is approved, it shall be sent to the president to be signed into law or vetoed.  

VA Report: Veterans Suicides Declining 
The Department of Veterans Affairs recently released its 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report. The report shows a decrease from 2018 to 2019 in the total number of veteran suicide deaths (6 percent) and a decrease in the rate of veteran suicides. Specifically, the VA reported that there were 6,261 veteran suicide deaths in 2019 — 399 fewer than in 2018. Of the 17 veterans who died by suicide per day on average in 2019, approximately ten of them had no recent interaction with the VA health care system. The data also revealed that the female veteran suicide rate decreased by almost 13 percent, which is the largest rate decrease for female veterans in 17 years.

House NDAA Includes PFAS Chemical Provisions
As reported in the Sept. 3, 2021, NewsBytes, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) marked up and approved the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.4350). Among the many provisions added to the bill, are provisions requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, contaminated sites on military installations. The cleanup must comply with state standards. Additional PFAS requirements added to the bill include:
• Requiring the DoD to offer PFAS exposure evaluation and testing for service members who want that as part of their annual examination;
• Requiring the agency to publish the results of drinking and ground water PFAS tests conducted on or near military installations or former defense sites; and 
• Requiring the DoD to report by March 1, 2022, progress it’s making identifying firefighting foams that don’t contain PFAS, but can effectively address the high-risk jet fuel and other fires with which military bases deal. 

The FRA is a member of the TEAM (Toxic Exposure in the American Military) coalition that is working to establish a comprehensive framework to address past, present, and future toxic exposures in the military at locations both domestic and abroad.

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