10/13/04 — 34.9 million approved for base

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34.9 million approved for base

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on October 13, 2004 2:03 PM

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is scheduled to receive $34.9 million for construction projects in next fiscal year's defense budget.

The bill approved last week by Congress appropriates $2.3 million for a new security forces squadron building for the 916th Refueling Wing and $32.6 million for 153 new houses, according to Dennis Goodson, chief engineer with the 4th Civil Engineering Squadron, who oversees all of the major construction on base.

The president is expected to sign the legislation into law soon, according to Kristen Quigley, press secretary with U.S. Rep. Walter Jones' office.

Other bases will benefit from the $130.8 million in projects included in the bill.

Camp Lejeune will receive around $4 million for an armory at Camp Geiger; $2.4 million for a combat training pool; and $4.6 million for an explosive ordinance disposal facility.

Cherry Point will receive around $27 million for Slocum Village replacement phase 3, which is 198 units; and $22.7 million to replace the fuel hydrant system.

New River Marine Corps Air Station will receive $2.2 million for an addition to the simulator building; around $12 million for an aircraft maintenance training facility; and $20.7 million for bachelor enlisted quarters.

The bill sets policies, programs and funding for the military. It authorizes $445.6 billion for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.

Highlights of the bill include a 3.5 percent across-the-board pay raise for military personnel; $10 billion for military construction and housing; and enhanced TriCare medical benefits for reservists and their families.

The bill also calls for the elimination of the Social Security offset under the Survivor Benefit Plan by increasing the annuities paid to survivors of military retirees who are 62 or older. Beneficiaries of the plan have faced a 20 percent drop in their annuity once they reached age 62. The government reduced the benefits to offset what the survivors received from Social Security.

"This has been a long, hard fight, and I'm very glad this bill will help so many of our most deserving military survivors by eliminating the 'Widow's Tax,'" said Rep. Jones, whose district includes Wayne County.