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Vandenberg Airman sparks change throughout DOD

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erica Stewart
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
When she stood in front of senior leaders Dec. 21 at Breaker's Dining Facility here and voiced her concern, she had no idea her question would be heard by Department of Defense officials.

The question Airman 1st Class Erica Hudson presented during an Airmen's breakfast that morning came from a concern with how the staff of the child development center on base charged patrons for their service.

"Another co-worker's rates increased due to her husband receiving combat duty pay when he deployed, and I just thought that it wasn't right to take money meant to support a family during wartime separation," said Airman Hudson, a 30th Operations Support Squadron client support administrator.

The bases' point of contact for managing the CDC took the question to Air Force Space Command officials, and then the Air Staff to provide guidance. Air Staff officials went to the Department of Defense for an absolute answer.

"Airman Hudson's question caught the attention of many high-ranking (people who) agreed a warzone pay benefit should not be included as income, thereby increasing what families pay to send children to the CDC," said Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Gordon, the 30th Space Wing command chief.

"I was just in the right place at the right time and asked the right question," Airman Hudson said. 

Department of Children and Youth Services officials issued a statement providing clarification on the total family income definition used in calculating parent fees. 

"There is no separarate category called 'combat pay,' and the only two combat pays are hardship duty pay and imminent danger pay ... so, this means that 'combat pay' is no longer included in the calculation," said Eliza Nesmith, the Air Staff Community Action Information Board executive director. 

Vandenberg AFB CDC staff members view this rate change in a positive light and were happy to be able to help their patrons.

"This is a positive change," said Verna Brown, the CDC director here. "We are here to help our patrons and support them."

One Airman asked, and now the nation's military is hearing the answer.

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