Alaska senators introduce Don Young Arctic Warrior Act

Rep. Don Young addresses constituents at The Powder House bar and grill. (Aug. 31, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate aims to alleviate some hardships faced by military service members in Alaska, including scholarships and retention bonuses for those serving in the field of behavioral health.

The Don Young Arctic Warrior Act, sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, was offered as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023.

In addition to proficiency pay and allowances for basic necessities, the bill would boost the Department of Defense’s ability to address the shortfall of behavioral health providers by establishing a graduate program in counseling and social work at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

“We must do more to solve the suicide crisis our military faces. We have learned that financial stress is a major contributor to suicidal ideation, but in Alaska, many servicemembers don’t have anywhere to turn for help,” Murkowski said.

“It’s no secret that training and living in the Arctic can at times present challenges relative to other duty stations,” Sullivan said. “As a Marine, I have witnessed firsthand the training and toughness required of our military in Alaska. Our legislation aims to provide better access to the resources and support Alaska’s service members and their families deserve in order to thrive in our unique environment.”