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September 2nd, 2009

Funding approved for diversity recruitment

U.S. Rep. John Hall

West Point – U.S. Rep. John Hall (D-Dover) announced that he has secured House approval of $1 million to fund diversity recruitment for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The funding, requested by the Academy, will help West Point revolutionize its minority recruiting process for the nation’s elite officer corps. Congressman Hall worked to insert the funding into the fiscal year 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support.

For years, West Point has struggled in reaching its diversity class composition goals, especially in terms of African-Americans. The average number of African-Americans West Point has admitted over the last decade has been 82 - far beneath it’s internal goal of 130-169, based on 10-13% of a 1,300 person incoming class.

"West Point is working hard to make the officer corps more representative of the Army as a whole," said Congressman Hall. "This federal funding would help West Point achieve this goal."

This April, West Point hosted its 10th Annual West Point Diversity Leadership Conference, with the theme of "Building a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion." The conference studied in depth the practices and accomplishments of successful diversity and inclusion efforts in the private sector, government, and academia.

Within the past four years, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force have each invested in strategic diversity initiatives. More recently, the Service Academies have established staff diversity responsibilities or institutional diversity offices. The funding in the Defense Appropriations bill would provide the financing to support these initiatives.

Congressman Hall is now working with the New York Senate delegation to ensure that this critical funding is included in the Senate version of the bill, and is signed into law by President Obama.

The Defense Appropriations Act makes critical investments in the health, well-being and readiness of our armed forces. It includes a 3.4% pay raise for military personnel and supports military family advocacy programs. It also continues efforts to end the practice of "stop loss" and pays troops an additional $500 for every month their term of service is involuntarily extended by that practice. To achieve fiscal responsibility, the legislation reigns in outsourcing and puts Defense personnel, not contractors, in charge of critical department functions.

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