Veterans and Civil Rights Coalition Letter on Anti-DEIA Provisions in the 2025 NDAA

Dear Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Wicker:

As the Senate Armed Services Committee begins work on its National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25), the undersigned organizations, including civil and human rights organizations and those representing members of U.S. military families and veteran communities, write to express concerns about the possibility of Committee amendments that seek to restrict or eliminate Department of Defense (DoD) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) programs and initiatives.

You may recall that during congressional consideration of the FY 2024 NDAA, amendments were proposed that threatened the health and welfare of servicemembers and their families, and would have undermined the military’s DEIA efforts, and harmed recruitment, retention, and force readiness. Thankfully, most of these amendments were not enacted into law – but several were, undermining strength and cohesion of our armed forces.

The campaign against DEIA in the U.S. military is part of a strategic effort to roll back civil and human rights in the United States. Some who advocate against DEIA spread misinformation to weaken support for these vital programs. Last year, the harmful provisions targeted minorities within the military, sought to restrict critical gender-affirming care for servicemembers and their families, targeted inclusive training and educational curricula in the DoD, and falsely suggested that content addressing diversity and equity promotes racism and discrimination.

We appreciate Congress’ previous support for the military’s DEIA initiatives to enhance equity, cohesion, and ensure force readiness. In 2020, Congress mandated that the DoD establish a Chief Diversity Officer, establish Senior Advisors for DEI in each service, and include diversity and inclusion data in the National Defense Strategy. Similarly, DoD leadership has repeatedly emphasized the importance of DEIA-related initiatives. In 2023, the Under Secretary for Military Personnel and Readiness, the Honorable Gilbert Cisneros, Jr., alongside the Assistant Secretaries for Manpower and Reserve Affairs for the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, testified before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel that DEI was a “force multiplier,” saying “With the Department’s priority mission to provide a combat-credible Force, we must prioritize a force that is lethal, resilient, and reflective of America’s diversity.”

Investment in DEIA initiatives remains critical to ensuring the strength and cohesion of the U.S. military. More than 40 percent of service members identify as minorities and, by 2027, the majority of adults eligible for military service will be people of color. However, a 2021 survey of servicemembers and their families documented that nearly a third of respondents who identified as racial or ethnic minorities stated discrimination concerns factored into their decision of whether to remain in the military. Furthermore, a 2020 survey revealed that the majority of minority servicemembers have witnessed racism in the ranks. Black and Latino servicemembers remain vastly under-represented in the officer corps, compared to their numbers in the force as a whole. LGBTQ+ servicemembers also report discrimination; one survey showed over 80 percent had faced sexual harassment or assault during their service. Lastly, it is well-documented that discrimination against minority servicemembers reverberates throughout the force, undermining unit cohesion, exacerbating extremist threats, limiting recruitment and retention, and damaging force readiness.

We urge Congress to support the DoD’s essential work promoting the welfare of an increasingly diverse force by rejecting any effort to restrict or eliminate DEIA initiatives in the FY25 NDAA – and by restoring the DEIA programs limited in the FY 2024 NDAA. In addition, we urge you to oppose any provisions in the House FY 2025 NDAA and amendments that would target health and other benefits for minority servicemembers, their families, and veteran communities.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have questions, please contact Erin Wilson, Senior Director, Extremism and Human Rights [email protected] or Michael Lieberman, Senior Policy Counsel, Hate and Extremism, [email protected] or Chris Purdy, Director, Veterans for American Ideals [email protected].



Veterans’ and Military Families’ Organizations


Minority Veterans of America

National Veterans Network

Secure Families Initiative

Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO

Vet Voice Foundation

Veteran Advocacy Project

Veterans for American Ideals


Civil and Human Rights Organizations

ADL (Anti-Defamation League)

American Association of University Women

American Atheists

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Family Voices NJ

Global Project Against Hate and Extremism


Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights First

Impact Fund

Interfaith Alliance

Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Latino Farmers and Ranchers International Inc.

Matthew Shepard Foundation

National Association of Social Workers

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Council of Jewish Women

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Urban League

Not in Our Town

SPAN Parent Advocacy Network

SPLC Action Fund

The Lamia Afghan Foundation

The Sikh Coalition

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF)

Union for Reform Judaism

Western States Center


Published on June 6, 2024


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