The Department of Defense prioritizes protecting the environment, health, and safety of both its military and the surrounding communities that may be affected by the Department’s operations. We understand that the DOD’s primary mission is to provide National Security while ensuring that we train and equip Service members with the infrastructure and weapons systems to maintain a high readiness level, but DOD acknowledges that this can be done while addressing environmental justice.
Currently, DOD addresses environmental justice through its Environmental Justice Strategy, which focuses on identifying the impacts of DOD activities on minority and low-income populations; promoting partnerships with all stakeholders; streamlining Government; and fostering nondiscrimination in DOD programs.
DOD addresses environmental justice as part of planning and cleanup programs by evaluating environmental justice as part of its environmental planning practices and through its cleanup efforts through its Restoration Advisory Boards. The department also addresses environmental justice and social equity on and off military installations throughout our civil and military works programs.
Additional DOD environmental justice efforts focus on ensuring safe, thriving conditions for military families, strengthening alliances and coordination with Native and Indigenous populations, reducing climate change risks to military installations, and integrating environmental justice into adjacent defense communities while supporting resilience and the military mission. For more details on how environmental justice relates to climate, see DOD’s Climate Action Plan here: https://www.sustainability.gov/pdfs/dod-2021-cap.pdf, which identifies environmental justice as one of the department’s four enablers.
One of the most important ways DOD is advancing equity for underserved communities is by enhancing support for military families and addressing the barriers underserved military families face in achieving economic security and health equity. To learn more about DOD’s equity efforts, read the summary of the DOD’s Equity Action Plan here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/DoD-EO13985-equity-summary.pdf or the full plan here: https://media.defense.gov/2022/Apr/13/2002976515/-1/-1/0/DOD-EQUITY-ACTION-PLAN.PDF.
DOD’s continued focus is on sustaining our mission while we ensure safe, healthy, and vibrant communities for our neighbors, our Service members, and their families.