Servicemembers and their families are being asked to bear a greater burden with each passing year. The government, both senior Department of Defense officials and their civilian counter-parts, are searching for quick fixes to their budget woes. Unfortunately, those fixes come on the backs of the very people who are volunteering to serve.
First, let’s cut to the heart of the matter. Serving one’s country is not about suffering. It is not about living in abysmal conditions while at home station, or being treated like a second class citizen. It is in fact about training, improving, and making oneself available to deploy in defense of the nation, for all those others who cannot. So, with that said, no one joined to be indigent or to have their family suffer financial inequalities. This is a common misconception that people state, “you volunteered to serve your country, where is your selfless service when you are demanding a pay raise?” This is an inane approach to discussions. Nurses and teachers volunteered to apply for the job in service of their country’s youths, so what right do they have to collectively bargain or ask for a pay raise then?
Secondly, the misconception that “if the military wanted you to have a family they would have issued you one” as an argument for why they should not be considered when discussing benefits. Over the years in the military, I have had to use many things that I was not issued. Servicemembers buy things on the economy, they make do with what the military provides but sometimes there is something better that is available and they go out and get it. A family is the same way.
Since 1984, the military pay raises have generally kept up with the federal civilian pay raises. This is not the same as the civilian pay wages, which have outpaced military pay wage increases in percentages in the last few years. The value of pay increases is that in part it ensures that the cost of the dollar tomorrow matches at least the value of the dollar today. When there is a 1.6% pay raise with a 1.7% increase in inflation as seen in 2012, then the value of the dollar decreases to the employee.
Next on the cutting block was BAH. Starting in 2015, for new soldiers and those PCS’ing, they saw a decrease in their BAH by 1%. This reduction is set to continue each year until it is at 95% of the current local rates, requiring a 5% out of pocket cost. Arguments against BAH in the first place are valid, until it is remembered that the vast majority of the time the service member does not have a choice in where they are moving to. They may be assigned to a high cost duty station where they could not afford to live in the local economy with their pay, but where they may also not be any housing available on base either. This would bankrupt a family for following orders.
Military commissaries were next. Major changes are heading their way with multiple test projects being looked at to privatize the commissary system or to start selling some products for profit. The purpose of the commissary originally was to sell at cost with a 5% mark up for construction and renovations.
All this in the face of an F-35 with an ever-increasing price tag. In 2015 it was still estimated to be $400 billion, more than double the initial estimate with a lifetime cost of maintenance of more than $1 trillion. At some point it is time to identify if the military of the future will be more reliant on a few aircraft, or the ground troops to win the war. Perhaps it is time to start asking those questions now.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.