Our military personnel have a far more arduous (and often FAR more dangerous) job than any civil service position — including police, firefighters, etc. They must be ready to leave their families for months at a time, while living in Spartan conditions. And they are ALWAYS “on call.” It’s a tough job.
But this SAN DIEGO U-T commentary’s poverty claim (see below) for military families is nonsense. It’s a false claim that has circulated for years with little challenge. Our military families don’t get the huge paychecks of our police and firefighters, but they do NOT live in poverty. Not even close.
To start with, this piece is written by a nonprofit CEO who apparently makes his living off this thesis – doling out grants to military personnel after likely taking his cut off the top. Follow the money.
The fact that the CEO profits from getting more money donated for his organization does not IN ITSELF tell us he is dishonest or perhaps sloppy in his advocacy. But this obvious conflict of interest should cause one to be a bit suspect. Too often, people do not look at the economic interests of advocates or opponents to an issue. They should.
This CEO complains that the military BASE PAY (the basic salary) is low, but fails to include the fact that military families get substantial TAX FREE money for housing — or else receive free military housing, period. In San Diego that tax-free Basic Housing Allowance (BHA) with dependents housing payment comes to over $23,000 a year.
In addition, there are other smaller pay categories that are not counted when considering what a military person makes — and whether or not they are eligible for food stamps. A food allowance for the service member is one. Oddly enough, this monthly subsistence allowance (BAS) is higher for enlisted than officers:
Enlisted: $357.55 per month — $4,290.50 a year.
Officers: $246.24 per month — $2,954.88 a year.
Then there’s hostile pay, hazardous duty pay, flight pay, etc. Plus commissary savings (20+% on food), free health care and a pension on the base pay that can kick in after 20 years (A 20 year pension starts earlier than police and firefighters usually get, but is far lower in annual payout than what our public safety employees receive.
It’s okay to argue for more military pay. Personally I don’t think it’s needed, but that’s another separate issue. What bothers me is pretending that our military is mired in poverty — that’s just callous poverty pimping.
U-T SAN DIEGO
Too many military, veteran families struggling financially
By Tony TeravainenNov. 12, 2014
The military family has been part of the fabric of our nation since the Revolutionary War. Since the earliest days of the nation, the service and sacrifice of military members has, by necessity, involved the service and sacrifice of the members of their families. Yet this week as we celebrated Veterans Day, and even as our country continues to make great strides in recognizing the service of our military, a crisis has continued to grow for young active duty and veteran families, a crisis which greatly impacts San Diego.
Bluntly put, younger military families in the lower ranks are continuing to battle to survive financially to meet basic food and other needs. Adm. William Owens summed up the situation succinctly when he was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We cannot expect service members to lay their lives on the line when back home their families have to rely on food stamps to make ends meet,” he said. Stunningly, Adm. Owens made that statement way back in 1994, two decades ago.
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