Dear Mr. President, 3% Isn't Enough
As the news of another proposed pay increase for military members in 2021 breaks, everyone is jumping for joy. But is this really a reason to celebrate, when the military is still being grossly underpaid for the number of hours they work?
Good intentions aside, the cost of living is skyrocketing and a 3% raise for military members just isn't cutting it. The financial burden being placed on military families is beyond constricting. Most of us are barely getting by without the military adding the extra financial responsibility of PCSing, TDYs, and rising health care costs.
According to FederalPay.org, the military has received consecutive pay raises every year since 2004. This means the administrations of Bush, Obama, and now Trump has all approved raises in military pay. Pay increases are determined by a number of factors. The country's budget deficit, unemployment rate, and other economic statistics help provide insight into the cost of living and what future allowances are needed. However, the military pay increases are no longer offsetting the additional costs families are being forced to incur during their time in service.
PCSing with a large family as a junior enlisted service member can be financially devastating. Traveling cross country in a personal vehicle, staying in lodging, and feeding a large family takes some strategic planning and a lot of prayers. The standard lodging reimbursements aren't sufficient when housing wait lists are exceeding more than half a year. Families are robbed of their valuable goods by moving companies who've lost or damaged their personal belongings and most prized possessions. After filing a claim, movers offer to pay a quarter of the items' true value, leaving families to take out loans to replace basic living essentials like children's beds, military uniforms, or bath towels.
What about those long, unnecessary TDY's, that require access to the internet in a barracks room. Or, when the BAS that gets taken and replaced by separation pay that isn't nearly as much. Thus leading to the slippery slope of financial insecurity. Families juggling bills to cover the service member’s temporary duty is not okay. Our service members are sacrificing life and limb, and now… Their family's well being?
The rising costs of health care have hit military families hard. Especially those families with exceptional medical needs. Traveling to hospitals for treatment more than 2 hours away. Why? Because that's the nearest specialty provider that accepts our Tricare Insurance. Respite care for individuals below level three, cut, vision insurance, cut, network providers cut and we are left feeling confused trying to locate the 3% pay raise that was claimed by big brother.
Did you know that many junior enlisted military families qualify and use Food Stamps and WIC? It's no surprise that food insecurity is a concern within the military community. With all the financial issues affecting our families it's also no surprise many Soldiers are opting to not reenlist.
Is it too much to ask that our service members get paid a livable wage? Furthermore, can we stop cutting much-needed family programs? Oh, and one more thing, releasing the already trained Soldiers only to increase the force a year or two later, isn't helping our readiness and is adding stress to our bottom line. But who cares about decreasing the deficit, right? “House Republicans should support the TWO YEAR BUDGET AGREEMENT which greatly helps our Military and our Vets. I am totally with you!” Trump tweeted in July of 2019. We have the strongest and most focus ready military in the world. If this is the case, why are we allocating billions of dollars to the military and veterans programs, then redirecting those same funds to a border wall? It seems a little laundered if you ask me.