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Thoughts on Service Members and Food Stamps

Taken from an old Facebook post.
The news that the White House is against service members using food assistance programs is INFURIATING.
Why is it ok that military service members are paid so little they even need SNAP or WIC to feed their families IN THE FIRST PLACE? And now you’re trying to take that away?? Why aren’t more people up in arms about this? WHERE IS EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTS THE TROOPS?!
I mean if you expect someone to DIE in Afghanistan in a war that should have been over a decade ago, you should pay them a decent amount of money. It’s the actual least you can do.
I want to address 3 common objections raised whenever we discuss the salary of service members:
1. Allowances like BAS and BAH
Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) is an extra payment each service member is given every month that is theoretically supposed to cover the cost of “subsisting” for the service member (and only the service member). It’s a total joke. Kyle’s BAS is about $254/month and that doesn’t even cover the cost of eating 3 meals a day on the ship. When Kyle is at sea (and charged for every meal he eats on board), we end up paying over $100 out of pocket for his “subsistence.” I can’t speak to how this works in other branches or on the enlisted side, but I am sure it’s much of the same. Sure when he’s home he can take lunch in or whatever, but that’s still money being spent for his “subsistence.” Shouldn’t count against us when the government literally takes it right back in his wardroom dues.
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is an allowance given for the service member to “live,” rent money, if you will. The government admits that BAH isn’t even supposed to cover 100% of rent for the family – the official stance is BAH covers 95% of rent. When average rent in an area is $3000/month for a 3 bedroom house (like San Diego), that 5% is pretty big…so basically the government is expecting the service member to pay over $150 out of pocket for rent every month in high cost of living areas.. Which seems like it’d be hard to do if you can’t even afford to feed your family. This article brings up BAH and makes it look like an E4 with dependents in San Diego makes almost $5000/month, but his BAH is over half of that. So rent is half of his paycheck. And now you see why military families just live in substandard housing provided by the government for the price of their BAH. At least they don’t have to pay out of pocket for rent. (But don’t get too comfortable – government housing still tries to milk you dry with random fees and utility costs, etc. Congress members literally accused my landlord, Lincoln Military Housing, of committing fraud. I mean it’s really a Sophie’s Choice. BUT I DIGRESS.)
2. Bonuses
I don’t know, would you like your bonuses to count against your paycheck? That’s why they’re called bonuses…. And I can’t speak to the other services, but for Naval Officers, like pilots, nukes, and SWOs, bonuses are given because the government knows these people are worth more to the private sector and would make SO MUCH MORE MONEY if they left the service. If anything, it should show you how poorly they are getting paid for what they know and do.
3. Spouses’ employment
This is such a joke. You try maintaining a career when you have to move every 2-4 years to random places you rarely have control over. When we moved to Hawaii, I took a serious pay cut and there was no way I could have afforded child care to keep working. When I got pregnant, I knew I wasn’t going to work. It’s cheaper to stay home and live off one income than get underpaid and pay for childcare. This is an almost universal refrain among spouses. And I am one of the more educated spouses – imagine how difficult this would be for someone without a degree or other higher education.
I keep posting things like this because I really think the average American needs to know what’s going on. Congress doesn’t give a crap, and the White House certainly doesn’t either. Being willing to send troops to war isn’t “pro-military.” Obama wasn’t any better, but this administration wants to act all heroic on behalf of the troops and it’s a complete joke.
If you are spending your time whining about “un-American” athletes who won’t stand for the flag/national anthem or whatever other trivial nonsense has your panties in a twist, you BEST be knocking down the doors of your elected officials until they resolve true injustices against service members.
Support our troops.

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