Pay disparity between the miltary versus civilian population is a real concern. Military members and their families must move wherever the military sends them; this includes areas that have a high cost of living but the pay changes very little.
Base pay is just that – the base pay that military members earn. This pay is based on rank and years of military service. It can also increase with the annual increase to fight inflation. A representative in the U.S. House is pushing to change the base pay. Representative Mike Garcia recently gave a speech in the House advocating that base pay would increase to a minimum of $31,200, making it an average $15/hour for a 40-hour work week.
Representative Garcia said, “the gap between pay for our troops and their civilian counterparts is at an all-time high. All the while, China has closed the gap against the US in several domains. We need some wins under our belt when it comes to national security and readiness. And the men and women in fancy suits in this chamber and in the chamber just 600 feet north of here, need to do the right thing for those military wearing uniforms. Not in five years or even in one year, but this year.” The speech can be watched on YouTube here.
Do military members work a 40-hour work week? While on deployment, military members can be on call 24/7 – this would mean that pay would not equate to $15/hour. However, military deployment schedules have dropped drastically with the announcement of the end of the War on Terrorism.
Pay for military members does change with Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) with each move. Each year, The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) reviews the rental market around the military bases within the United States. The data is gathered on apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes to determine the cost. The median rent and average utilities are utilized to calculate the BAH. BAH is meant to cover 95% the median cost in a military housing area. This calculation is typically done once a year, although it was done twice in 2022 leading to a temporary increase in BAH. If BAH decreases in an area after the service member moves there, the BAH is protected to remain that amount. If the BAH increases, the BAH will still increase for the military member. However, this BAH protection does not continue with a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), reduction in pay grade or change in dependent status.
Is this increase enough? An E1 in the DOD is typically an 18-year-old individual. These individuals would be potentially working minimum wage jobs, or maybe skilled jobs with higher pay. Raising the base pay to at least the average minimum wage may provide more incentive. However, in certain areas where minimum wage is $20 or higher, there may not be incentive to join the military in the enlisted ranks.
Either way, the military is a force that is always on call, often working more than the 40-hour work week, and appreciation through actual changes and means would be appreciated.
John Henry says
This was a good article, except the statement that say’s “announcement of the end of the War on Terrorism”. The article was an excerpt of a statement made by the President on the withdrawal of troops from the Afghanistan Theater of Operations. There was no such declaration of the end of of the War on Terrorism. As long as there are extremism in the world, we will forever be on the alert and effectively at war with terrorism.