What US armed forces earn -- and why
Compensation for the men and women who put themselves in harm's way has been rising since 9/11. It's all part of the price of freedom.
As we approach Armed Forces Day this weekend, take a moment to not only thank your friends and family in uniform but to consider their unique way of life.
The old Navy slogan, "it's not just a job, it's an adventure," may still hold true, but at the end of the day, working in the military remains a job -- with its own job culture, pay scales and unique financial aspects.
Military take-home pay can run from around $16,000 annually for someone just entering basic training all the way up to over $200,000 for a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Members of all four military services work with an equivalent pay grade scale -- E-1 to E-9 for enlisted personnel and O-1 to O-10 for officers.
But military salaries are more than just a person's basic and taxable take-home pay. Compensation also includes tax-exempt allowances for things like living quarters as well as benefits for health care and retirement. And Military.com notes there are currently more than 70 different types of pay and allowances in the military system, including factors like flight pay, submarine pay, overseas deployment pay, hostile fire pay and imminent danger pay.
According to George Washington University's Face the Facts project, about one-quarter of the U.S. Defense Department's overall budget -- around $153 billion in fiscal 2012 -- goes toward personnel costs. And two major components of those costs are salaries and allowances, at more than $100 billion, and health care, at over $53 billion. In addition, military retirement costs in 2011 came to $51 billion.
The study also notes that, while the U.S. military's active duty force has grown just 4% since 2000, compensation costs are up 28%.
Clearly, those "perks" can add up. In its fiscal year 2014 budget request released last month, the Department of Defense acknowledged that. The regular military compensation of basic pay, housing, subsistence allowances and tax advantages created an equivalent salary for the average military enlisted member of more than $52,000 in 2011, while the average officer's equivalent salary was around $100,000.
Robert Goldich, a retired military manpower analyst with the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service, notes military salaries have been on the rise since the end of the draft during the Vietnam War, when the four services had problems with retention due to competition from the civilian sector.
Pay has "gone up even more in the past 10 to 12 years, because of the wars we've been in," he says. And since 9/11, Goldich notes, "there's been a sense that you need to be able to attract people to meet requisite force levels for fighting the wars. And there's also been a sense in Congress, because we've been at war, of giving the troops more."
Plus, the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act, which offers some protections for deployed active-duty military personnel, postpones or suspends obligations on financial issues such as credit card debt, mortgage payments or taxes.
Of course, it's impossible to truly compensate military personnel who endure years of sacrifice and who, as part of their profession, put themselves in harm's way. But Goldich says it's a trade-off.
"My son was a combat Marine infantryman with two combat tours in Iraq," he says, "and he wasn't getting paid a huge amount of money, but he was certainly getting paid a lot more than an enlisted infantryman was getting paid during the draft era."
sure beats the $92 a month I got as a draftee.
they deserve every penny and more.
Surely- Johnny-Lipp does not really think that someone gets $16,000 for going through their basic training. That has to be what they would earn in a years time if paid the same rate as someone in basic and is pre-tax and everything else.
Yes they military does get paid more than it did during the draft, and yes they get paid more than whin I enlisted in the USMC in 1975. But lets look on the other side of the coin. While I served my 21 years, I had E-7's or Gunnery Sgt's that could have qualified for food-stamps had they chosen to. Remember that is someone who has chosen to make a career of the military, has spent probably 12 to 15 years or more with their company to keep it in plain terms and still was at the poverty level.
I don't think most of the country wants a return of the draft and you cannot keep or attract the types of men and women we need across the board at minimum wage. They men and women we have today in many ways are far more capable than we were even thirty years ago. See how many people will speak out against higher military pay when we have to reinstitute the draft and yank thousands of hopefully qualified new recruits off the streets and out of their homes. As dave1230 said and I agree: The vast majority are still underpaid, add the responsibilities they have to manage, time separated from their families and trusting their spouses to keep the home fires burning while they are deployed five or six times into combat.
I believe the average Joe or Jane would not want to play by those rules. Yes I loved my time and often wish I had stayed longer. That does not lessen the issues of today's military and what they endure each year. Their situation does not appear to be getting easier any time soon.
Govt., should take care of them after
they completed a honorable discharge
in 20yrs., or injured and retired with service
Politics should stay clear of this
constitutional obligation. "screw"*
I say that all the congressmen and senators that make negative comments about the military and their pay should maybe propose a mandate that all current and future reps and senators complete at least six months of active duty before they will be able to run for office. I think that it would be a way of realizing what we go thru. I am a 1968 Vietnam vet and a proud one. The young soldiers coming back from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan need more assistance than they are getting.
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