Lavish is a Trigger Word, Merely Sustaining is the Reality

servicemen-usOne of the best lines in the movie “Forrest Gump” is the oft repeated “stupid is, as stupid does” and evidence of monumental stupidity is referenced without a doubt in David Wood’s HP article “http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/defense-budget-cuts_n_2584099.html.”

Journalistic integrity aside, it should be deplorable practice to use highly vehement trigger words in a volatile time, when nerves are raw and emotions run high.   But in a world where writers live and die by page hits, comments and reader interaction, the use of provocative labels is about all one has left, right David?  “Lavish” has evoked the response it was intended to simply by noting the vehement responses the article has generated.  It is a shame to note however, how low a once respected and highly educated writer has to stoop to generate copy.   The Huffington Post should be ashamed for publishing such obvious drivel from a journalist with over 40 yrs experience in supposed military operations.  It’s further obvious the talent and integrity that won this writer the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting is not present in this article in any way, shape or form.

David Woods’ antagonistic piece opens with the line “For more than a decade, Congress and the Pentagon have lavished money on the nation’s 1.3 million active-duty troops and their families. Salaries and benefits soared far above civilian compensation, military bases and housing were refurbished, support services like day care, family counseling and on-base college courses were expanded.”

Dude, on what planet do you live?  Veterans and active-duty personnel alike will stand in the proverbial line daily to relate the deplorable conditions found in any and all military facilities and in the operational readiness of situation specific hardware and arms.  In layman’s terms, our forward deployment ability sucks and is getting worse with impending cuts and present suspension of services.

What is “lavish” to one man, is merely sustaining to hundreds of thousands of active-duty military personnel and their families.  Pontification and postulation on the part of the Huffington Post writer aside, lets wander through the ether and do some heavy lifting to get some true facts.

The military has been fairly consistent with the private-sector compensation as noted on Militaryrates.com, “Historically, military pay raises coincided with wage earnings in the private sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ uses the Employment Cost Index (ECI) to adjust military wage increases. But, according to the MOAA (Military Officers Association of America), the gap between military and private-sector wages accumulated from 1972 to 2010 is at minus 2.4 percent.”

Anyone remember the horrific conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center?  How would you have liked to have been flown in from Germany to begin further treatment and recovery at this facility David?  Doesn’t really give you the warm and friendlies does it?

Mr. Wood asserts: “But the data is clear. Since 2001, total military compensation, including pay and benefits, grew by 20.5 percent, while comparable private-sector civilian pay did not increase at all.”

The US Military machine has finally, in the last decade, begun to achieve parity with the civilian world after lacking for almost a century.  Militaryrates.com offers that “In 2003, the Department of Defense and other government agencies introduced the initiative “Forward Compatible Military Pay” to address claims about an outdated and inconsistent military pay system.”  From the Report of the Eleventh Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation:  “Compensation plays an important role in recruiting, retaining, and motivating the men and women in uniform who serve this nation. Without adequate compensation, the nation would be unable to sustain the all-volunteer force, in the size and with the skill sets needed to support the missions called for in the national security strategy. To maintain its viability, members of the all-volunteer force must receive compensation that is competitive with civilian earnings.”  Americanprogress.org further illustrates this,  “To ensure the force attracts and retains high-quality recruits, the Defense Department ties basic military pay to civilian salaries as measured by the Employment Cost Index, ensuring that service members are paid in-line with comparably educated civilian employees.” As a nation we’ve fought two wars in the last decade.  War is expensive in every facet, from front-line operational readiness to retention of qualified personnel.  When unemployment is over 8% nationally and private-sector business generation is stagnant and failing with increasing rapidity, there will be no private-sector civilian pay increases either, so that point of contention is not sound.  Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association, says it best in the very article itself. She defended the increases in pay and benefits by saying, “We’ve been at war. We’ve had to pay for people to be at war.”

David continues with the statement “Currently, the Pentagon pays all housing costs for families who live off base.”  This statement is not factual and can be disproved easily.  Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) are based on time in service, housing costs for the geographical location, and number of dependents and is usually about 19 to 20% out of pocket expense.

Poor David continues to spiral out of control with his statement “Other benefits include shopping at on-base commissaries, which typically save military shoppers about 30 percent on groceries.”

Writer Rod Powers explores the commissary savings myth in an article locate on http://usmilitary.about.com/ “Commissaries operate under guidelines and procedures incorporated into Federal Law. Commissaries must sell their items for the same price they purchase them. A five percent surcharge is added to the purchase to help pay for normal operating costs and facility maintenance and construction … Although most of the commissary “pay-roll” (cashiers, stockers, etc.) comes out of the surcharge, baggers are independent contractors who work solely for tips. It’s customary to tip baggers between $1.00 and $5.00, depending upon the total amount of your purchase … I visited a local Wal Mart “Super Store,” and bought $103.57 worth of groceries. I then made a list of the items I bought and traveled to Patrick AFB (about 90 miles away). At the commissary there, I priced the exact same items. According to DeCA, my commissary bill should have been around $70.00. Had I actually purchased the items, my bill would have been $85.52. Tack on the 5 percent surcharge, and it would have been $89.79. I won’t count the bagger’s tip, as Commissary baggers not only bag your groceries but take them outside and load them into your car. That’s worth every penny of the tip, in my opinion. My total discount would have been 13.3 percent.”  Sorry David, wrong again.

The HP article further states “Base pay and housing allowance boosts the income of an Army master sergeant with 10 years of service, living at Fort Drum, N.Y., to $84,666.48 a year”

According to http://www.militaryfactory.com an army master sergeant with 10 yrs of service would gross $49,122.00 per yr base pay doing some simple math.  Care to show us where it states the remaining 35, 544.48 is made up in housing allowances and tax breaks Mr. Woods?  Can you?

Further research shows the statement “An Army captain with six years of service with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, earns $85,330.80 a year in pay and housing allowance — not counting bonuses, tax-free danger pay for service in a war zone and other benefits.” to be just as ludicrous.  Again, according to http://www.militaryfactory.com an O-3 over 6 would gross $64, 339.20 which is significantly less than the amount the article would lead us to believe.

To all of the brave men and women in harms way, we say “Thank You.”  “Thank you!!”  Thank you for your service and your sacrifice and the sacrifices made by the families who love and support you.  There are still those of us in the world who believe that you will never be compensated justly or wholly for your actions across the globe that allow us to sleep peacefully in our beds at night.

 

Sources:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/gallery/Walter_Reed/

http://www.militaryrates.com/military-pay-archive-article.cfm

http://militarypay.defense.gov/REPORTS/QRMC/11th_QRMC_Main_Report_(290pp)_Linked.pdf

http://www.militaryhub.com/article.cfm?id=167

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2000-01-07/news/0001070228_1_military-family-live-off-base-off-base-housing

http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/joiningup/a/recruiter13.htm

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Comments

  1. Thank you for your rebuttal. As you can see by my picture to the left, my husband is in the Army. He is an Army Infantry Sgt with 7 years in active duty. He has 3 war time tours all together 2 in Iraq and he has just returned home from Afghanistan. Let me break this down for you Mr. Woods…. An Army Sgt with 7 years Active, at Fort Riley, KS earns 2707.50 in Base pay a month. Last year while earning even deployment pay, our EIC $29,852.70. Hmmmm…. That is far off of your claim. Your claim that we live a lavish life is ridiculous. My husband and I both have cars that are at least 10 years old. We live pay check to pay check and we scrap by so that I (his spouse) can get an education. Thanks to FASA. Tell me Mr. Woods, how much would you expect to get paid to be deployed from your family for 2 years out of your 4 year marriage (not including school, training and field problems)? How much would you expect to get paid to eat out of a can for 9 months and to be told that the budget got cut so you can't even have a hot breakfast in the morning because they had to cut one hot meal a day? How much are you worth to walk around Afghanistan with a Mortar system strapped to your back, along with rounds? How much would you expect to paid to only speak to you wife and daughter once a month while deployed? How much are you worth to take a bullet for your country, and know that you died with HONOR? Finally, how much is it worth to your family to have to change their jobs, your children to change their schools and to start a new life every 2 years?

  2. JoAnn Wasson says:

    Thank you for your rebuttal. As you can see by my picture to the left, my husband is in the Army. He is an Army Infantry Sgt with 7 years in active duty. He has 3 war time tours all together 2 in Iraq and he has just returned home from Afghanistan. Let me break this down for you Mr. Woods…. An Army Sgt with 7 years Active, at Fort Riley, KS earns 2707.50 in Base pay a month. Last year while earning even deployment pay, our EIC $29,852.70. Hmmmm…. That is far off of your claim. Your claim that we live a lavish life is ridiculous. My husband and I both have cars that are at least 10 years old. We live pay check to pay check and we scrap by so that I (his spouse) can get an education. Thanks to FASA. Tell me Mr. Woods, how much would you expect to get paid to be deployed from your family for 2 years out of your 4 year marriage (not including school, training and field problems)? How much would you expect to get paid to eat out of a can for 9 months and to be told that the budget got cut so you can’t even have a hot breakfast in the morning because they had to cut one hot meal a day? How much are you worth to walk around Afghanistan with a Mortar system strapped to your back, along with rounds? How much would you expect to paid to only speak to you wife and daughter once a month while deployed? How much are you worth to take a bullet for your country, and know that you died with HONOR? Finally, how much is it worth to your family to have to change their jobs, your children to change their schools and to start a new life every 2 years?

  3. You were a lot more charitable to Wood than I would have been. Of course I didn't post a direct response because I have no intention of letting HuffPo have any of my personal information.

  4. Karen Binniker :) says:

    Thank you for your well-written and well-documented rebuttal! I was born an Air Force brat. My brother is a graduate of West Point. My husband is a Coast Guard officer and I have countless Uncles, cousins and friends who selflessly served and continue to serve our country. Needless to say, we have a family history that is rich with patriotism, pride and service.

    It is sad that we find ourselves in a current crisis of false information that is being spoon fed to a population of people who are almost completely dependent on government assistance. People who have very little interest in reading anything that contradicts what they think is true. People who don’t much care about the other side of the story.

    I will concede that the military does enjoy a different set of benefits than their civilian counterparts, but at a huge cost. Everyone has their own life, career and family demands. The demands of a military family are constant and often underscored because of their “volunteer” status. “They knew what they were getting into when they signed up.” Well, can the same not be said for the civilian employee? Not to mention, most military families aren’t in it for the glory. They are in it to serve their country and contribute to their community.

    I am grateful for your article, your service and your counterpoints to Mr. Wood. You were very gracious in your commentary. You were far more benevolent than I could have been. God Bless you and God Bless America! :)

  5. Fantastically written. I can tell you as a Coast Guard spouse we are almost always stationed where there is no housing and no commissary. We get BAH that rarely covers the cost of a rental and utilities. We are by no means living a lavish life, we scrimp and save but know how lucky we are to have what we do.

  6. Thank you!

  7. Erica Mc says:

    Excellent Rebuttal – these are coming out of the woodwork. I DARE this man – Mr. Wood – to sit in front of an audience of military spouses and defend his answers. I DARE.

  8. Laura Bean Wilson says:

    Active duty AND Retired. Please don't forget about the retired who GAVE their all. It is deplorable the way the retired are treated. More and more are taken away from them at every turn. The only place where a CONTRACT doesn't mean crap is in the Military. Beware all you active duty career servicemen. When you retire, you no longer mean anything to anyone no matter what you gave and how much you defended your country. You are just one more military "has been" the government sees fit to take from to balance the budget or whatever else they need. We wives scraped by to help our service members serve their country for 20 years and we still have to scrape by in our golden years. Deplorable. Simply unspeakable.

    • Ann Foley Droy says:

      Just disgusting….

    • Sadly, retirees and spouses are the forgotten.

    • So what I'm hearing is that people are unable to plan for that? I don't expect the government to support me after my job with them is over.

    • Curtis A DeHart II says:

      You are right in a way because we are the ones that stand for the flag while it passes by and the Active/Res etc. are the ones still carrying it under arms. I am not talking about who is better but the perception of a "Vet" or "Retired".

    • Joseph Basile says:

      Maybe you should have gotten a job, or saved a little bit better. Or your husband could have gotten out and gotten a better paying job. I mean, no one forced him to stay in, right? Just like no one is forcing my wife to stay in. If she (and note I use SHE, not WE, because she’s the one in the Army, not me) decides to stay in for the full 20, we’ll have put a little extra aside, because the pension isn’t going to pay for everything. At least she isn’t dumb enough to believe that her family should be taken care of forever because of a job she did for 20 years out of the 70 or 80 she might live.

    • Laura Bean Wilson says:

      Emily Marie Smith: You don't do what a military person does. Their life isn't their own 24/7 and they protect (ed) YOUR liberties and constitutional rights. It isn't like a normal government job. AND plenty of retirees take on civilian government jobs after retiring from 20 years protecting ungrateful people like you.

  9. With a deep breath and while cringing in waiting for the response. I want to point out that in medical benefits alone (even with some areas being less than stellar) the military has one of the best deals out there. Now before everyone flips out… My husband served was serving in the Navy when he was diagnosed with cancer – he was stage IV and was treated at NNMC in Bethesda – he received incredible care and he is still with me today, thanks be to God and thanks in part to the care he received. BUT we OWE NOTHING to anyone… every cost was covered, all the in-patient stays, all the surgeries, all the expensive chemotherapies and medications – COVERED…. I’ve had 2 preemie babies – NICU stays are NOT cheap, COVERED — one of them, I actually remember seeing bills for which mounted $100,000 — we didn’t pay a dime. My husband was ludicrously declared “fit” by the Navy despite permanent lung and heart damage – however he is now a GS employee… we pay around $500/mo for family coverage – but we also pay co-pays, prescription co-pays (which we’ve stopped doing for some things because frankly it’s cheaper to pay cash at Wal-mart) and a medical device that *I* needed cost us with our coverage close to $2k…
    You also fail to mention that allowances are not taxable – so while only about 50% of military pay is taxable, as a government employee ALL our pay is taxed and we also don’t get the convenience of a home of record which has the potential to also negate state taxes depending on where the HOR is. And of course for anyone paying attention, it won’t be the military, but the government pay that will see a 20% drop until CR is worked out.
    Again, I’m cringing, because I know the response is likely to be scathing, but facts tend to lay some where between perspectives, though I certainly side more favorably with you, Mr. Rossiter and wouldn’t dream of giving Mr. Wood’s article the time of day or the hits he’s so desperately looking for with inflammatory statements.

    • You make some very valid points. While in the military, we never felt our pay and benefits were “lavish”, but since my husband got out a few months ago, we are realizing just how generous they were in comparison to the civilian sector right now. He brings home just over half of what he made as an E6 (with almost 16 years in) plus we have to pay our insurance out of pocket (very similar to the cost you listed). And he has an education.

    • Joseph Basile says:

      Thank you for being the one spouse besides me that seems to understand that the military is a pretty good deal, and better than most.

  10. Rachel Roberts Ehmann says:

    Beautifully written, thank you so much for standing up for my husband and our family!

  11. Eating caviar while my husband sits in the sand says:

    Mr. Woods…. Fly us up there on AF 1 and we can sit down at a five star dinner …,,then you come on back to our duty stations. We will use the laughable budget to train you to go into combat…send you to the most hostile area of the Stan ..,,,, and let you think about the lavish lifestyle YOU are leading there. Please tell us what YOU have done to lead the LAVISH lifestyle you lead. Let’s talk about your retirement payout and then you come on back and then live on a SGTs retirement. People like you are the reason that I feel like we need to fence off Washington and just turned it into a reality TV show. Your living your own little world and the things that you think could make for some prebtrain wreck entertainment. You could come on right after Jersey shore.

  12. I have painted a FACTUAL & accurate portrait of what our lavish military lifestyle looks like on my personal blog. I’m trying to get it noticed since I have put my husband’s LES in it (removing SSN of course! lol). If you should feel moved to read my take on the Huffington Post article click my link & feel free to share with the world! :)
    http://bishopsonetowon.blogspot.kr/2013/03/behold-power-of-google.html

  13. Kana Ng says:

    I definitely appreciate your rebuttal and I think David Woods is a tool…..however, the salaries you quoted him on weren't factually incorrect, stupid and ridiculous (a CSM with 10 years?) but to refute his point we should look at the reality which is civilian counterparts, CSM = Corporate Director of sorts, is it then unusual to see a corporate director making 85k after 10 years with the same company? No.

    • Kana, it wasn’t a CSM, but a MSG (e-8) with 10 years service whose base pay is just under 49K. Adding in BAH and BAS doesn’t even come close to the figures Mr. Wood gave.

  14. Cricket Fiorillo Gray says:

    Thank you SO much for telling people the truth. I can't tell you how infuriating it was to read that sorry excuse for a journalist's article. My husband is currently at the beginning of his fifth deployment in 10.5 years, so my emotions are running in hyper speed already keeping everything together (with four kids) at a new duty station as it was, an then that idiot wrote that complete fabrication of an article. Thank you again for articulately straightening him out. :)

  15. Spousal whining is not helping! As you can see, my wife is in the Army. You realize when he was talking about that captain up at Fort Drum, he wasn't just tallying up gross pay, like you did, but also the housing allowance, right? Which you conveniently left out. You also don't point out the free health club membership for the entire family (that's pretty much what the base gym is these days), free medical care (I don't remember paying a health insurance premium this year), tax free shopping at the PX (is selection the greatest, no, but you dodge the 7.75% Jefferson County sales tax), and quite a few other benefits. That easily adds up to over 85k, and that's a year she didn't deply, and if I do nothing but sit on the couch eating bon bons all day. I know, because my wife was a captain at Fort Drum.

    I was enlisted Marine Corps myself, and was pay fantastic? No. But, at the same time, I challenge anyone to show me a comparable job (this goes particularly for the enlisted) in the civilian world that will take an 18-19 year old kid with no real skill set or experience, pay to train them, feed them, give them work clothes, full health insurance for them and their family, provide a place to live or money towards an apartment, or any of the other benefits that military personnel enjoy. I'll wait, please, please show me that job.

    Let's throw out a scenario. We'll take our hypothetical 18 year old, let's call him John Shmuckatelli, whose only demonstrated skill set is his ability to eek out a "B" average at high school, while knocking up his girlfriend, we'll call her Suzi, in about February of senior year. Since McDonald's pay is running right about minimum wage, with little to no insurance, he walks into his recruiter's office and signs on the dotted line. John was smart enough to realize that hiking around with a pack on his back is not a marketable skill set when he gets out, so he decides to become a 91B, a heavy vehicle mechanic. Now, he has no skill at this whatsoever, except for the fact that he once changed the tire on his mom's van. The Army sends him to basic training then MOS school (all of which they pay for, and pay him to attend, see if the local auto repair shop will do that for you). Since Pvt. Shmuckatelli married Suzi R. before he shipped out, she's on Tricare, and getting her doctor's bills paid (again, see if Ed's Cheep Auto Repairs will provide full insurance for you and your family) while living with Mom and Dad while Johnny is off at his "boot camp" (sorry, any Marine is required to put other service's "boot camps" in quotes) and his MOS school. Now, John has been assigned to Fort Drum. He's been in the Army right about 6 months, and is making $1,516 a month, gross. But, he's just about up for his promotion to E-2, which brings him up to $1700. Since the on base wait list is annoyingly long, PV2 Shmuckatelli and little Suzi decide to live out in town. He's now given, tax free, a payment of $1,266 dollars per month to do that. It took 2 minutes with google to find several apartments and townhouses that take a family of two, making less than $43,000 a year, and will rent them a 2 bedroom place for right around $900 a month. Paying utilities up there NEVER cost us $300 a month, and we had a 3 bedroom house with terrible insulation. Show me any other organization that will do that for one of their most junior employees.

    Oh, and I was a military dependent in the 70's-90s (my dad was career Army) and did 4 of my years on active duty pre-9/11. Compared to what the military was then (particularly during the "peace" years of the 90's) this is pretty lavish. The whole country is being asked to tighten it's belt, military people, PARTICULARLY spouses, might want to learn to be grateful for what they have, and realize that its a hell of a lot better than many, many people around this country, and far more stable. There's some fat to be trimmed from the military budget, and rather than look like whining children, spouses need to learn to accept that as the deployment cycles wind down, the American public is going to be a lot less happy to finance a lot of our benefits. It's the way it was before Iraq/Afghanistan, and we were in a fairly boom economy. Grow up, and look at things from the perspective, not as the person who is losing their goodies, but as the person who is footing the bill.

    • I challenge anyone to show me a comparable job (this goes particularly for the enlisted) in the civilian world that will take an 18-19 year old kid with no real skill set or experience, pay to train them, feed them, give them work clothes, full health insurance for them and their family, provide a place to live or money towards an apartment, or any of the other benefits that military personnel enjoy. I’ll wait, please, please show me that job.”

      now I challenge you this, show me a job where 18 year old private Shmuckatelli, has to sit in the desert, walk past IED’s and miss what could be countless important miles stones of his babies life? Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays such as Christmas…

      So please tell me THAT comparable job…

      • Joseph Basile says:

        I won’t, because there isn’t one. If he didn’t want to do it though, why did he? I don’t remember hearing about a draft, the last time I checked, we were an all volunteer force. It isn’t hard to Google search pay scales and housing allowances. If the money isn’t enough for you, please, do something else, clearly, it was for Shmuckatelli, he chose to do it. I did as well. However, I also was smart enough to realize that you shouldn’t try to raise a family on E-2 pay either.

    • Heather Novak says:

      I can tell as an Army spouse with 15 yrs in, and as a military brat myself that my issue is not with the benefits being reduced (although that of course sucks.) The issue is with the article that she is rebutting and it's inaccuracies. I can't speak for Fort Drum having not been assigned there. However, here at Fort Lost in the Woods the BAH barely covers rent out in town because the rents are inflated. When we were assigned to Fort Lewis the BAH did not cover the rent for a dive in the worst area of town… I appreciate my military benefits and realize that I pay for them with my taxes just like everyone else does. The issue is the tone of the original article and the fact that it, just like so many other articles, presents an unrealistic view of the military. You forgot to mention that your little E-2 would make so little that he and his spouse would qualify for Food Stamps and WIC. You also forge the fact that if he wasn't in the military taxes would still be paying for that baby because they would qualify for welfare and government aid which would pay for every dime of the childbirth and require NOTHING in return.

      • Joseph Basile says:

        I think it’s almost criminally stupid to try to raise a family on E-2 pay. I remember when I first enlisted that the then Commandant of the Marine Corps General Krulak tried very hard to get a regulation passed saying that junior enlisted couldn’t be married, because of the expense and trouble those marriages were. He was shot down, but it made sense. He was tired of seeing his junior enlisted on food stamps and in crappy housing. He was also tired of watching an E-2 with a wife and kid cost the military twice as much as one who lived in the barracks, while being less useful, and more problems.

        He’s on WIC and food stamps because they’re trying to raise a kid on a paycheck that was designed to keep a single guy in barracks full up on porn, beer, and XBox games.

    • It's pretty lavish for an 18-19 year old who showed up with no real skills and got the training for free. And for every person on here whining about how they're driving 10 year old cars (I drive one myself) you see the E-3 driving the 2012 Charger, or the Escalade with "Army Wife" stickers slapped all over it. And remember, my little E-2 had a wife who did nothing but churn out kids. Quite a few of them work, which adds to the pot. I get really tired of spouses complaining about how tough it is when in reality, it's pretty darn good, and people on the outside have it a hell of a lot harder.

    • Laura Bean Wilson says:

      Bull! We have earned the right to say what we think, mister. WE raised those children that were "churned out" ( the men don't have immunity from that) at least 80% of the time because of deployments, training etc… That "free" medical care you speak so blithely of is sometimes substandard, outsourced and paid for! Things are not what they seem on the outside looking in. We retirees PAY for our medical care now. That was a change from the original contact. In the military, a contract isn't what it is on the outside. It can be changed at the whim of congress and senate and you can't sue!! Just try negating a contract on the outside and see what happens. Quite a few of the working spouses HAVE to work to make ends meet. That housing allowance is negated in the service member's pay. Nothing that the service member gets is not negated in some way. You forgot to add that into your calculations. Just like someone who has separate rations has them taken away when they go to the field, the service members' family depends on that income! We don't get nearly what the private sector gets in pay and those "perks" you are so fond of expounding on aren't PERKS. They are RIGHTS for the service member putting their life on the line for people like YOU. Join the military and see how much you think it is a walk in the park.

    • You didn't read my post at all did you? I WAS in the military. I was medically discharged after 2 years from my commissioning program after doing 5 years on active duty in the Marine Corps, or I'd STILL be in the military. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that YOU never served a day in your life, but wore your husband's rank with pride. How is the housing allowance negated in the service member's pay? Hell, I'd rather get the allowance than more pay because the allowance is non-taxable, rather than have them call it an increase in pay, which is. And when separate rations are "taken away" while the solider or Marine is in the field? THAT'S WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN!!! It's not there to feed his family, that money is basically the money that the Army or Corps would have to lay out to feed this person at the chow hall. When they go to the field, and the military is paying to feed them, giving them money would be double dipping. As for things like the gym and commissary? Again, that's for service members. The fact that retirees, spouses, ect… are allowed to use them is a PRIVILEGE, because they have the space available. I signed a contract with the Marines, twice, and I don't recall anywhere it saying I would get free health care for life, or PX privileges forever and ever. Maybe I missed that part, but I'm pretty sure I read it carefully. I never said it was a walk in the park, I just pointed out that it's a pretty good deal for an 18-19 year old kid.

    • Mr. Basile, as you well know, those 18-19 yr. olds do a hell of a lot more than a fast food worker, and if they are "rolling the caddies" then you must surely have the Rolls Royce, right? And don't get me started on the whole child rearing….you can throw your kids wherever you like and spend most of a paycheck to do it….as for me, I chose to take care of mine.My 20 year experience with the military was the best of my life, and yes, I felt security. But in no way was it lavish….loosing "goodies"…speak to me when what your wife was promised is taken away.

    • Laura Bean Wilson says:

      I have never worn my husbands rank. You don't know me either so why do you assume so much?

      Yes, it is a pretty good deal for an 18 year old with no family and no plans.

      Not so much for a soldier with a family.

      I know that separate rats are taken away because that is what is supposed to happen!! But it doesn't make the folks at home miss it any less when it is gone. I don't know anyone who had the luxury of saving that portion of the pay during the time at home so when the soldier went to training, you wouldn't miss it. Things were always too tight to do that. Fully 80% of all we knew while serving in Hawaii were on Food stamps.

      The last thing I have to say is that most men who serve in the military learn to be gentlemen. You didn't.

    • Amy Jentoft Hussar says:

      That's probably why so many lower enlisted have serious credit problems …

    • Thank you.

    • Boy, you women are really slamming my son. He's pretty blunt but if you honestly look at how well you have, or had it, in the military compared to civilians doing the same job, not hours/weeks/months away from home, but the same job, it's a pretty good gig. My wife worked as soon as the kids were old enough for school. That helped immensly. When I was a basic training commander I was always amazed when a soldier came in with a family. The military is a starting job, kind of like McDonalds, and is not meant to support a family comfortably. Before someone joins they should think of that and prepare accordingly. Careers in the military were never meant to be lavish, that's why the retirement benefits were so good. You put in your time and you're taken care of. The military is totally voluntary. The country owes us nothing,unless we are wounded, but it understands that it is just right to take care of their veterans. The problem is politicians try to convince the vets they are victims and it makes me sick.

    • David Hathcock says:

      Joe, you have summed it up nicely. The real problem is the entitlement mentality. Having been a single soldier and Marine and later having been married and had children while in service. I do not think I would call the healthcare substandard. My twin daughters were born at Ft Lewis, and after spending about 3 weeks in the NICU Neonatal Intensive Care Unit the net cost to our family was $0. I have had surgeries both in service and out of service and my stays at Madigan and other Military Facilities has always been superior. Additionally I never paid a copay or had deductibles to be concerned with. . The problem with most of the people who complain have never worked a day in the world out side of the military system. They are just unaware of what it is like on the outside. I have lived on Base and in town. Even with the small annoyances I would live on base again….I would take the NEW house on FT. Lewis over the 1920s colonial that is in need of constant attention in Bristol, and I do not care what people say. My standard of living was higher as a E-5 Sgt with 2 young children than it is as a Well Paid Civillian. My salary is higher but gone are the allowances, I am expected to pay for my own home and not given an allowance for it. I am required to commute to a job where I pay for my insurance benefits. With constant outsourcing and downsizing many of us outside the military are in fear of losing our jobs. While military life is not perfect it is better than many are facing in the rest of the country…. As far as dependents being entitled to anything They are entitled to the same things anyone else is. To either Suck it up, or to go out and get a job and contribute…the same thing other families in the country do. You weren't drafted, your spouse was not forced to serve. IF it is so much better on the other side, do not let them reenlist…have them look for a job in the outside world and live life on this side of the fence where you would either get a job or end up on GOVT assistance. And when your spouses employer cuts benefits. You have little or no recourse. Come live here where in most cases both adults work kids or not and day care bills are just part of life. Stop the whining, suck it up and move out

    • Joe, the point your are missing it that the way the main article skews things to make them look one way when it is not really that way at all. My point is that this Eric's reply to it is that we are now on par with our civilian counter parts. As to your other comments really its not like they get paid XX number of dollars more for each dependent they have they have a flat rate with or with out dependents.. Oh and by the way the bit about the Spouces working they have to just to make ends meat. It sad when you have E-6's who still qualify for WIC (military version of food stamps) because they do not make enough to support there family.

  16. Sandy Littlejohn Berry says:

    Thank you!!!

  17. Amy Jentoft Hussar says:

    Show me an Army master sergeant who has only 10 years of service.

  18. Maria Mogg says:

    My husband has been in the Army for 30 years! I’ve never seen “lavish” by any means!!!!! WTF, all the catch up has been a LONG time coming. The people that are new to the Army, and by that I mean in the last 10 years. They are lucky to have had the extra funds available to fix up the shit holes that we lived in all those years ago!!! I came in the army in 1984!!! Many of todays soldiers were not even born them!! Its great for me to see that they are getting at least decent housing and programs to help their families! All these stupid journalists speaking about stuff they know nothing about! Come talk to me about LAVISH!!!!!

  19. Your math is wrong. An E8 at Fort Drum with 10 years experience will take home $74,661 annually counting Base Pay, BAH and BAS.

    I’ve been an Army wife for the last 12 years and I will be the first one to tell you that there are massive cuts that can and probably should be made to the defense budget. But it needs to be done to defense contractors who charge exorbitant amounts of money for things the military should be doing for itself. NOT to the benefits and pay of soldiers who literally sacrifice life and limb. Then again, we stopped being a representative republic years ago.

  20. Thank you! Yes, our lifestyle is so lavish we (and all lower enlisted) qualify for WIC…

  21. Jennifer Yankus Bonnell says:

    What an idiot. He has no idea.

  22. Thank you, Sir, for your well written, and factual, follow up. I cannot tell you how disheartened I was with D. Woods "fairy tale" story as the spouse of a retired Navy Chief. This administration is already trying to take benefits, armament, training, etc…and now their pride. These are the same men and women everyone will look to, and hide behind, when anyone threatens the U.S.
    P.S. In the picture we are at my husbands retirement/ Navy Ball combo party…my dress was from the thrift store and my jewelry from Walmart….but I couldn't have been prouder than if I had a million dollars.
    Thank you again, Very Sincerely.

  23. Thank you, Sir, for your well written, and factual, follow up. I cannot tell you how disheartened I was with D. Woods "fairy tale" story as the spouse of a retired Navy Chief. This administration is already trying to take benefits, armament, training, etc…and now their pride. These are the same men and women everyone will look to, and hide behind, when anyone threatens the U.S.
    P.S. In the picture we are at my husbands retirement/ Navy Ball combo party…my dress was from the thrift store and my jewelry from Walmart….but I couldn't have been prouder than if I had a million dollars.
    Thank you again, Very Sincerely.

  24. Folks – go to facebook and look for “lavish military benefits” — post a picture of your favorite dump — show people or they will never understand the truth!!

  25. Ronny Ross says:

    Thank you for writing such an excellent rebuttal.

  26. Kimberly says:

    Thank you.

  27. Wow, I can see both sides of the coin and understand why this is such a sensitive topic. Now before some of you pick apart my argument to benefit your own, here are my credentials: Air Force Active Duty E-5 mother married to another AF AD E-5 member. Served for about 8 years now.
    Now with that said, let me begin.
    When I had the first inkling that I wanted to join the military. My older brother (E-6, Marines) asked me what my reason was. I gave the typical answer. Free school, travel opportunities, security. He said, “Nope, why are you joining?” After about five minutes of not giving him the answer he was looking for, he replied, “Do not join unless you have the desire to serve your country. That comes first.” Now some of you might disagree but I understand why he said that. That is the job we sign the dotted line for, that is what we get paid to do knowing that it will be challenging and potentially life threatening. Upon signing we were well aware that we would be pulled from our family on a moments notice and do what’s asked of us without question. (unless unlawful of course) We are groomed to serve. That’s the mentality we need to do what we do, otherwise we wouldn’t be the greatest Armed Forces in the world. Sergeant originates from the latin word serviens, meaning to serve.
    Which brings me to my point… when did our culture become so entitled? Yes, what we do can be difficult at times. Yes, we put our lives on the line. Is our salary/benefits lavish? I don’t think so. But are they enough to live on and could we survive with a few cutbacks? Absolutely. My husband and I CHOSE to develop budgets, savings plan, took advantage of free schooling, etc. (It is possible) If worse comes to worse, we will figure out how to make due with what we have, pay for schooling while raising a family if that’s what’s needed. (by the way, as they say here, “children weren’t government issued to you.” It’s a choice to have kids.) That is called resiliency and is a skill that for some reason our country is forgetting about. Another skill that we seem to be forgetting is critical thinking. I understand we all have different opinions on this issue. Could the budget cuts be directed at other aspects other than military spending? Probably. Are military better off right now than some of those in the civilian sector. Probably. But the reality is… these are the cards we have been dealt. Instead of trying to figure out who’s right, wouldn’t it be more productive to find potential solutions, compromise if need be so we can get this country back on track? Or is that beyond our abilities? It’s easy to point out a problem, it requires a bit more effort to find a viable solution. There was a time in this country when we were able to do more with less. It is possible.

  28. Curtis A DeHart II says:

    Here is a compared document of the original and old.
    http://social.dzsoundnirvana.com/news/WASHINGTON_compared.pdf

  29. Mary Wagner says:

    Interestingly, the wording of the article and its headline, have been changed, now stating that Congress has "spent" money. Well, duh. But how very 1984 of them! As my sister said, "We have always been at war with restarea. And the author has always believed the military deserves their pay."

  30. Erica Tate says:

    Thank you so much for this very informed rebuttal! I choked on my water when I read what they thought O-3s make for a living. That would be extremely nice if we made that much, but it simply is not the case. My husband laughed also at this, being that he is a captain earning the wages. Also, it’s not as if we live in some fancy house on post. We live in a 1200 square foot 3 bedroom/2bathroom duplex probably constructed in the early 1990s. If we lived off post, be would be paying for utilities out of pocket and probably a couple hundred dollars over our BAH for the same sized house in a safe neighborhood. I think Mr. Woods has been sorely misinformed, or he’s just plain making things up to stir the pot! Again thank you again for defending us and our supposed “lavish” livestyle, according to Mr Woods.

    • Joseph Basile says:

      I have to ask, where is he wrong? He said they made $85,330 per year if an O-3 had 6 years in living at Fort Drum. Here, I’ll do the math for you.

      O-3 6 years – $5,362 per month, base pay. Times 12 months – $64,344.
      O-3, BAH for Fort Drum, Watertown NY Area – $1839 per month. Times 12 months – $22,068.

      And $64,344 plus $22,068 equals… $86,412. Hell he actually shorted us over $1000, I’m guessing he used 2012 rates, rather than 2013. And it’s even better than it looks, because they only TAX the $64,344, since the BAH is untaxed and doesn’t count as income. Plus the fact that we don’t have to pay insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and you have an employer based pension where you don’t have to pay in.

      If your husband ISN’T making that as a Captain stationed at Fort Drum, he should go run by the S-1 or Finance, because somewhere along the line, he’s getting the wrong pay.

  31. Dana Hanratty-Clay says:

    If we are living such a lavish lifestyle, why are so many military families eligible for food stamps and WIC? My first year of teaching, my husband was deployed and getting the max pay for an E4. When I sat down to do our taxes, I was appalled that I made almost double what he did. He gets shot at for a living. Lavish=KMA. Oh and if you live in on post housing and it is privatized, you don't even see your BAH. The housing is privatized bc of complaints from families for things like toxic mold, crumbling drywall and insect problems.

    • Joseph Basile says:

      Because junior enlisted are trying to raise a family on a paycheck that was never designed to support that. E-1 through E-4 is entry level. It’s the rank you are supposed to have/obtain when first starting out, with no skill set. The theory behind it is that these are SUPPOSED to be single folks living in barracks, eating at the chow hall, and getting a fairly small paycheck in return for schooling, job security, and experience. You aren’t supposed to raise a family on it, the same way you’re not supposed to be trying to raise a family of 4 on a minimum wage cash register job at Wal-Mart. I keep saying, show me the company that will take an 18 year old kid with a high school diploma and no experience, give them paid training, full health benefits with no premiums, deductibles, or co-pays (while extending those benefits to their families), either give them a house or provide them with money to pay for one if one isn’t available. Oh, and after a few years, will let them quit, and then provide them with the money to pay for a college degree. Please, tell me of this organization that does more than the military to support it’s staff like that.

  32. Thank you so much for defending out military men and women! It is absolutely deplorable what Mr. Wood wrote! And you have an excellent rebuttal! Anyone who is anybody should boycott anything Mr. Wood writes from now until he is dead. What a waste of a human being!

  33. Teresa Minzey Hunter says:

    AMEN and Thank you for setting this WRONG headed person and everyone else who believed the out right lies Straight God Bless

  34. Stephanie MacDowell says:

    I'm the wife of a captain and I can say that you are accurate. I'm also glad that you made it clear that though we might receive housing benefits, you must "live" in those parameters if you don't want to pay more-kind of hard depending on where you live. Also, the commissary! Living overseas, I found we pay way more than stateside due to shipping and we do not have choices such as non-name brand. As with everything there are pros and cons. As far as medical, you can not choose your doctors and I miss that as I'm sort of picky. Also, they are there to serve the active duty and if they have no room for family, we get to go to doctors on the economy (country we're in). Talk about language barriers. While I'm thankful for many of the benefits we do receive, there are drawbacks. The bottom line is I made the choice to be a military spouse and I'm proud to serve my country along with my husband.

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