Military Marriages: For Love or Money?

I recently read an article on our Big Daddy site about Marines perpetuating fraud by entering into sham marriages in order to collect BAH.

Military officials are charging three California-based Marine corporals with fraud and larceny for entering in a pair of sham marriages to collect housing funding, officials said.

The military alleges that a lesbian couple — one a Marine, the other a civilian — decided to live together off base and wanted to collect the $1,200 housing benefit granted to married Marines.

The female Marine found a male Marine willing to get married, allowing them to collect the housing benefit, and the civilian woman also eventually married a Marine and collected funds, 1st Lt. Maureen Dooley, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, said Saturday.

Putting this particular story aside, what struck me as I read the comments, and comments elsewhere on this topic, was that many people alluded to the fact that this is a common occurrence. I’m sure this does happen, and has always happened, but is it really that widespread? There’s no way to know just how often this occurs. I imagine it’s hard to prove most of these cases and I doubt the military wastes already-scarce resources to track whether marriages are entered into simply to collect government funds and other benefits. In this case, I’m not sure how the Marine Corps would be able to prove fraud if, as it states in the story, the couple had not admitted it. After all, no matter the intentions, they were all legally married.

People get married for all sorts of reasons, but I have to wonder if collecting BAH and other benefits are actually worth marrying someone you don’t love or, apparently, live with? It seems to me that this could be a rather complicated undertaking which isn’t worth the trouble. Taking the example above, what happens when one of the two pairs receives PCS orders? What happens when one of the male Marines meets someone they might want to live with or marry? What happens with taxes and accounts and leases and mail and healthcare and ID cards and all the other practical considerations that go into building a life together, real or fake?

Marriage is challenging enough when you enter into it with pure and noble intentions and marry someone you actually want to live with….

Now, what really cracked me up was this little nugget in the comment section:

One of the oldest tricks on the books!. This has been going on since the start of military spouse pay. These are not the only ones and if the military really checked there are thousands upon thousands of shame Marriages in all of the branches.Hey if they checked they could save billions!

I have never received “military spouse pay.” In fact, I wasn’t aware it existed, but I’m owed years and years of back pay. Does anyone know where I go to collect it?

About Andi

Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.


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