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The Great Benefits Question

If the benefits of joining the military – healthcare, housing allowances, pay raises and a good retirement, for example – were different, would your family still be in?

This is the question that I’ve been chewing over today after reading through an Army Times story (not available online at the moment – will update with a link when it is) by my good friend Rick Maze on potential benefits changes being mulled by the defense world.

While few (if any) of the benefit changes being discussed would impact current troops, future servicemembers could face a variety of different possibilities thanks to budget cuts. These include a “cafeteria plan” that would give future troops the option of “lower basic pay today, with the promise of early and generous retirement benefits. Or, they could choose higher basic pay with reduced or delayed retirement benefits,” Maze writes.

Now, to be clear, anything like this would face a big fight on Capitol Hill and, like I said above and Maze points out, probably wouldn’t impact current servicemembers.

But it did get me thinking about my military life. If the benefits weren’t so dandy and the glow of 20-year retirement at the end of the tunnel weren’t so bright, would I put up long term with the these about this lifestyle that are hard to deal with after awhile … Like deployment, and long TDYs, and all those other things spouses should earn merit badges for?

Truly, it is called “service” for a reason. But that doesn’t mean the benefits our government chooses to give us don’t make it a little more palatable, and, frankly, worth putting up with when things get really, super stressful.

But I ask you: if the benefits weren’t so dandy, would you love this military life (or, at least, try to love it) as much as you do?

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.