And so it Begins: Defense Spending Cuts


This story out of the D.C. area crossed my path in December – pretty innocuous stuff, in a way, except that it was among the first I saw notifying families that activities on base are going to start costing more.

The subtext here is clear: brace yourself, the budget cuts are coming to a base gym, childcare center, commissary, kennel, playground, housing office or recreation site near you.

One of the things I used to struggle with as a reporter was over how to give federal budget drama a face. The powers that be on Capitol Hill yammer on about cutting this and cutting that, and it can be hard know exactly who, if anyone, such things will impact.

But defense cuts are a little different. It’s easy to see how this drama impacts military families and our day-to-day lives. Now, suddenly paying $3 at the gym for a class that was once free probably isn’t going to break the bank once or twice. But if it’s something that you regularly participate in and have never had to budget for personally, it could have an impact. And if things like that start costing more all over the place, you’re going to have to make some choices about what activities you can keep doing and those for which you’ll have to find free alternatives.

I’ve not noticed any price hikes like this one here at the Army’s Fort Campbell – but we are living off post at the moment and I don’t frequent very many of the facilities. Maybe I’ve just missed them. Have you noticed any price increases where you are?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

8 Comments on "And so it Begins: Defense Spending Cuts"

  1. OCONUS, the prices for school lunches have gone up forty or fifty cents each. The COLA has dropped significantly for us in the few months that we've been here.

    That said, I'm a firm believer that it will take all of us – the entire nation – to climb out of the hole we're in. We'll all be feeling the pinch, and I get irritated at those who shake a fist at Capitol Hill and then scream when budget cuts affect the programs that they use. (To be clear, I'm not accusing you of doing that in this article!)

    All in all, I think this military lifestyle is pretty sweet financially, especially when we factor in the costs of healthcare and just a few other perks… and my husband's an E4.

  2. Aside from paying more for prescriptions at off base locations like CVS, I haven't noticed any changes yet. It's just more convenient for us to go somewhere close by and pay a few dollars as opposed to spending just the savings in gas to get to the nearest military medical center. I can certainly say that if the commissaries hike their prices or cease to be the benefit that they are, my family will be in trouble. We've done the math and know exactly how much that little perk really saves us and it makes a significant impact for us. I'd be sad to see that change because it is certainly worth the extra distance to drive there.

  3. jesse caballero | January 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

    The Budget cuts are very necessary for the state our economy is in. All these services being cut will only affect a small part in everyones lives. I am E-5 in the active army based out of Fort Bragg, NC and I am happy the cuts are happening to the military first. These two wars in which I participated in drained the economy and while us service members were benefiting from our untaxed paychecks and combat pay, our fellow Americans were being raped back home. Its time the military stops wasting money left and right and starts cutting its soldiers. We need to help our economy by taking sacrifices.

  4. Jesse,
    Not all military member go overseas and benefit from the untaxed paychecks. Not all services benefit from base housing. If you start cutting soldiers it will add to the unemployment. We all sacrifice by not having our husbands home 8 months out of the year including all major holidays. Moving around every 2-4 years so we haven't had the chance to buy a house and put equality into it. most of the women have had to give up our jobs due to taking boards in different regions. So please don't tell me about sacrifices. I see it in our paychecks twice a month.

  5. FYI …

    In America, people vote for mayors, governors, congressman, senators, and presidents of private and public companies. And they have to make decisions based on laws that were made by the people before them.

    Unemployment compensation pays a maximum of $500 per week, where I'm from. You folks also said welfare is bad. Hmmm..

    And a low increase was a slap in the face.

    You'll be back to your mamma's house before no time, and I'm sure there's something wrong with that too. You go girls!

  6. If you understand how the Government budgeting and spending process works, you will learn he Government will continue to grow…no matter what. It is a beauraucracy that is into empire building.

    Until the fundamental process of budgeting and spending rewards spending reductions, the Government will grow until it collapses upon itself.

  7. I’m reading all these responses, and I’m thinking of Ron Paul. I am in no way a political person, I don’t undstand politics. But if you have the time, visit “Don’t vote for Ron Paul” on Facebook, or YouTube some videos about him. This man has me convinced he can change things, starting with our military.

  8. I'm Vietnam Vet and the military always got a raw deal. All these costs going up on bases is understanding but why so much?
    Without our military America will be no more. The military should be the last to have to pay more for anything.
    There are ways to fun activities on base. AAFES is always bragging how much money they give back to our troops.
    Stop foreign aid to countries that don't even like Americans. That would help out our heros.
    God Bless America

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