What the 2015 Budget Deal Means for Families

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While solid, on paper details are still emerging about a Defense Department budget deal announced to group of reporters yesterday, we do know enough about the plan to give you a big picture look at what this means for military families. After all, while our spouses are the ones serving, the vast majority of the benefits these bills fund directly impact us.

This plan, the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, will fund the DoD for the next year. It’s also packed with all sorts of juicy requests for studies and nitty gritty rules that we will be getting into over the next few weeks. But for now …

Let’s break it down.

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Do we get a pay raise?

Yes! But instead of the 1.8 percent we’ve had before, it’ll be the 1 percent we’ve, well, also had before but liked less.

A 1 percent pay raise doesn’t really seem like very much when it comes to the number on your actual month-to-month paycheck and, really, it isn’t. For the typical E3, that’s a raise of about $20 a month. For an 03 with eight years in, that’s a raise of about $56 a month. But hey, I’ll take it.

Will we still be getting BAH?

Yes! But it will eventually cover less of your housing costs.The Pentagon asked Congress to cut BAH rates so that they were designed to only cover 95 percent of troops’ housing costs. Congress didn’t take that step, but they did cut them by one percent.

That means when new rates are calculated, the math the DoD uses to get to their final number will include one percent less coverage.

The Defense Department says none of this will impact those who live in on-base housing. That means you won’t suddenly be required to trot down to housing and shell money out of pocket because, technically, the rate covers only 99 percent of housing.

The original plan was to slow the growth over three years. It sounds like all of the 1 percent cut will happen in 2015.

As always, BAH cuts ONLY impact those who are new to an area or, thanks to a promotion, start receiving a new BAH rate. If you live in an area where the BAH rate drops, you will be grandfathered in and continue to receive the old, higher rate.

It’s impossible for me to speculate on what a 1 percent cut will actually look like on any specific BAH rate in 2015 since all rates almost always go up or down each year fueled by economic changes in each individual BAH area. This will probably mean they go up slightly less, or down slightly more. It could mean more rates go down in 2015 than are going up. We will just have to wait and see.

What’s going on with Tricare?

Prescription drug fees are going to go up by $3 at off-base pharmacies, although when that will kick-in is not yet clear (some have reported it will start in January).

If this is an across the board $3 rate raise, it means generic drugs will be $7 instead of $5, brand name will be $20 instead of 17 and non-formulary will be $47 instead of $44.

We are working on checking out the details on this particular measure.

What is NOT going on with Tricare:

The original request from the Pentagon to Congress included some really epic Tricare changes, such as much larger prescription drug fee hikes and a plan to combine all Tricare plans under one roof called “Tricare Consolidated” with a whole new fee structure that particularly hurt retirees. Congress didn’t accept that.

What about the commissaries?

Last year we broke the news that the Pentagon was developing a budget plan that would slash commissary funding and likely result in the closing of some non-rural stores.

But Congress totally rejected that plan. Commissary funding remains safe for now.

12/4 UPDATE: Just kidding! When we got the text of the bill it became clear that while they SAID they didn’t cut it, they actually did by $100 million. Here’s all the information on that.

Here’s the real kicker:

Lawmakers’ decision to not make drastic benefits changes as a part of this funding bill are directly to blame on only one thing: the upcoming Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Committee (MCRMC) report, due in February.

We’ve told about the MCRMC before. These folks have spent quite some time studying current benefits, and they will be presenting to lawmakers their recommendations for cuts.

So instead of making their own decisions, Congress has essentially kicked the cut-can down the road until the experts present their findings in February.

On the one hand, that should make us really happy. Lawmakers aren’t making decisions based on a few measly hearings or the leg work of their staffers. They are letting the real experts have their say.

On the other hand, it should make us feel nervous. Cuts are coming, folks. Just not today.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief 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 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 CNN.com, 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.
  • Sarah

    This comment isn’t budget related but made me think of something I’d like to share. We live where we have to have prescriptions filled off base and instead of paying the copay I enrolled in the mail order program. It’s free for generics, it gets mailed directly to us every 90 days and enrollment can be completed online in about 5 minutes. Just a thought for those who have monthly prescriptions.

    • Cecil Brown

      Mail in through express scripts it’s the best way to go

    • Linda

      I too live in an area where I have to go through Express Scripts to get my meds now. Only thing is they are starting to “no longer carry” certain generic drugs and they do not offer many choices for something to replace them. I have had this happen twice now. Are they just trying to get us to purchase name brands??? My late husband paid with his life for my benefits, and I would appreciate it if those “people on the hill” would just leave us alone. I bet they do not have to worry about any cuts to their benefits.

    • Lawrence Baldon

      What company and site do you use it didn’t show up in your message?

    • agrwife(retired)

      ExpressScripts only works for meds you take on a regular basis. For, say, antibiotics or cough medicine, you have to go to a civilian if you are stationed remotely or retired where there is no base. Those “little” copays can add up. Especially when everyone in the family comes down with bronchitis at the same time.

    • Beverly Cameron

      This only applies IF the medicine is available…. If it’s not you are FORCED to go outside the direct mail to a local pharmacy. Happened to me!

  • timsarmywifey

    well and prescriptions already cost more than what is quoted here …

    • guest

      What’s quoted is monthly, most scripts are written in three month allotments for mail order. For example my birth control costs me 51 bucks if I pick it up at the pharmacy, 17×3 months

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Honestly curious and want to make sure I not only get this stuff right but really understand all there is to this issue — can you give me an example? The current rates are taken directly from Tricare’s current policy.

      • timsarmywifey

        You know what I read it wrong! BLUSH … I read it as you saying they were $3.00 apiece instead of a $3.00 increase and was like ummm nuh uh … lol .. please forgive my hastiness!

        • Amy_Bushatz

          No worries! And so sorry to call you out — totally unintentional. But really, I AM very interested in getting this stuff right, so please always ask!

          • timsarmywifey

            No I’m sorry …. I try to reply sensibly :)

  • Notes From The Backseat

    Our BAH doesn’t cover 95% now, not sure how cutting it is going to help. Some posts, like Ft Campbell, really should have two standards based on whether you love in TN (where the cost of living is higher) or KY (where cost of living is lower) instead of just blanketing the entire area with the lower rates. We have kids with special needs and needed the services and schools Montgomery County provided, but take a hit because our BAH doesn’t cover as much down here as it would in KY.

    • anon

      It was never intended to cover 100% of EVERYONE’S costs, it is intended to cover 100% (or now, 99%) of AVERAGE costs, so some people will be higher and some lower. In the grand scheme, 1% is a pretty big win. DOD is suffering at the hands of Congress and cuts have to be made somewhere. I frankly think military entitlements got off super easy.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      I think it really depends on your pay grade. There was a really interesting article done last year (not by me) breaking down exactly what BAH for each pay grade is intended to cover. I’m trying to dig it up for you. So, for example (and I’m basically making this up for example — I don’t remember specifically what the article said) BAH for an E3 is intended to cover a 2 bedroom condo, not a single family home. So of course it is too low to pay for a single family home. Ill link it if I can find it.

  • Courtney

    I think it’s partly to encourage some who get higher BAH to not spend the whole thing. My husband is an 0-5 and he gets a pretty good-size BAH. 1, because of his rank and 2, because of our location. I know a lot of people in and around his paygrade who rent/buy the biggest house they can up to the full amount–even though they don’t need anywhere near that size and expenditure. Where we are, we found a good-size house (our first time on the economy, we’ve always lived in military housing both government-run and privatized), close to base for a little less than 3/4 of his BAH. Now obviously this won’t work everywhere–some places housing is tight and expensive. But there’s a lot of waste going on as well in the higher pay grades IMO.

    • BAH policy

      In the CONUS, the service member gets his/her entire BAH, regardless of how much their rent or mortgage is. So the fact that you are paying only 3/4 of his BAH to your rent/mortgage means that you are keeping the rest. Good financial decision for your family, but it is certainly not as benevolent as you think.

      • anonymous

        Yeah thanks Courtney, pat yourself on the back much. What a magnanimous gesture for you to keep one quarter of your husbands large BAH. You know what I like, FREEDOM, so living on base doesn’t jive with my lifestyle. I know you don’t have any experience with real estate so let me clue you in. I buy a bigger house than I need so because it is easier to sell.

        Since your up on the cross for all of us maybe you should take that .25 of your husbands BAH and donate it.

    • DAlnB

      hen I was on active duty (Air Force) thee was a program that allowed a member to volunteer for a one year unaccompanied remote area tour. At the end of the one year s/he got tier choice of bases back state side. They would go back to the same base for another three years and again do the remote turn around. They were buying their home using the military housing allowance; at the end of their 20 years they owned the home. There wee at least seven airmen in my squadron doing this so my guess is there were probably dozens doing the same thing; it was legal, it was logical and it was a good deal for the service member. You don’t find many employers who do that for the men and women working for them! .

  • BAH humbug

    Come on, I’ve always paid far less than BAH to live off base, and that’s the norm.

    Our last duty station I saved $700 a month living off base, and at our current I could save around $400 and still live in an amazing neighborhood.

    If these cuts keep more people in uniform, or buy a few more pieces of the best gear money can buy for our deployed forces then bring it on.

    • DAlnB

      Amen my friend; I hear the complain but drive by these homes and look at the cars out front. I was always able to find housing a bit over the adequate level to very nice. I preferred to live on base when possible due to the families, safety and help with any housing problems. I don’t know why we have so many people living off base and are allowing single members to live in family housing! One of the single guys I knew had a pickup, two cars, two motorcycles, a four wheeler and a boat with trailer. I guess he need a place larger than the barracks to keep all his stuff.

  • Steph

    BAH cuts are going to completely suck in our area. My husband is an E-4 and our BAH here is $951 per month. Our rent is $1100. And that’s for a 3 bedroom apartment. We have to pay utilities on top of that. Anything in the area that falls within BAH range is not live able. I couldn’t believe the places I was seeing listed for $850+. Terrible.

    • Kate

      Steph, BAH was not designed to rent a three bedroom apartment for an E-4. E-4’s BAH is calculated at the mid-point between costs for a two bedroom apartment and a two bedroom townhouse.

      Keep in mind that a) you are grandfathered into your current rate, b) this doesn’t necessarily mean cuts anywhere, just that the new rates will be calculated to cover 99% of housing costs instead of 100%. In your situation, that is less than a $10 per month decrease.

      The advent of BAH being calculated on 100% is relatively new, anyway. It’s only been that way since the late 90’s. Prior to that, BAH covered way less (I think it started at 80%?)

      • Steph

        I know that we are grandfathered in. I just feel for the people transferring in next summer, as it was hard to find something as is. Also, because this is a big vacation spot, a lot of the rentals are seasonal. That hurts us too. :(

      • Anonnymous

        How dare she rent a three bedroom apartment in a safe neighborhood. Shame on you Steph. Go to the gulag of on base housing instead of living your 1%er lifestyle. That money is for you and you should get whatever you want and can afford. If you are worried about it being two low motivate your husband to get promoted study with him, get him signed up for a college class or two. I’m pulling for you.

  • Katrina

    Dear BAH HUMBUG
    BAH rates in all locations do not cover all of housing. We just left an area where we lived in a 3 bedroom condo and paid $300 over BAH to live only 30 min from the station I we wanted to pocket money we would have had to live 60 min away.
    It’s wonderful you’ve always saved but that has never been the case in our locations. BAH rates really do effect families.

    • guest

      They only effect familes when you insist each kid HAS to have it’s own bedroom and HAS to be in the best neighborhood. I grew up in a studio for 10 years with my parents, we moved to a 1 bed when my sister was born…

      • A P

        Lol I think we have s troll.

        • guest

          Nope, just tired of people thinking they are entitled to the best house, in the best neighborhood, all on the governments dime. Newsflash but not every member of the family HAS to have their own bedroom, kids CAN share rooms, if you are an E4, you are approved for a 2 bed…if you rent a 3-4 bed house, that’s your problem, not the militarys.

          • slb2269

            Guest, I understand your point. This is in no way disrespectful or trying to be rude – just my opinion…
            Military families are not freeloaders on a government dime. Whether it be one or two family members serving our great nation, they get paid for this – it is a job. In lower ranks E5 and below (all I am familiar with) the “salary” is no where near enough to live on in many areas. BAH is supposed to cover majority of housing costs. If rents are too high, then with utilities even 80% covered could be a far cry from what BAH is actually covering. There will always be some people who take advantage of systems in place. It is no reason to assume that is the case for all. I don’t believe that anyone is trying to get rich or have the best of the best when it comes to how military families live. With that being said, I also don’t think that just because you or your spouse is a member of the military that should throw your family in a lower class with a son and daughter sharing a room (at some point it is not healthy). Nor do I think that because the job comes with some perks, and some hardships, that anyone should carry the attitude of “deal with it, your living on the governments dime”. That is not a fair statement or assumption. Welfare, food stamps, Medicaid may be on the governments dime, because civilians choose not work, or can’t make ends meat. A service member and their families should not ever be in the position where they can’t make ends meat, or that siblings of a different sex should share a room, or that the healthcare in the original contract will change in ways so significant that it becomes a major financial burden. For the most part, we all just want to make sure our families are ok, healthy, and that we can save for retirement, and maybe even travel once a year to go home and visit the family we don’t get to see anymore (other than FB). I have never heard of the “on the governments dime” comment about civilian government employees. In my opinion, we as military families serving our country and family members standing by our soldiers should really start to take a closer look at NOT being the bottom of the totem pole, NOT expected to just deal with losses because we are military, and NOT stand for personal attacks on each other, as we all have our own situations, and they are all different.
            I know you said you lived in a studio for ten years, etc…keep in mind that not everyone has lived that lifestyle and change sometimes comes with a little complaining. As military spouses we should support each other and our unique situations; most civilians could never comprehend the military lifestyle.

          • guest

            You have a paycheck, you KNOW what it is, you know what BAH is, BUDGET for it! Find what fits in your budget and make it work. If you’re not living in something small, and aren’t used to it, maybe it’s time to start.

            We live in one of the highest COL areas in the country, BAH covers our entire 15 year mortgage, utilities, and HOA fees. How? we moved further from post, bought a house much smaller then we could “afford” and not everyone in the family has their own room. We will be hit by this in 2015, it’s not a big deal…at all, frankly I’m happy they aren’t pushing to go back to covering only 80% like they did until the late 90’s

            Up until teenage years it’s totally fine for opposite sex siblings to share a room. Heck, our parents routinely shared rooms through teenage years. If you want more then BAH offers, feel free to get a job, and pay for the difference out of pocket, or to cut back in other areas to pay for it. No one is stopping anyone from getting the house they want in the area they want…it just may require a little work on the spouses part

            BAH is an average, based on a set number of bedrooms for rank. If you have irresponsible family planning, or don’t want to sacrifice something, then do NOT get angry at the government for not providing what you “expect”, find a way to make up the difference. We ALL need to sacrifice, civilian and military to get this deficit under control

          • slb2269

            Guest, I hear you, I do. Just for clarification all of the examples I gave were not for my family. They are other families situations who I have seen struggling and can understand where they are coming from. When families move every few years, we all know spouses have a difficult time finding work other than minimum wage or slightly above, as businesses know you will be relocating again. The fees for childcare would be well above what some could even bring home.
            I will say it again, everyone’s situations and circumstances are different and blanket statements cannot apply as a catch all in these issues.
            From my personal experience, I grew up as the oldest of three with a young single mom, I know what sharing rooms, sacrifice, and not eating feels like. As an adult I left a six figure job at the height of my career to support my new husband in his military career. I was working about 16 hours a day from Mon-Fri and some weekends when proposals needed attention, so getting a job and working is not the problem in my situation. I would be lying if I said there were not major adjustments I have learned to get used to. They are sacrifices I chose to make to support my husband. However, my opinion on this topic as a whole is not coming from a personal emotional place, it is coming from a compassionate place for other military families (whom I know and don’t know) who are in whatever unique situations they are in trying to support their families and barely making it. Budgeting is great, sometimes budgets are tight and these changes can cause some budgets to bust or major household changes to be made at the least. The fear, opinion, and upset of these individuals is just not something I think as a fellow military spouse we should be bashing or speaking down to. Compassion and understanding goes a long way.
            As far as the deficit is concerned, prior to being married into the military and now, the deficit should not be a problem the military has to swallow – EVER! There are way too many extravagant trips, meals, and lifestyles taking advantage of positions on the government dime that need to be cut before someone willing to die for our country should be told they are being penalized for nothing…yet again. I don’t care how it was 5-10-20 years ago. I am referring to the present. What can be managed, and addressed today. It has always bothered me that there are people claiming that military families “expect” from the government, only in the past 6-7 years have I realized it is military (spouses, children) more so than civilians making these comments, and assumptions of one another.
            2013 budget was as follows: Defense and International Security Assistance 19%, Social Security 24%, Medicare/Medicaid/and CHIP 22%, Safety Net Programs 12%, Interest on Debt 6%, Benefits for federal retirees and vets 8%, transportation infrastructure 3%, Education 1%, Science and medical research 2%, non-security international 1%, and all other at 3% . (Data Source: 2013 figures from Office of Management and Budget, FY 2015 Historical Tables) In 2013 the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, nearly $2.8 trillion was financed by federal revenues, the remaining $680 billion was financed by borrowing. There is no doubt this economy is in serious trouble and cuts will have to be made all over the upcoming budget. During this process, I wish that we could support each other, our fears, and hardships without placing judgment on each other…that is all I am saying.

          • guest

            I don’t disagree with “supporting” each other. It’s hard to have faith in military folks when you hear all the complaints…non….stop….about how store X doesn’t offer a military discount, or they didn’t get their free Xmas tree (or even worse, I’ve seen people get them, then sell them), people who FULL well don’t need food stamps/WIC but go for the “free stuff” any way, simply because BAH isn’t taken into account.

            I’m sorry, but I DON’T support those military folk. My husband has just about his 20 in, and the ungratefulness, and complaining I have seen has EXPLODED in the past 5-10 years. Spouses (and some AD like the dude that jumped the fence at Carson the other day, in uniform, to steal Christmas trees and toss them to his wife on the other side) “expect” to be thanked in retirement, they “expect” the military to provide them with everything their hearts desire, they “expect” civilian companies to say thank you and give discounts and freebies.

            It’s time to STOP! Maybe if we all had to work a little harder as spouses, to earn what is given currently as a “thank you for not divorcing your soldier” prize…maybe that sense of bonding and support you are so looking for might come crawling out of the woodwork.

            And like it or not…the deficit IS the militarys problem. If there is no taxpayer money to pay the salary …. do you you think it’s magically going to fall out of a mystical tree? I don’t doubt there are better ways to cut (the whole F-35 thing for one) but lets face it, in the court of public opinion if the military doesn’t take the slightest hit, those people that pay their salaries are going to revolt since most civilians are paying through the nose for health insurance, haven’t seen a raise in years, and have ZERO pension benefits. So yea, the military needs to compromise..

            In regards to spouse employment, I’ve worked for 20 years, at every post, I know many, many, many people that have done the same. If you want something bad enough you find a way to make it happen.

      • jojo613

        Well, aren’t you full of urine and old wine.

  • Jackie

    So I know many are grandfathered in, but what happens at promotion time? If the new rate is lower than the grandfathered rate you were previously getting when you promote up?

  • Kate

    BAH isn’t supposed to cover all of housing. It is supposed to cover a portion of the costs that you choose. If you choose to spend less, it will cover more. Yes, BAH rates affect families, because they change the family’s overall income. It’s up to the family to decide how to spend that income.

  • Stephanie

    I think the BAH effects everyone and every family differently. Rank and location make a huge difference. When I sold my house to go and get a home ready for my new husband and I before he returned from deployment, there was nothing within BAH range other than crime ridden apartment complexes. (They were constantly brojen into/attacks on women in parking lot type of crimes) We moved further from base and still had to pay rent higher than the BAH to be in a safe location. Every experience is unique. We are blessed, I am thankful for everything we have, and as commented above we could have been hit much harder than 1 percent. With that being said, in areas where an average cost of living includes a mass of neighborhoods full of crime…there needs to be an inclusion of that data. It is already available (via police depts) and should be a factor in removing these areas from the “average”. I know when my husband is deployed the last thing he needs to worry about is if his family is ok.

    • Kate

      Actually, unsafe areas are specifically excluded from the BAH calculation. From the DoD’s BAH Primer:

      “We ensure that the units are acceptable, and that they are located in neighborhoods
      where members would typically choose to reside.  We obtain input on suitable housing and
      unacceptable areas from Military Housing Offices (MHOs) and installation leadership.  We also
      use an income screening process to identify appropriate neighborhoods.  We then eliminate
      locations where the typical civilian income is not comparable to members’ incomes.  For
      comparison purposes, civilian salary equivalents are compared to each pay grade’s Regular
      Military Compensation, which consists of basic pay, average BAH, BAS, and the tax advantage
      that comes with BAH and BAS being untaxed.”

      • slb2269

        Apparently, that is not the case in all areas. However, I guess that depends on what each individual considers to be safe.
        “We obtain input on suitable housing and
        unacceptable areas from Military Housing Offices (MHOs) and installation leadership. We also
        use an income screening process to identify appropriate neighborhoods. We then eliminate
        locations where the typical civilian income is not comparable to members’ incomes.”

        From this it seems statement that they remove what they consider unsuitable areas, and then remove areas that most military families could not afford. Every area does not have the option of that happy medium…in some cases you are stuck with either/or. Either unaffordable or living in neighborhoods with high crime. Again, I think everyone in every area has their own unique situations.

  • Stephanie W

    I worry so much over the BAH, We lived with it for 22 years active duty. Right now, being retired, I am on buy name perscription medications, I cannot receive them via the mailing system. I am always watching for changes in what happens in what happens in what hits our families…BAH, perscriptions, Tricare, all of it! Three of my boys are in the military…still watching for myself, as well as them! thanks!

  • Jennifer

    It’s going to hurt us that are forced to live off base. My husband is a recruiter, we are always remotely located. BAH already doesn’t cover enough for housing, let alone the utilities. We are forced to pay out of pocket each month. I’m grateful for Tricare, but we can’t use pharmacies on post either. This is really frustrating.

  • Shannon

    When it comes down to kids having their own rooms. When they are littler it’s not such a big thing. But as they get older and mature in various ways they need their own rooms. Boys and girls especially. I shared a room for way too long with my sister who was seven years older than me. It makes you horribly self conscious. And here where I live. There is nothing that is affordable that isn’t in a run down neighborhood. I’m not even trying to pocket money from BAH (tho it would be nice at least for a bit to help with other bills). I’m just trying to find something adorable for my growing family. I’m not going to make my eight year old son suffer sharing a room with a newborn. Which right now is what’s going to happen however I already have decided that while he’s here, the baby will be in my room with me and my husband. I personally don’t like living on post anymore. I’ve lived on post for two years now. Yes it has it’s perks but overall it’s not the greatest. Especially with how old these houses here. It’s hard to find something livable and affordable and in a safe neighborhood. My husband is already paranoid as it is. I don’t need to add to that by living in an unsafe area…

  • Jessica

    I feel it is a shame that the military is taking any hits when Congress live such nice life styles. In that respect it angers me that any military has to deal with 1% less. How many pay raises does Congress get while everyone else gets screwed?

  • Glynn Ma ddie

    Congress should receive the same pay increase as the military. All of these cuts is a result of putting two wars on the credit card. However, Congress should realize that they are breaking promises made to military personnel made in the past.

    Total Military troop levels are currently in excess of 1 million troops. In World war II, the total force was only 450 thousand; It makes you wonder why we have so many troops despite the advances in technology over the decades.

    The Military needs a sustainable funding program to cover personnel, equipment and benefits without taking benefits from those that have served. Congress take care those that have defended and protected our country. No excuse for benefit cuts to those that have served honorably.

  • Edward M. Soria

    The problem with raising the cost for all aspects of all Military active and retired is that the Pentagon budgets and then spends on projected future strategies that are wasteful. What we need is a cost analysis that counts every dollar will be returned, and will protect America. In other words the Pentagon has to change it’s habits of procurement whether futuristic or present.
    The men and women who serve are nation and are willing to place their life for all Americans don’t deserve to have their budget cuts— speak up.

  • andy

    I’ll keep this short. With all the cuts to military members and almost all of their benefits, I can see a future that if the cuts continue then our military force will shatter. These military members serve to preserve our rights and freedoms. Its the old saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” I urge and plead congress and all of government to seek funds elsewhere. Perhaps congress should look at their own income and freeze all of their raises. I am willing to wager that no one within congress could live as they do now if they were put on a salary equal to that of an mid ranking enlisted military member.

    I urge those who read this to take heed of all comments and choose to speak up for not only our active duty but our reserve and retired heroes as well.

  • As usual Military families are the ones who have to suffer. I cringe thinking about the cuts coming to Tricare and Retirement once the board convenes. Congress doesnt care a bit about what they are doing to the Military because they sit in their fancy homes with all of their money, while being totally out of touch with the people they actually represent. Im tired of our fates being in their hands when most of them know nothing of what its like to be a Military family. Were stationed in Tampa and our BAH is no where near enough to cover everything. We had to live on base because it just became too expensive. But with only 500 houses and 30,000 active duty members stationed here, there are no where near enough houses for everyone. E-6 BAH is $1700 and your lucky to find an apartment for that let alone a townhome. At E-6 rank your supposed to be able to afford a townhome on your BAH, not necessarily a house but at least a townhome. E-5 and below are even worse off. This area is at a minimum $1900+ to rent a small crappy place.

    We arent asking for more money or complaining about what we do have, all we want is for it to NOT be taken away. Why cant you just leave their benefits alone?? No one needs a raise, just for it to stay the same.

  • Rkoon

    I currently work a decently well paying job ($52k/yr) while my husband is an active duty AF member, E-5. We currently live near a base that the BAH is fairly accurate for and we have no difficulties covering our mortgage with it. Our previous base did not fall into the same category. It was Cannon AFB. You either had to live on base and deal with asbestos tile floors, lead paint, and endless cockroaches and spiders or you tried to find a place off base that wouldn’t get broken into and robbed. The local housing allowance rate was no where near sufficient to pay for a place in a safe neighborhood. We’ve been on both sides of the coin. However one thing I will say to anyone who complains that current active duty members and their families need to get over it and learn to live on less, my husband is on his 5th deployment in 6 years. The rate of deployment for current active duty members is unreal. My father retired after 20 years in the AF and he only deployed once, right after 9/11. That is not the case now. I go without my spouse for months on end every single year. I work because I have nothing better to do for the 4-6 months a year that he is gone. However if we were to ever be blessed with kids we would do our best to survive on one income so that I can take care of our kids instead of pawning them off on others. If congress wants to find a place to cut the budget they need to look at themselves and all the freeloaders they so gladly give money to. Not the military members risking their lives for our freedom.

    • DAlnB

      The issue here is the waste of money in the military; I concur with you on the almost theft of Tax Payers money but “do nothing” politicians (do you know that alter being office only 17 months Congressmen and Senators become eligible for a $62,000.00 year retirement; even if they do nothing while in office.)
      We can appreciate our input but make your argument against what the military is doing to us, not what congress the Senate and Obama is doing to us; they are another MAJOR problem! .

  • DAlnB

    I have to wonder why if housing costs are of concern are single enlisted members being allowed to live in family quarters instead of barracks buildings while families are going down town and getting paid. It seems we are spending money foolishly when a single individual is given a three bedroom home and families go down town drawing housing + allowances. Not much different than throwing 3 meals out of six out the back door!

  • Money in my pockets

    My BAH is $3800 and my rent is $2100 for a 4 bedroom/ 4 bathroom townhouse with jacuzzi tubs and state of the art stainless steel appliances in the kitchen

  • damon

    @DALnb – “Housing” as it was back in the day doesn’t exist anymore. It is privatized so you sign a lease like anywhere else. My housing at Fort Knox has fixed rent which isn’t tied to BAH strictly like it was (though it is within 7 bucks at my grade). Therefore for 1400 bucks a month I get 1100 square feet and 1 1/2 baths with my wife and 2 kids. I did it because I have deployed a lot out of this unit so being on post was optimal but on a strictly apples to apples comparison unless you can get newer housing (mine is an 80 year old duplex) your bah will get more off post. Now don’t read this as it being a bad experience…Knox Hills has been good but dollar for dollar the rent on my house is not really competitive.

    Lets be honest. If this were all about being fair we’d do away with BAH and raise everyone’s pay accordingly. I don’t recall from my time in corporate IT single dudes having to live in the company store and give up a grand + a month in pay because they are single.

    I think the frustration with Soldiers is not so much that they feel shorted…it is that on a daily basis they see so much waste all the while being told they are overpaid. Did I really need a 60 million dollar building to work in. IN FREAKING AFGHANISTAN! How many new computers still in the box did I see shredded? That is what frustrates people. Personell expenses are easy for them though since personell don’t have the lobby big defense does and don’t tend to write big checks at campaign time like say General Dynamics and the like.

  • damon

    @DALnb – “Housing” as it was back in the day doesn’t exist anymore. It is privatized so you sign a lease like anywhere else. My housing at Fort Knox has fixed rent which isn’t tied to BAH strictly like it was (though it is within 7 bucks at my grade). Therefore for 1400 bucks a month I get 1100 square feet and 1 1/2 baths with my wife and 2 kids. I did it because I have deployed a lot out of this unit so being on post was optimal but on a strictly apples to apples comparison unless you can get newer housing (mine is an 80 year old duplex) your bah will get more off post. Now don’t read this as it being a bad experience…Knox Hills has been good but dollar for dollar the rent on my house is not really competitive.

    Lets be honest. If this were all about being fair we’d do away with BAH and raise everyone’s pay accordingly. I don’t recall from my time in corporate IT single dudes having to live in the company store and give up a grand + a month in pay because they are single.

    I think the frustration with Soldiers is not so much that they feel shorted…it is that on a daily basis they see so much waste all the while being told they are overpaid. Did I really need a 60 million dollar building to work in. IN FREAKING AFGHANISTAN! How many new computers still in the box did I see shredded? That is what frustrates people. Personell expenses are easy for them though since personell don’t have the lobby big defense does and don’t tend to write big checks at campaign time like say General Dynamics and the like.

    For my career The Army and before that The Navy have been unique organizations. We have moved to a corporate culture which is fine, but you can not expect that old school loyalty. People switch employment for an extra 50 bucks and they don’t show up at 4 AM to run and yell about how happy they are to be there. It has been good to me but frankly I can now make more elsewhere and will have no guilt because I have seen the new “Army INC.” Move to these sorts of decisions as well.

  • damon

    @DALnb – “Housing” as it was back in the day doesn’t exist anymore. It is privatized so you sign a lease like anywhere else. My housing at Fort Knox has fixed rent which isn’t tied to BAH strictly like it was (though it is within 7 bucks at my grade). Therefore for 1400 bucks a month I get 1100 square feet and 1 1/2 baths with my wife and 2 kids. I did it because I have deployed a lot out of this unit so being on post was optimal but on a strictly apples to apples comparison unless you can get newer housing (mine is an 80 year old duplex) your bah will get more off post. Now don’t read this as it being a bad experience…Knox Hills has been good but dollar for dollar the rent on my house is not really competitive.

    Lets be honest. If this were all about being fair we’d do away with BAH and raise everyone’s pay accordingly. I don’t recall from my time in corporate IT single dudes having to live in the company store and give up a grand + a month in pay because they are single.

    I think the frustration with Soldiers is not so much that they feel shorted…it is that on a daily basis they see so much waste all the while being told they are overpaid. Did I really need a 60 million dollar building to work in. IN FREAKING AFGHANISTAN! How many new computers still in the box did I see shredded? That is what frustrates people. Personell expenses are easy for them though since personell don’t have the lobby big defense does and don’t tend to write big checks at campaign time like say General Dynamics and the like.

    For my career The Army and before that The Navy have been unique organizations. We have moved to a corporate culture which is fine, but you can not expect that old school loyalty. People switch employment for an extra 50 bucks and they don’t show up at 4 AM to run and yell about how happy they are to be there. It has been good to me but frankly I can now make more elsewhere and will have no guilt because I have seen the new “Army INC.” Move to these sorts of decisions as well. It is just sad to come to this.