An Open Letter to Military Benefits Haters

rows of $100 bills

This post was originally published June 6, 2013. And although the articles it addresses are now two years old, attacks on military benefits continue and the open letter is still as pertinent today as it was then. 

Dear Military Benefits Haters  —

We’ve been having a rough go of it lately, haven’t we?  There you are, a civilian, absolutely convinced that the average servicemember is not worth his weight in pay and benefits.  And here I am, a military family member wondering how we got to this point – and why you are so misdirected about the value of the military.

I think the problem may be that you are confused. You’re there, sitting on your civilian sofa in your civilian house in the town of your choice after coming home from your civilian 9-5 job. You are feeling a little annoyed by the crazy awesome salaries that servicemembers and military retirees score because, in comparison, yours aren’t that amazing. And hey! Your taxes are paying for us to have this fabulous stuff! You are incensed by the very existence of commissaries which, you gleefully note in news articles like this one,  is supported by tax payers all so that military folks can have access to “15 types of ketchup” at Lejeune. You think they should close.

And over here, you proclaim our benefits – the things we get in exchange for the willingness to die for America – as lavish.

It isn’t so much the idea of shutting the commissaries that bothers me. While they do seem like a vital part of life overseas, stateside the argument that they are superfluous at most bases doesn’t seem that farfetched. In most cases, as the author of this peachy story notes, there really are other options. Same thing goes for fitness centers and recreation on bases around the country.

Don’t get me wrong – I love that stuff and I use it all regularly. But I could live without it just fine. If it comes down to bullets or bagels, I’d go with the bullets any day.

What bothers me about these and other stories and columns like them is your tone.

Servicemembers, retirees and their families, the tone says, are acting like privileged brats for expecting, accepting and clinging to the benefits which encourage them to stay military or even to join in the first place.

In fact, the tone says, it is a waste of tax payer money to meet military personnel needs or even give nice-to-haves in exchange for keeping them around.

Servicemembers are overpaid, coddled low-skill workers who should not be given compensation for the inconveniences of military life, but who should still be expected to do their jobs anyway.

It’s a tone that says if you had to join the military to make it through life you are, logically, a substandard American worker and you do not warrant compensation in excess or even equal to the civilian market. Civilians are people who have choices and didn’t take the easy out of Uncle Sam. Military are people who are living off the tax payer.

The tone is supported by the flinging of inaccurate statistics to support your claims or, worse, the promotion of sweeping generalities about who servicemembers are and what they deserve.

Bad Statistics and Comparisons

Here’s this gem from the Post’s story:

“Over the past decade, military salaries have grown at a faster rate than those of civilian workers. The average enlisted soldier now earns more than 90 percent of Americans who have less than two years of college. Most Army captains – the third-most-junior rank of officer – will take home more than $90,000 this year.”

I’m going to disregard that ridiculous first sentence that ignores the fact that we also, over the past decade, have been paid for deployment after deployment and all the tolls of war. Let’s just focus on the compensation “facts.”

Only one in five Americans is even in good enough physical shape to join the Army. That means that to be the “average enlisted soldier” the author talks about, a recruit already had to do something most Americans can’t – be fit. A whole other group of Americans is ineligible because they didn’t graduate high school or because they have a criminal record. He also had to be willing to join the military at all, which puts him in a group with less than one percent of Americans.

After he joins that soldier then holds a more than full time job, often over 80 hours a week, for which he must continue to meet requirements such as staying fit and felony free. He very likely does an intricate task that no average American with less than two years of college could do without months of dedication and training. He probably has also spent more than nine full months multiple times away from his family working around the clock where he put his life on the line and accepted the continuing burdens of war as part of the gig. He’s likely to have held this same job for around five or six years.

Why is it unreasonable that this soldier make more than 90 percent of Americans who have less than two years of college? And how is that a good group of people to compare him to at all?

And then there is his statement about Army captains and what I can only assume must be a gross misuse of the term “take home,” which is generally accepted to mean “income after taxes.”

Army officers – or any officers, for that matter – are compensated at a higher rate based on education and responsibility, at least in theory. While a captain may make “more than $90,000” before taxes in a very high housing allowance area such as D.C., the average captain certainly does not. A little math reveals that a captain with seven years of Army experience living in San Antonio, Texas with dependents, for example, makes about $86,000 before taxes. But a breakdown of average hours worked by our case study during a year in which he does not deploy shows that he earns around $25 an hour.

And no matter how you shake it out, none of these examples are “more than $90,000” after taxes.

 In 2010 the average male graduate just out of college earned about $22 an hour. After graduating college and spending seven years on the job with countless additional months in training, an Army captain is making about $25 an hour for putting his life on the line, being willing to live wherever the Army sends him and leave his family for months at a time. He also has met all the qualifications of the “average enlisted soldier” that made that person valuable including, again, an interest in joining to start with.

Are high personnel costs really a problem?

As America rolled into sequestration and other budget cuts, DoD leaders decried the high cost of personnel. After all, they said, supporting current and former military members takes up a third of the DoD 2013 budget.  And with the DoD budget as a whole taking up the biggest “single slice of the federal budget at Social Security,” something surely must be done.

But what they fail to note is that personnel costs really aren’t that ridiculous when compared to the normal market. As the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) points out, in civilian companies with big air fleets (the closest they could get to a military comparison), personnel costs hover at similar levels.

For the United Parcel Service, for example, personnel costs make up 61 percent of the budget. For FedEx, it’s 43 percent. For Southwest Airlines – generally recognized as among the most cost-efficient air carriers – personnel costs comprise 31 percent of operating revenue (which includes profit, so the percentage of expenditures is higher).

The idea that the Defense Budget is so out of control is also misleading, particularly when you look to past trends. This MOAA graph shows that it hovers below 20 percent – whereas in 1962 it was closer to 50 percent.

If it’s so great, where are you?

But here’s the thing that really gets me.

If the pay and benefits for members of the American military are so lavish and such a steal of a deal, where are you, Benefits Hater?

Because that’s the thing that’s so great about the American military. You don’t have to be special or an elitist to hang out with us. You don’t even have to be an American citizen. You just have to meet the requirements and be willing to run while wearing boots.

This isn’t some exclusive club. We like all types of people. We’re cool like that.

So perhaps you don’t join because you can’t meet the qualifications that us low-skill, not worthy of benefits folks met.

Or maybe you just love your freedoms and hate danger. Maybe you like picking where you live. Maybe your spouse has a career she doesn’t want to destroy by moving every three years. Maybe you don’t want to risk getting blown up in the street while driving through a far away land.

Those freedoms? We gave you those and make sure you keep them.

Try remembering that and then see how you feel about military benefits.

Sincerely,

Amy

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.
  • Bianca

    Love it! Love it! Love it! It is disheartening that just 5 days shy of us honoring our fallen military, a writer for a nationally recognized paper would feel the need to discount the tremendous sacrifice of our troops, their family members, specifically the children who have sacrificed so much. The awesome benefits we do receive do not even come close to equaling the value of the freedom those brave supply. Nor does a commissary, medical care, or on base housing compensate for the tens of thousands who are wounded, the new generation of young spouses who are widows, or the everyday military family who gives up normalcy so they can support the most honorable service in this country. Thank you for standing up for us!

    • Pep
      • R. L. Hansen

        The only thing that I can think of to say is Thank you!

      • howsitgoin55

        damn for someone to remember that you must feel like you deserve more, that what you get

    • Luke

      Could not have said it better myself. Thanks for the ardent defense, my wife would agree. I’ve had two kids while on active duty, and could not have asked for better care. I’ve served my time as a submarine officer, and while I may not have avoided bullets, I’ve shared my fair share under water and under ice. The military, and especially their families, deserve the benefit that our CONGRESS have provided. They have seen fit that we are provided for due to the sacrifices we make. Civilians may envy our compensation, but they either lacked the ability or the courage to sign up, that’s not our problem. How do you compensate for a life of service to keep someone else’s kids safe? I say, you’re welcome. There are threats that no one talks about and that no one else knows, yet we stay vigilant. Some people sleep well at night while some don’t sleep at all. I wish I could take them on watch with me.

    • Laura

      As a 28 year retired Navy veteran who’s also a wife, mother of 3 children and served my country in far away lands and aboard ship including carriers at sea, Amy’s rebuttal made me proud that she defended the militiary like she did. Civilians don’t have a clue about what it takes to be a Sailor, Soldier, Airman, Marine or Coastguardsmen – and even less about what their families go though while their mother or father is deployed. Yet they can smuggly sit there and pen such TRASH about a life they know nothing about – the newborn suddenly orphaned, the wife sudddenly widowed and the pain and suffering of countless limbs lost and the traumatic brain injuries that forever change the lives of not only the injured but the families as well. Clueless I tell you, absolutely CLUELESS! It’s like I always say – if you can’t stand behind our troops in support – FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT!

      • Misty

        Your last sentence should be a bumper sticker

  • Eva

    So well put Amy. Thanks for the comparison. You put it in a way that maybe some of the haters can actually see that we don’t get anymore then the average person who actually has a college degree and a job. God bless. I posted you letter on my Facebook page. Everyone should.

  • RGP

    The military benefit haters I know don’t argue with the sacrafice and the value of personnel worth. Their argument is the pay and benefits aren’t fiscally sustainable. They want a return to the draft and a reduction in career military staff. I don’t agree with them but don’t consider them haters either.

    • Bianca

      If welfare and food stamps and free cell phones for low incomes families are fiscally sustainable, then benefits for those who keep us secure should be sustainable. The IRS spent $50 million dollars in conferences from 2010 to 2013 (as per NPR), maybe other budgets need to be looked at

    • Latasha

      After you sign up and serve repost your reply, this is a joke. Don’t forget military families pay taxes too and the sacrifice our families make is invaluable to this country so respect it.

    • Mario

      What is not fiscally sustainable is the welfare state that does not mentioned explicitly which is what should be cut, Social Security, SNAP and things of that nature which the States themselves should absorb. The military is explicitly stated in the the Constitution and all things related are a proper function (pay and benefits) of Federal spending. The military, Federal court system, management of interstate and international commerce are what was supposed to be primary functions of the Federal government. Instead what we get is an improper application of the general welfare clause, and subsequent Acts, that have set the Federal government on an unsustainable path.

      • Guest

        You are sooooo right!

  • Sonja

    Why is it that we have so many benefits that some of our enlisted are qualified for WIC? I can remember being appalled that we don’t pay our families enough not to be on some sort of welfare. I really like your article. I wish it would have a wider audience and in the Post as a rebuttal.

    • Ally

      Because BAH and BAS are not counted as income for wic. If it was most families would not qualify.

      • MoK

        For WIC requirements a civilian’s rent/housing cost is supposed to be deducted from their income amount–so it isn’t counted for them either.

        • Ally

          It’s not deducted. Nor is their food costs.

      • Ashley

        BAS is not for the families it is for the soldier only and can be taken out of the pay check if and when the soldier goes for training for an extended amount of time to pay for MREs and the hot meals that may be served. Yes, rent or mortgage payments are deducted from civilian’s income amount, I know several civilians who get WIC or applied for it.

    • the other piece of this is that many young junior enlisted with dependents simply cannot afford the families they’re creating. This is no different than less-skilled entry level 20-somethings in the civilian sector who have families before truly making themselves financially successful so that they can afford their families. We can’t compare personal choice and personal actions of the 20-somethings (whether military or civilian) to what the system or employment provides them. The civilian would not have an employer providing housing (or the housing allowance) but the young soldiers do… but a roof over the head is only part of what a young family needs.

      • Fitnut72

        The civilian absolutely can have housing provided for them. It is called Section 8 housing. Look it up.

    • Shag
  • Very well said Amy. Thank you for writing this. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t many of commissary operating costs – less the personnel who are working there – funded by the 5% surcharge we pay? The WaPo article about the 15 kinds of ketchup at the Camp Lejune commissary is suggesting that taxpayers foot the entire cost of the commissary service and that simply isn’t true. In a state that doesn’t charge tax on food (such as FL or PA) the commissary isn’t always the best deal around.

    • I’m certain that you’re right Patricia. In fact, commissaries operate sort of as an enterprise fund, or a nonprofit-they don’t “profit” from the goods that are sold. Products are sold at a price to recover the cost of acquiring the product. Patrons buy items at cost plus the 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Interesting, however, that folks would in one breath, complain about the existence of commissaries which can save service members and families up to 30% on shopping needs, but in the next breath criticize the fact that junior service members with families qualify for gov’t assistance… and commissaries accept WIC, so overall, when someone who receives WIC uses those vouchers at the commissary, they’re actually saving the gov’t money overall.

      • Publius

        No, commissaries do not operate exclusively off of the 5% surcharge. The surcharge does go to the commissary, but they also receive funding from the federal government. Another thing to consider is the commissaries are required to provide their products at prices lower than the local economy. This requires a subsidy from the federal government to the commissaries to ensure that they are able to meet that benchmark.

        • Vette66

          No the commissaries are not required to provide their products at prices lower that the local economy. We buy all our food at civilian stores. Cost average is less than the commissary.

          • Publius

            They do, but the products commissaries purchase are name brand items. Store brand items are typically much less expensive than name brand items, even compared to the commissary. If you don’t mind having Walmart-brand ketchup, then it is cheaper to purchase that instead of Del Monte or Heintz, even from the commissary. If you absolutely must have a name-brand product, such as Del Monte or Heintz, then the commissary is typically cheaper.

            Not all prices have to be cheaper than those in the local economy. The intent is that the overall grocery bill is approximately 30% cheaper than prices on the local economy. That’s where the subsidy fits in.

  • Dana
  • Stephanie

    Well said!

  • Raquel

    Brilliant!!

  • Rosaisha
  • Jess T.
  • Debra

    This person has obviously not moved once every 3 years or less. This person has never thrown away (or donated) all of their perishable food items, restocked a freezer, pantry, and refrigerator for each required move to keep their job. This person has never navigated the challenges of deciding where to live without seeing it first. This person has never wiped their children’s tears as they say goodbye to their best friend yet again. This person has never had to downsize furniture, household belongings, and the like in order to not exceed weight restrictions for a required move (again, required to keep your job). This person has not ever been given a 24 hour notice to board a ship, plane, or bus to an undisclosed location for an undetermined amount of time. This person has not been forced to miss the birth of their child/ren, first steps, first birthday, Christmas, or worse yet a funeral of a beloved family member. This person has had the opportunity to celebrate important events with their spouse and family. I could go on with an endless list. I will stop now. You get my point. Military families sacrifice and no civilian will ever understand.

    • Old Chief

      Well said and very much to the point.I’ve always said those belly-achers had the same opportunity to join as the thousands of brave souls who did.But many (like the cry baby) would not make a pimple on a GI’s butt. I can identify with every one of your comments,having experienced same in my twenty year career.

    • SFC (ret)

      No they won’t, unless they themselves have lived the life of Military. They don’t understand what sacrifice is and may never.

      • Rosalee

        they never will be able to relate
        What I love in particular is when they start pontificating about how they can totally relate
        to working hours and environment………
        It always made me laugh………..roll my eyes.

        • Janet
          • Jeff

            He could have joined the military. It’s a volunteer force. He made the choice for Alaska – now your family has to live with that choice. He must love it there or he’d move on. My sister used to be in similar circumstances as you are in out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere Alaska…it was survival day to day. They did it for 6 years before moving back to CONUS for a sanity break and to get their kids on track with American culture. Enjoy your choice. We don’t have a draft anymore.

          • Overpaid PS Educator

            You clearly missed her point, entirely. Reread her post and the one she was responding to. The snarky reply was totally unwarranted.

          • fitnut72

            I certainly do not discount your service to Alaska. When your husband calls you from a war zone using a SAT phone while receiving incoming motar rounds, then we can talk. This can be a year long deployment (and has been) with a six month break, then out he goes again. At anytime, you can leave Alaska. It is not an option to walk away from your government contract meaning your oath to protect the constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. It is called desertion and will land you in the BRIG. There are dangerous professions. There is no greater family sacrifice to serve and protect others.

            My husband also gets calls at all hours. He doesn’t get to go home for a year at a time (multiple, frequent deployments). My husband cannot shoot at enemies in foreign countries even though they are shooting at them. Service members deal with child abuse, domestic abuse, and suicide. Have you seen the suicide rates of service members of late?

            You and your spouse CHOOSE to live in Alaska bush country. In over 24 years of active duty service, my spouse can request a duty station, but no promises are made. The active duty member has zero control on where they will live (CONUS or OCONUS) for their entire careers.

      • Janet
        • Guest

          Or give away parishable food and furniture and clothes that will take you over your weight-allowable limit for moving? Or not being able to move with your spouse because it is not allowed for dependents to live there? Or being stationed on a ship let LEAVES to spouse and kids behind for months on end? Or a submarine and cannot even communicate with your spouse and kids? Or not being allowed to go on leave when you want to because the needs of the military come first? Does your Trooper husband have to deal with that?

    • Justin
    • Rosalee

      Mine was every two years and as I recall, we did same when dad was in the Navy.
      I lost count quickly of how many schools we attended…….

    • Patty

      Amen and amen!

  • CLARENCE LARRY

    MOST OF THE HATERS WORK FOR THE VA RECIVEING FOUR TIME WHAT THE VET RECEIVES WITH BETTER BENIFITS THAT IS WHY THEY DENIE VET REQUEST SO THEY CAN BLOOD SUCK THE MONEY AS THE VET DIE OR KILL THEM SELFS BELIF THIS BROS THE BACKLOG KEEP GROWING ANYWHERE ELSE THERE ASS WOULD BE CANNED

  • Chris

    I am active duty and I can’t even fathom the sacrifices my wife and daughter have made in my service time. I know exactly what you mean about downsizing, restocking, etc. I have missed countless anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas’ while deployed. Are there areas to cut in the defense department? Absolutely, but military pay and benefits should not be one of them. Those who complain about our benefits have never had to do a will before every deployment, praying that we return safely. Nor have they had to deal with countless levels of bureaucracy to get a simple medical appointment. I know that military spouses have the absolute hardest job. They have to be mom and dad, driver, accountant, grocery shopper, cook, cleaner and childcare, all while missing their spouse and best friend and often going for days or weeks without more than the occasional email communication.

    • bravo, Chris, for understanding your family’s experience and empathizing with them!

    • Rosalee

      Mom sacrificed A LOT during dad’s 30 years.
      She was commendable in her role as a military wife. She was dedicated and
      strong, she had to be, and I still think of how much she supported him
      no matter.
      He was a major reason I took the oath, but she was also part of it.

    • VCT_Retired_Army

      Thanks for saying spouses. My husband gave up his career to follow me around the world and raise our daughter. When he tried to get back into the working world he had 3 different interviewers ask him to prove he was not in jail those 20 non-working years. They could accept it in a wife but not a husband.

    • Gisela Ward

      Been there done that .would not have missed it for th.e world you are right us wifes have to be all that but I was always willing and proud to do it .Thanks for my Husbands Militaery Carrier.

  • Josh

    Our pay has expanded faster than civilian equivalent income over the past decade because we were WAY behind prior to that. We’re only barely anywhere near parity now; this is the OPPOSITE of being overcompensated.

  • Mike

    I love the fact that they throw stuff like the “third most junior officer” around. In the Army, that “third most junior officer” at some point will be responsible for approximately 100 personnel, ensuring that they are trained and prepared to execute complex tasks in support of the nation or planning and executing those tasks in garrison or in a combat theater. That captain will be responsible for anywhere from $20-90 million dollars worth of equipment. Please tell me what US companies pay an executive with that sort of responsibility. $86,000/year will be a bargain in comparison, I guarantee. And oh, by the way, that “third most junior officer” can’t fire the screw-ups, he has to deal with them, and he/she is responsible for those 100 people’s behavior on and off duty.

    • another truly significant point, you make, Mike. Even officer salaries, compared with the jobs of civilian counterparts, pale in comparison to the level of responsibility the officer has. That captain will also have on his chest and back the lives of those 100 personnel who are killed or wounded while on deployment, for the rest of his/her life. How many junior level civilian executive officers have that to contend with?

    • VCT_Retired_Army

      And the behavior of their families. And overseas, even how the dispose of their car or pets.

    • Norman Blakley

      I agree with Mike even though my time is way off. I was a commander of 475 Security Police personnel with a nucler capability in 1968-1971 and a Base Security and Law Enforcement at the time as a Captain. We were part of the CPA (Captains Protective Association0 because the Captains commanded or were the Officers in Charge of most of the units on base.

    • Robert

      True. You have to measure the level of responsibility, not the time in service.

  • Clancy

    I have been brought to the brink of thinking that military service to this country is not worth it despite dedicating 24 years to the combat arms. Just think of how little it would take for that thought to invade the mindset of the mere 1% still willing and able to serve. Just think of the costs that would deliver to those already unwilling and unable to serve this country. In defense of the whiners, empathy is difficult to exercise, but near impossible when they can’t even imagine the sacrifices of the soldier and family. That they have forgotten that wolves exist means the shepherds have done their duty.

    • you make an interesting point, but ours is a complex system, society, and history, given the unpaid wars and lives thrown away by GW/Cheney, all for profit. I started losing my optimism and belief in serving about 8 years before retiring, and it was hard to stick around to get my 20yrs, but I did, to the day. But I have a neighbor who is in his early 30’s (he and his wife) and they have 2 boys, so they’re clearly older than the typical recruit, but he wanted to serve… there are still some who believe in the idea of being part of something bigger than themselves…

    • John Sanderson

      Chris, that is the point of the original article that sparked Amy’s response. To discredit and to destroy the desire of future volunteers. If Americans will not volunteer for the military, then the draft will have to be reinstated for the survival of our great country.
      A draft will allow the Marxist’s in charge to single out those who oppose them (demographically) and ship them off to war. It is one piece to an ever increasing plan to bring down our country.
      Thank you for staying in and defending our families.
      I cannot join the military due to spinal injuries and age, but I gladly defend our military personnel from the liberal and political scum who continue to attack you.
      GOD Bless You All.

  • Chris

    Exactly the way to break this down, by “hourly wage”… If we were union we would get time and a half, or even double time…. Not including the endless days of no sleep at all. If the American worker put in the hours at the pay scale of the U.S. Military, the economy would be better off. But we all know that is not going to happen, now is it?

    • and now we have politicians who not only try to eliminate unions, but who also want to get rid of the overtime pay that hourly workers get…

  • PCLEM

    Thank you, Amy.

  • Clancy

    As a retired airborne infantryman,at times I wonder if it was worth it to take such risks and endure so much sacrifice by both myself and my family. I still had to earn a second civilian retirement to make it financially possible. The military pay and benefits never catch up to the civilian. It takes the rarest of the rare to commit so much to this country for so little in return. Consider the cost to the whiners and the unwilling or unable if the mere 1% that bears the burden were to realize that this country or its people are not worth the sacrifice. That they have forgotten about wolves means the shepherds have done their duty. However, I served “…to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” which made it worthwhile. We have too many too high up that break that oath often. They will be our undoing…the sheep will render themselves irrelevant if they allow that to continue.

    • Rosalee

      Thank you.
      Mom often wondered same regarding Dad’s 30 years of service.
      During the years I served, I often wondered same when I heard all
      the whining, which seemed to be nonstop

  • Amanda G

    Well spoken :) I would just like to add, for people who think comissaries and such can be afforded to shut down, there are people, like myself, stationed 45,at least, minutes from the nearest grocery store. And it is by no means cheaper than civilian grocery stores. My food bill has tripled since moving here. Which is another thing about military living, we get moved somewhere where the cost of living is higher, but our pay or allowances aren’t. :)

    • John Sanderson

      As a child I was part of the many military poor families that would not have survived financially without the PX/Commissary discounts for basic living needs.
      My father was a SSG in the army and it used to amaze me what my mother could purchase with close to no money at the commissary. When we would go to the regular civilian stores we would come home with 2/3 the products at nearly twice the cost.
      My daughter is in the Marines and I noticed some rather high prices on base at Camp Geiger. Things have changed quite a bit since I was a kid.

  • ian
  • Candyce
  • Candyce
  • The only problem is no one has died directly in defense of this country since WW2. No, instead they died for another country. Maybe we are tired of doing that with little or no result. Korea is the only exception, yet it ended in a truce and continued cold war right up to now.

    • VCT_Retired_Army

      Even if true, that is not the fault of the soldier doing the dying. If you don’t think stopping the spread of communism and eventually strangling it was worthwhile – that is your opinion – but voice it to the politician and not the kid brave enough to volunteer, fight and die. Same with terrorism … if you want to wait until it hits your doorstep, that is your choice to tell your Congressman. We go where were told and believe we are keeping evil AWAY from our country.

      • Guest

        Bravo! Couldn’t say it any better than that!

  • John montgomery
  • ninjacoolgirl2004

    I love how they include the schools in there like our taxes don’t pay for other schools too. Not to mention all of the social programs we pay for.
    Also I think before closing the commissary down, maybe we should look into making it more efficient. Let the people that handle the exchange handle it as well, they seem to be doing okay. So we do not need as much overhead? There are a lot of things that they could do more efficiently and save the same money plus. .. Just a thought. Not really the point of the story I know.
    Also a commenter on the post article said that military benefits were welfare. Okay, so does that mean that all people on welfare work 12 hours a day and are required to deploy. . . . Please, military people work for their pay and benefits. I totally understand of things have t be cut for budget ect. but really, do they have to suggest that its because we are not worth it. I know people in my husbands mos that got out and are making at least twice what we do, including benefits.

  • liam

    Amy, What get’s me, is that it sounds like this is the beginning of people outside the military whom are going to press their legislators to push for a downward spiral of the military….of which I am not surprised. Like you so clearly pointed out, if civilians are so envious of what we have VET or still active, then go through the paces and raise his/her right hand!! It seems not long ago I saw a bumper sticker that said “Support the TROOPS”, on the pack of his SUV and this person was moaning about how “pampered: Funny how trendy people get!!

  • lisa heck

    Yes…yes…military peeps…twain said it best….someone has got to sit on the curb during a parade for soldiers. We applaude our heros and give the knowin glance to servicemen riding the wave. I pay too much taxes for this b.s.. volunteer army…..

    • VCT_Retired_Army

      Sorry but we pay taxes too.

  • Old Sarge

    Hold on! With any luck, the imbeciles that run our country and the “progressives” who control them will be OUT thanks to the vote of those of us who still care and want to contribute. If not, this great experiment may well be over. Molon Labe, Baby.

    • Ringer

      Most of the commenters on here seem to be civilian haters. I spent a considerable amount of time in the military but more as a civilian. I am a progressive and I have no problem with what the military is paid, except when it comes to contractors who produce shoddy equipment that doesn’t work that our soldiers have to use. The problem is the poor pay in the private sector. I suggest you look at the bills put out by republicans and the way they vote on veterans issues but I guess you’re just fine with getting rid of federal and state employees, school teachers and union paychecks. If you think conservatives are going to take that money and give it to the military you’re crazy; they will give the rich another batch of tax cuts. The house holds the purse strings and last I heard it was run by republicans and not Nancy Pelosi. All the hater speech you guys hear are the same words used against any group republicans can’t stand- teachers, unions, state and federal employees.

  • Gina
  • Barry Henderson
  • Barry Henderson
  • Guest

    Hey, I’d love to join and get the huge salary and benefits of the military, but guess what. I can’t. I’m too old. Sorry, writer, but the military doesn’t take anybody. If you’re in your 30s, forget about it. Remember, to us civilians, our 30s are nowhere near retirement, unlike yourselves, as many of you can opt out at 38 with your pensions. So quit your bitching

    • Shavri

      Bull you can join right up till 39 yo if you meet the requrements and the Reserve will take you after that even.. Go on down and stick your hand in the air right this minute. Hurry up and get your benefits now since you think they are so wonderful. THough I wonder why you didn’t choose to go in when you were younger LOL.

    • Retired Army MSG

      Realling Boy are you missing the point. The service is not for everyone. With that type of talk we are better without your kind.

      Have a nice life!

    • dennis

      after 3 years active duty in Europe, in a isolated NATO site, joined the army reserves number years.
      then when I was well past 30, I joined the naval reserves for my combined retirement. ….so, there’s
      nothing stopping you from joining the reserves in your 30’s. don’t let age stop you, lots your age
      are trying to join.

    • fitnut72

      You could have certainly joined when you turned 18. Where were you?

  • SBrooks

    Wow I was just reading some comments, just wow, I would like to have this free healthcare your talking about, sign me up. I commented earlier .For you information, which you obviously are short on, I pay plenty in co pays, and prescriptions. I have limited dental which comes out of my husbands pay every month on the first. I have no eye coverage, that is all out of pocket. My daughter had two kidney surgeries and I have the receipts for how much out of pocket I have paid for. Is their anything else you need cleared up. And for those who serve, by your 30’s physically alone, not to mention mentally it is draining, and retirement does come early, but they have served their time and have worked enough in that 20 yrs to make it feel like 40.

    • SBrooks

      I forgot to mention the housing, yeah I pay rent every month, and do not live on the base, and so many families live off base and pay everything just as you. Just because you are in the military doesn’t mean you get everything. I have been on a waiting list for housing for over 2 yrs. And here all utilities are paid by the person living there, not the government or anybody else.

      • Lissa

        Most of the housing at the bases I was stationed at went to privatized housing so they get paid their BAH but have to turn around and give it to the contractor, in essence they rent the house, and their rent is based on Rank. For instance when I got orders 6 months ahead of my husband, I was looking at renting a house on base for the short time until he got here. However since we were mil to mil we both got single rate. When I went in they told me that the would lease me a small 2 bedroom house for 2100 a month, based on my husband’s rank, and prorated to add my rank. So the rent on this home was taking over 3/4’s of our BAH and it did not include utilities, it was cheaper to rent off base as they did not use our rank in the rent amount it was a flat rate….Now for the lower ranks E-1-E-4 with a family and only one of them active duty it is a bargain, and I whole heartly believe that the lower ranks should have priority for base housing over mil to mil couples without children and higher ranks..

  • NavySpouse27

    Yikes, I think this article has quite the condescending tone! I am not sure where all the anger comes from… I don’t think my civilian friends begrudge me any of the benefits we receive. However, in this time of fiscal austerity I do believe that the military is going to have to start making some “small” personnel sacrifices to sustain our great benefits/military strength overall. We have a great deal going with retirement and healthcare (compared to most Americans). I would rather shop at local grocery stores, raise prices at the commissary, or pay small co-pays for Tricare while still keeping our lifetime retirement and healthcare. I’m afraid that if we (as military families and veterans) keep make everything a “sacred cow” we will be the big losers in the end. I hear so much complaining about closing the commissary ONE day a week. We are stationed overseas and are losing school days, have no air conditioning, and recreation programs have been eliminated. What benefits would you be willing to do without? The cuts are coming!

    • Unpopular Opinion

      Thank you for providing a voice of reason! Honestly, I am so grateful that there is another spouse out there who is tired of this “us vs. them” attitude that seems to be growing in the military community. Cuts do need to be made, and I feel as though they are going to be detrimental if push comes to shove and no one is willing to sit down and propose a reasonable, current-economy plan!

  • KELLY K.KANODE

    All the comments above are valid to which I add you forgot to list we are on duty call 24 hours a day; where in civilian life are you called out any time day or night 7 days a week 365 a year holidays included, to defend your right to continue to breath. Factor in the pay based on 24 hours each and every day and what is the pay scale now for that Captain or enlisted troop. When is that civilian counterpart filling those boots? THINK ABOUT IT. KELLY CWO RET.

    • Publius

      Well…it’s a life you volunteered for. We haven’t had the draft for a very long time. It’s illegal to give someone the choice of “go to war or go to jail.” How often does the on duty 24/7 really come in to play? While deployed – absolutely. While in garrison stateside….not so much. In fact, the typical garrison schedules is not that bad. PT from 0500-0600. First formation at 0830. Released for lunch at 1130. Accountability formation at 1330. Joes released at 1600-1630. NCO’s released after the end of day meeting at 1700-1730.

      And that was for an airborne infantry company. Obviously, work would keep us over sometimes. Obviously we’d go out to the field sometimes. Obviously, we’d get a visit from the “good idea fairy” sometimes and that would eat up our time. Obviously there were range days that took all day and/or all weekend.

      But there’s a lot of free time and low stress time. It’s the deployments, the NTC rotations, the trainups that eat up the time.

  • MLG

    Been divorced since 2010 but ex refuses to turn her ID Card in so she can use commissary and PX illegally, so she must like those benefits. Her attorney told her not to turn them in.

    • Lissa

      If she is not entitle to them, then you just have to go the the SFS let them know most of the bases have the ID card scan and they can retireve it from her as she is trying to enter base…

    • VCT_Retired_Army

      Luckily it will expire soon.

  • Rick

    The real issue, is why is ‘politics’ continuing to be played, when resolutions to the DoD’s monetary woes are all around; for instance, do away with funding for all display groups (Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, Tops in Blue, Army Knights, bands of all types, etc). If organizations want these to continue they need to fund them. Now that is still just a small pittance compared to the huge saving the DoD could enact if Congress would assist them by changing Title 10 and reorganizing the DoD into one department (the DoD) without separate and distinct budgets, acquisition requirements, etcetera for the Services. Service members would seem to maintain the same existence, but the fact we could reduce huge amounts of overhead (majorally senior levels) would save trillions over the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) and frankly would expedite organizational operations exponentially. The only downside is that Congress would lose a huge amount of pork; why do you think they just turned down the latest BRAC request?!

    • Guest

      Rick, I too am a federal employee (DON) AND a retiree after 20 years of faithful honorable service. I too will be furloghed for 11 days just like every other (maybe) federal employee. However, that 1.something % of a payraise for the active duty is nothing compared to what some GS and contractors are pulling in every two weeks. We are talking about military benefits here, not Congressional inability to solve current issues. The military people need what they need just like you need what you need.

  • Vietnam Veteran

    Well said Amy. To the Benefit Haters, “Walk a Mile in Our Shoes (combat boots), you might find you no longer have feet to walk with or hands to type with. But say your piece, it’s your right. Someone else paid for that right. God Bless America and protect all who serve.

  • Bill L.

    The sad fact is that if the compensation and benefits ARE reduced then most young people will not see military service as a career option and that will be the end of the all-volunteer force – which will mean that we will have to return to the draft to fight our next big war and that WILL impact everyone in America.

  • dianne gill

    My husband suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 38, while on active duty. he applied for ss benefits(due to the fact that the navy discharged him) and the first thing the ss employee asked was, “you don’t pay taxes while in the military, do you??” that’s a civilian for you! of course we had to set him right, so that when the next ex serviceman applies, maybe he will not show his ignornance!

  • Nicole

    As a single mother who has currently served 12 years active duty I sincerely appreciate your article Amy. It is very touching to know that there are people willing to stand up to inappropriate and unfounded opinions that disrespect our service members and their families’ rights. Again, thank you for your article.

  • Bill

    Please research the pay scales of the military and the responsibilities that come with them before publishing your whinny articles about the pay and benefits. If you had been in the military you would not have written that article.

    • Guest

      Who are you talking about Bill? Amy? The article was a good article.

    • Martin

      Eating three squares a day, exercising and getting proper rest put 15 pounds on many of us in Basic. It was good weight, and part of the growing up a normal 18 year old goes through. Unless you were a chow hound and didn’t miss an opportunity to grab a baby ruth bar on your limited visits to the shoppette. 15 pounds is normal. Physical fitness is your responsibility as well. You were obviously fit enough to get in the door.

  • mmiggymetoomm

    I was in the best shape of my life when I joined the military. I put on FIFTEEN POUNDS in Basic training. So don’t even THINK of telling me that soldiers are in shape.

    • There are PLENTY of out of shape soldiers, but I think the author’s point was that your weight and level of physical fitness can affect your job, unlike in the civilian sector, save for a few positions. With all the draw-downs going on over the next few years, more people are getting booted because they can’t pass PT tests. I can only think of a few civilian jobs (police officers, firefighters, some rescue workers) that would have a similar requirement. The bottom line is that the military has requirements that affect a service member’s entire life, where most civilian employees in a variety of trades and specialties can fully separate their private life from their work life. I think we can all agree that a service member’s day is never truly over.

      • VCT_Retired_Army

        Actually most police departments only have entry requirements for their academies. After that if you get permantly injured or too fat to do your job, you get a desk job or an easy neighborhood. I precifically asked brother who is a deputy sheriff in FL after seeing so many really fat officers in his city and he just laughed at the concept of weight requirements and said “I wish!”

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Sorry for the confusion — my point was that your shape impacts whether or not you can join to start with and being in shape makes you a more valuable person because you are meeting a set of qualifications others can’t …

  • Mike Cormier

    Amy, you have written a wonderful letter of rebuttal. Thank you!

    I am retired from the Navy. If I had a chance to do it all again I would still choose my military career over my civilian career! God Bless you and your family. God Bless all of the families who have dedicated themselves to protecting and preserving our freedoms through military service!

    We sleep soundly at night because there is a well trained military force guarding our nation 24/7/365. They go into harms way because they love the freedoms we have and are willing to protect those freedoms with every fiber of their being!

    God Bless America!

  • Lissa

    Amy
    Thank You for writing this, most who have never seen the military life do not understand it. I as a 20 year veteran understand where you are coming from. Another point that I see is the VA/Retiree issue. I heard alot of people complain about our retirement check that we get at age “40”. That we get this huge retirement. As I retired 2 years ago, I kew the amount I would get on retirement and knew that I would have to take another job just to survive. What the “haters” don’t know is I only get half of my retirement as I am under the retirement age of “65”, they other part they don’t know or care to know is the Fed Gvt taxes the hell out of it. So in essence I am making a quarter of what I did when I was active duty.

    • Lissa

      And the medical benefits for life, well when I was on active duty I did not have a co-pay, well as a retiree I do. And I have VA benefits, however when I am seen at the VA clinic they turn around and send the bill to Tricare, then Tricare sends me a bill for the Co-Pay, then I have to take that to the VA clinic for them to pay my co-pay for a service connected disability, I just spent a day off work running that paperwork around thus losing income.

  • Shawn

    Anyone that complains about what any military person makes, need only change occupations for higher salaries. There are tons of apprenticeship occupations all over the US. I for one, do not believe the military makes enough for all they go through for We the People of the USA and for the government to cut their benefits is the most ridiculous and stupid thing done in American history.

  • C.J.exnavybrat/armyvet.

    Everyone,

    I grew up as a navy brat in VaBch, VA. My father who spent 26 yrs in Navy was only home for 8 years of his carrer and out of those 8 yrs he never worked only a 40 hr wk. He missed so much of my childhood that when he past away after only 3 years of retirement that it was just another send off for me. I grew up in navy houseing, we never had a large yard, we never had a pool in the back yard, I had to share a bedroom with a brother most of my life. Navy houseing was great for friendship building but they or we always had to move. I went to 13 different schools from K-12’th grade try to fit in doing that. We never had the extras such as new vehicles, 17’th street surf shop shirts, Polo shirts, Nike,Adidas,Reebok shoes. I went to all the rich kid schools but could not hang out with them they were all better than me their parents were rich and lived in big houses received $20 a day allowance and the kids drove cars that cost more than my parents made in a year. My mother worked just so we could join in ball leagues go to the base pool which still cost us to get in. I joined the Army and I started off with $840 per month. Even back in 1986 that would not go far in Va Bch. Va. to cloth feed and house a young man let alone a family. I believe that the government has taken enough from those who have served and instead of takeing from them what about their retirement package !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Unpopular Opinion

    I’m a military spouse of 8 years (active duty) and I agreed with the Washington Post article. Domestic commissaries should be closed- as should DOD schools on domestic bases. The military wastes so much money and then whines about not having enough for needed things, like medical. Perhaps if there wasn’t such a sense of entitlement and an overall feeling that Americans OWE us, then civilians might be able to empathize or try to understand the sacrifices we do have to make.
    And the commissary is often more expensive than on-the-economy store sales- especially in the many, many states with food tax lower than 5%. Outside of the international food sections the commissary is rarely the best option.
    The more this attitude of entitlement continues the more the general American public is going to resent the military. So quit whining and start working together to come up with logical, reasonable plans to help cut our part of this country’s crippling debt.

    • guest

      yea I’m with you, and I’ve been blasted numerous times on these forums for it. heaven forbid you even mention that active duty should have a small premium for monthly healthcare if they have families

      • AED

        @ Unpopular Opinion and guest,

        I agree (I will not blast you either) that the domestic locations should be considered for closure, along with DoD schools, however there are still remote locations (Ft. Irwin, Ft. Polk) in which a closure of the commissary would become a hardship possibly and the closure of a DoD school at these locations are not in the best interest of the children. The purpose of the commissaries and PX, NEX etc… are there for the active duty service members. For locations such as Ft. Sam Houston this might be a good idea after all there are two AF bases (Lackland , Randolph) in the city of San Antonio. It would make more sense to keep the two AFB locations open, there are also HEB, Wal-Mart, and central Market to name a few other locations that can be used as well from JBSA, Lackland, or Randolph. Anyway, for what it’s worth I think this may come to be for some locations but not all.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      You’ll actually note in the post that I said Im not against commissaries closing (although the cost to the tax payer would actually go up because the way the agency keeps food costs low OCONUS is by subsidizing them with surcharge funds – and that cost would instead be handled by the tax payer).

      Again, my problem is with the attitude that goes along with the Post story.

      • Unpopular Opinion

        And if you’d read my entire comment you’d notice my problem is with the entitled, martyred attitude of military spouses that goes along with this backlash. Constantly insisting that Americans OWE you is not the way to encourage support and respect for our military.

  • Don

    Well said Amy!

    Would like to add that our budget would not be what it was if DoD made the decisions on how to spend it. DoD is required to buy office supplies and furniture from “earmarked organizations” to serve political ends. DoD has to buy airframes, tanks and ships based upon congressional districts not warfighter needs. Any taxpayer who is frustrated with the size of the DoD budget, should tell their congressmen to ask DoD how it wants to spend the funding and then at the same time cannot go to their congressman to complain if DoD shuts down a base in their backyard or slashes acquisition projects that are no longer needed. If DoD is bloated, it is because congress hides pet projects in DoD funding lines.

  • Frank Keechi

    way to go Amy. Spot on.

    Privileged to serve (and now retired).

  • patricia brandt

    i agreebut have any of you heard about them wanting to do away with the miltary funerals

  • Sarge

    7% of Americans have worn the uniform to protect the 100% and I’m proud to be one of them.

  • Mike S
  • chet

    Left overs from the 60s and 70s dont worry they will soon be dead lol and take jane fonda with you

  • Terry

    We picked our careers and they picked theirs. And remember we pay taxes too. So in a sense we pay our own salaries. Get off your lazy, welfare asses and join the military since you haters think you now so much!!

  • Ginny

    Thank you Amy!!!! My husband is retiring this summer after 26 yrs in the Navy and I am a civilian contractor with the Army. We currently live in Hawaii but face the sacrifices of being away from all our family and friends in the most isolated spot on planet Earth. We have been here 7 yrs and I have been home twice. And now we don’t know what we will do. Having a commissary…really???? That’s the thing these people want to focus on? They make me sick! How about the MULTIPLE deployments, lost anniversaries, birthdays, holidays? What about the wondering if he WOULD come home? And then turning around and doing it all again the next year….PLEASE PEOPLE come spend a day walking in my shoes and then let’s talk.

  • AF Loggie~

    No one could even imagine how my daily life was in Kabul, Afghanistan?!?! Hmm, throwing on 80lbs of gear, jumping in my non-armored SUV with my 10-favorite friends to convoy across the war stricken city to train/mentor an organized group of warriors/thieves knowing that your life was at stake the whole time we were there (1-year). Volunteer force, yes, volunteer to spend 1115 days of the last five years away from home, family and friends. Not so sure the 72-80 hrs a week, 10-mins a day internet access and a 3-min phone call a couple of times a week. Not sure most of you understand what its like that have not served. Thanks to all you brothers and sister who have! Benefits and retirement, just a same token!

  • COLNEIL

    Less then 1% of today’s American citizens serve in the armed forces….and whoever had the nerve to write against these benefits for these less than 1 % ought to be tried for treason!!!!

  • Steve

    Liked it, a lot… I usually hate opinionated articles, but she put a lot of thought and facts behind her opinion, and it summed up my 27-year enlisted USAF sacrifice (and my family’s) to a tee. Thanks Amy!!!

    Yeah, my military retirement pay might be better than most civilians and as good as some federal workers, but it still doesn’t cover my mortgage and ever-expanding TriCare / Delta-dental / VGLI premiums. My retiree benefits won’t ever be enough, but I can assure you, we earned every one of them…

  • Allan

    Why do people and politicians always talk about military/retirees pay and benefits, saying they are costing the nation. Look at the salaries and benefits of politicians, they are a lot more costly then military/retirees pay and benefits. Look at Social Security they the politicians robbed Peter to pay Paul with our monies. Now they are saying we can’t keep Social Security and it will be broke soon. When they talk about military personnel being unskilled, well most courses that are taught in the military classify as credits at universities, so you can throw that out about being unskilled. Amy you are done on right about military benefits, great article.

  • PAUL j, r,

    My self, I retired 36 years ago with a total of 24 years in the Air force. i have heard enough complaints from civilians who nevere were in the military. As ithas been mentioned about pay and benefits they don’t know what military families are chargwed for rent when they go to different place and the joyful pleasure of having to move a family on a PCS. I had to move family fro NYS to Nfld and then to Offuft and then to Hawaii in a period from Mar 1963 until Aug 1967. They complain of what military make but what about the cost of living. alot of these complainers weren’t aroud when i first enlisted in Apr 1953 and they don’t know what it is to raise a family in the military. I guess I’ll rest my case.

  • faithfull4him

    This article really says what we’re all thinking when we see all of the crazy media hype out there that paints such a one-sided picture of our lives. Thank you for having the courage to share our thoughts!

  • Kenneth

    Amy Bushatz may take umbrage at the tone she perceives from civilians regarding military benefits, but her premise falls flat for a number of reasons.

    There are civilian careers that are equally as perilous as serving on active duty, that demand the same degree of selflessness, and where benefits are not remotely as close as those we enjoy. Since those professions largely are a function of local government, the standing these individuals enjoy in their communities is high, while their pay remains low.

    Firefighters in particular meet all the criteria Bushatz uses to define the life of sacrifice, yet she myopically is unable to point out the parallels these folks characterize, and goes so far as to use the same tone in suggesting that Americans are largely unfit, high school dropouts and/or criminals!

    The height of her shameless rant is when she says, “Those freedoms? We gave you those and make sure you keep them.” This statement is factually wrong, insulting, and most assuredly puts into perspective that she has an even bigger axe to grind – and she needs it because of the large-sized chip on her shoulder.

  • raymond ak2 ret usn

    to the military beneifits haters u sit there and cry and u do do not want join the armed forces is because u r to chicken but you want your freedom by using other people blood what will you do if your freedom is threaten if there is no military to protect it u will be the first one to hide like a coward

  • AD1 USNRET

    My pay and benefits are earned benefits. They are not freebies or giveaways, but earned. Why is it so hard to trim the DoD budget? Read below for an example.

    from Military.com., House Votes to Eliminate Service Camo Patterns, Jun 06, 2013.

    “The Government Accountability Office blasted the U.S. military in September for the way it has developed camouflage uniforms over the past decade. Since 2012, military service leaders have introduced seven new patterns — two desert, two woodland and three universal — in a “fragmented approach” that GAO officials argue should be avoided in the future.”

    “Two separate studies performed by Army scientists from Natick Soldier Systems Center, Mass. — one completed in 2009 and the other in 2006 — showed that the UCP performed poorly in multiple environments when compared to other modern camouflage patterns.

    In both studies, MultiCam, a pattern popular with Special Operations Forces, outperformed UCP, the pattern the Army adopted in 2004 to replace the service’s woodland and desert camouflage uniforms.

    Natick officials last year, publicly criticized the Army for selecting UCP long before testing was complete, charging that UCP cost taxpayers billions in uniforms and matching body armor, backpacks and other equipment.”

    “The Army spent $2.6 million to develop the UCP pattern and then another $2.9 million to field Multicam combat uniforms after Army officials determined the UCP was unsuitable for Afghanistan.

    The GAO estimates that the Army will have to spend another $4 billion on uniforms and equipment over the next five years when it selects its new family of camouflage patterns.”

    Why is it so hard to trim the DoD budget? Because the DoD wants to gut it’s personnel (it’s easier) than to gut contractors and vendors that contribute and kick back directly or indirectly to politicians and senior DoD officials. I got mine, sux to be you, good ole boy network at work in the beltway.

    I’m all for staying ahead of the competition, and giving the worlds best fighting force the tools needed to perform and complete their mission. But over $4.5B to develop a combat uniform? A Surplus in the TriCare(less) budget, and folks want to take my EARNED benefits away from me! No Way!

  • Aly Maderson-Quinlog

    I’d like to add a point. If enough people are distracted by our so-called “ridiculous” benefits then they will stop demanding fair wages and benefits from their civilian employers. Let’s distract the population with what we have so they don’t notice what we don’t give them.

    I agree that the military could use a budgetary lean down, but taking away benefits from hard working members and their families is the wrong place to start.

  • Sandy

    And, let us not forget that the soldier is never really finished with his/her commitment. After retirement, everyone is still vulnerable to being called back up. After 9/11, my husband had a guy in his class who had last worn a uniform when Nixon was president. Service is forever, so think of the retirement pay and benefits as retainer fees.

  • eric jones

    Outstanding Amy.I do disagree with only one thing in your response, ,There is one branch that is exclusive “We are the few the proud the Marines”, Yes Iam an Old School Marine, second generation.Once a Marine always a Marine.

  • melvin gall (msg ret
  • Hunner06

    Suggest that Rajiv Chandrasekaran return to India and join the Indian Armed Forces. As a foreigner who came to America to reap the benefits of living in our country, he has no right to criticize the benefits given to members of our Armed Forces who have earned those benefits by service to the nation. What service has Rajiv Chandrasekaran given to the United States? He has the freedom to leave at any time — the sooner the better.

  • Alohabunny

    The truth always hurts doesn’t it?

  • Alohabunny

    Take it down quick before you have to question it………

  • Alohabunny

    What if you left it up and the others had to realize what dirtbags you all are?

  • Alohabunny

    A mutual admiration society, Bonnie and her boobs……….

  • Alohabunny

    Just keep talking among yourselves, since you are the only ones who care about being the dirtbags you all are.

  • Robert

    An average Captain who is a company commander supervises over 100 “employees”. Upper management in the civilian world. Is compensation commensurate with the level of responsibility? Nope. A civilian executive with 140 employees that they have absolute responsibility for makes way more than a Captain. You have to compare levels of responsibility, not experience in years. Also, as 1SG in Iraq I had over 300 men in my company. Compare my salary to that of a civilian with that much responsibility. Ha. Wouldn’t even be close. It is easy to take numbers and make them say what you want, but it is irresponsible for a member of the press, who is supposed to report the news , not make it, to do so.

  • Tangela Johnson
  • Jay

    It’s all about honor, duty and sacrifice. And sacrifice they do, even after leaving the military. Remember, not all wounds are visible. It is something only military families can understand. Don’t blame civilians for their lack of insight. They haven’t lived it. And yes, they served by choice and would do it again!

  • UnfuriatedMilspse

    I appreciate the balanced facts you use to refute improper and uneducated pay comparisons, but when I read the original WP article, expecting to be infuriated, but other than the pay comparison gem you quoted, which was truly ignorant on the author’s part, I found the “privileged brats” tone notably absent. In it, an MOAA spokesperson who says, “We owe it to them because they’ve put in decades of extraordinary sacrifice on behalf of our nation.” No where is that contradicted. No one wanted to take savings away from military families or retirees, but to offer them through more appropriate channels. As the article notes, “Running a chain of grocery stores is not a core competency of the Defense Department.” If there’s a limit to how much is in the DoD budget (and there’s always going to be a limit) why don’t we take the $1.4B that goes into the commissaries and direct that toward safety, personnel, and equipment? If the private sector has pledged to take up the slack, why not let them, and thereby we reserve more of the budget to supporting the troops in mission success?

    • fitnut72

      Using the same thought, DOD should not run daycares on base, but they do. Why? For troop readiness. Movie theaters are on base (patrons pay to go). Why? Because maybe that Saturday night movie may give a troop something to do besides blow his brains out. It is called MORALE, WELFARE, and RECREATION for a reason. It is an overall approach to recruitment and troop welfare.

  • Tonya
  • Ladbrd

    This can’t be the civilian contractors complaining who are making $150,000.00 each year while working next to an enlisted member doing the same job and making $35,000.00 a year! Just can’t be. The Military deserves everything they get! To tell the truth they deserve even more! Anytime you want to sign your name on the dotted line please do so! My husband is a Marine, and my father is a retired SGT Major. Everyone else can collect unemployment benefits when they PCS when their spouses but the great state of Virginia denies spouses unemployment benefits when they PCS with their spouses! But they don’t mind taxing me for everything they can think of.

  • Survivor 1

    So well stated and after all the active Duty time put in on both the Soldiers and Spouses and Families there is one more minority that isn’t mentioned the Surviving Spouse and Families you not only had to do with out all the time stationed where ever well you get to do even more without as a Surviving Spouses and Families the Other Minority. Why is the questions?

  • 26 Year Vet

    So, was it a choice? You bet and without regret I would raise my hand and swear in again for the privilege to serve with the some of the finest men and women walking our streets. And it’s the same choice every Hater has too. BUT…I also know my family and I EARNED every benefit during my contractual employment no different than the fat bonus checks the pharmaceutical salesman makes meeting his contractual goals. From the physical psychological, and emotional equity every military family signs up for and pays into, we earn it with every move, deployment, missed event, long hours and duty nights. NO, it’s not an entitlement, I resent that characterization and I don’t have that entitlement sense so leave that to the healthy/able bodied people who’d rather collect unemployment or welfare rather than flip burgers or bus tables first.

  • Trisha
  • CW4, US Army Retired

    Awesome article — Amy! On behalf of the family I raised while serving in the military for over 21 years, we thank you for being the voice of the military family….

    For the Guest that posted a comment on this article 6 days ago. Here is what I say to you. It is obvious not only you are ignorant on the subject you posted, you are a moron who lacks the compassion to military families.

    So for the record just because you are in your 30s, it does not mean the military cannot take you in. Providing are one of the five, Amy spoke about who is physically fit! If you are not fit, that was your choice! The ARMY opened the door for critics such as yourself to join the Army until you are 40 years of age. Here you go – the door is still open, just for you. The talaban is looking for a few good target… Perhaps after serving a tour in Afghanistan, you might have a change of heart…

    Sincerely,
    CWO, US Army Retired

  • Trisha
  • Bruce

    Amy,

    I agreed with your entire blog until the end…

    “We gave you those and make sure you keep them.”

    I didn’t see in your credentials where you served, or are currently serving. I AM serving. You are a spouse, you ARE NOT serving…

  • Mac

    Kinda dickish there, Bruce. I know you know she meant “we” as in the whole of the military family. If you are married and don’t give your wife (or maybe husband in your case) credit for allowing you to focus on mission first and always and how that makes you effective, you just don’t get it. MMC(SW) 24 years; 16-year sea counter and never worried about home – she had my back.

    • T Rush

      You know Mac family members do sacrifice, but my wife wasn’t in a foxhole, didn’t do any PT, and never deployed with me to a combat zone or made a O dark thirty combat equipment jump. It is a team effort, but make no mistake the sacrifices are not the same.

  • Rich

    Beautiful Amy! Beautiful! I skimmed through your article but the gist of it is abundantly clear. I possibly missed whether this fact was mentioned but I would emphasize to the “haters” that military familes both active and retired do NOT rely on taxpayers. WE PAY TAXES TOO!!!. From the time I received my first active duty pay until my most recent retired pay I, like countless others, have been subject to taxation both federal and state. So to the haters, get your facts straight.

  • Russell

    Amy YOU are my Hero! I am a Retired Air Force SMSgt E-8 and totally relate to every word you put to the moron with the ignorance to complain about military pay and benefits. To achieve the Senior Enlisted grades you have to work your butt off and comply with PME so education in the military starts either in high school, college and basic and doesn’t end until you either separate or retire from the military. I think if you put together any college credits and all the PME you do in the military you would probably have the equivalent to a Masters degree. The last point is any Commissioned Officer must have at least a BA to get a commission then either have or accomplish a MS to get promoted past Captain or Major, not to mention War College.

  • Heisenberg Cartel

    First of all, if you are a military spouse, I have news for you: YOU ARE A CIVILIAN. I, a military member, can talk about others joining “us”. Not you. You are not “us”. You do not wear your spouse’s rank. If you want to talk about “us”, go to the nearest recruiter’s office and see yourself off to basic training in the branch of your choice.

    Second, this is America, land of the (allegedly) free. If people want to question our pay and benefits, let them question, and instead of calling them haters and condescending them, let’s answer them. Civilians are whose freedom we fight for, so let them have a voice, whether it’s for our benefits or against our benefits.

    Third, the military is known for wasting money, nepotism and cronyism when it comes to spending money and contracting. Let the military be questioned. The military SHOULD be questioned. I, as (once again) a member of the military that you are married into, can handle it.

    • ya know what, Heisenberg Cartel? I am a retired veteran AND and active duty Army wife, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t trade either aspect of my life for anything else, but I can also tell you that life as an Army spouse is no cake-walk. Let me spell it out for you:
      as a soldier, I had the LUXURY of focusing ONLY on my job-nothing else. Not one bit of other complexities in life had to bother me. As an Army wife to a soldier who has spent most of the past 11 years gone, I can tell you that some days I would rather be in uniform-because life is incredibly more simplistic. Life outside the uniform, waiting for your soldier, raising children, balancing life in addition to the job, school, doctors, household needs, is extremely more complex. Juggling multiple aspects of life is incredibly more complicated than having the ability to focus EXCLUSIVELY on your job. I can’t even believe you posted this asinine rant. I can trump you -people belittle the reserve components, but, alas, I have served there too! There’s where the TRUE effort is. Reserve and Guard service members, especially in the past decade, have had to juggle civilian lives and obligations and families with active duty deployments and obligations. Your asinine post proves that you are not capable of more than your minute life, your narrow-minded perceptions of life. Most of all, I cannot believe that you would degrade spouses, because if it were not for the fact that WE (I am a SOLDIER AND AN ARMY SPOUSE) are holding down the fort and doing this juggling act so that imbiciles like you can focus EXCLUSIVELY on your career, you would NOT be as successful. This land of the free is supported by MILITARY SPOUSES who support their service members in ways that no words can truly articulate. So before you decide to blast MILITARY SPOUSES, a position YOU have OBVIOUSLY NEVER HELD…don’t criticize those whose shoes YOU HAVE NEVER WALKED IN.

      Yes, the military does waste, as do the politicians who run this country. That is a separate issue from the focus of this well-stated column.

  • Wanda Kubat-Nerdin

    Amy, Your posts are riveting and so very honest. Thank you for that. I am the wife of a retired military man, a daughter of a retired military father, sister of military siblings and a mother of a son who is in the Navy and 3,000+ miles from home and proudly serving. Civilians have no idea of the military way of life and often take their lives and jobs for granted.

  • Lucinda E. barfield

    You go Amy! Those who have never served for whatever reason have no mechanism for understanding military life or the sacrifices made by our military families. Yes, I said families because every action required by our soldiers, seamen and airmen affects the family dynamic in tremendous ways. Nothing, including benefits can make up for the loss of life, missing body parts, ailments (both physical and mental) or lack of support from the country served. Haters need to get a life!

  • Stephen Thomas

    I am US Army retired (Infantry) (TET 1968-1969) I served because I love my country ,its way of life, and its down home folks. I don’t care how much you give some one in money and benefits it will never cover being called out of your warm bed at 1AM and leaving your family . You end up on some cold air strip not knowing where you are going . Some of us DIE !!! Is the benefits to much for someone to be shot at ?? This is while the bitchers and complainers lay at home in there warm beds not worrying about anything. And for your info, Mr. Sadam had ALL kind of weapons and was inquiring about nuclear war heads. I AM PROOD TO BE AN AMERICAN. A great song writer song : If you don’t love it leave it!!!!

  • ya know what, Heisenberg Cartel? I am a retired veteran AND and active duty Army wife, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that you are an @$$hole. I wouldn’t trade either aspect of my life for anything else, but I can tell you that my life as an Army spouse is no cake-walk. Let me spell it out for you:
    as a soldier, I had the LUXURY of focusing ONLY on my job-nothing else. Not one bit of other complexities in life had to bother me. As an Army wife to a soldier who has spent most of the past 11 years gone, I can tell you that some days I would rather be in uniform-because life is incredibly more simplistic. Life outside the uniform, waiting for your soldier, raising children, balancing life in addition to the job, school, doctors, household needs, is extremely more complex. Juggling multiple aspects of life is incredibly more complicated than having the ability to focus EXCLUSIVELY on your job. Really? I can’t even believe you posted this jack-asinine post. I can trump you -people think belittle the reserve components, but, alas, I have served there too! I would NEVER do that again! There’s where the TRUE effort is. Reserve and Guard service members, especially in the past decade, have had to juggle civilian lives and obligations and families with active duty deployments and obligations. Your asinine post proves that you are not capable of more than your minute life, your narrow-minded perceptions of life. Most of all, I cannot believe that you would degrade spouses, because if it were not for the fact that WE (I am a SOLDIER AND AN ARMY SPOUSE) are holding down the fort and doing this juggling act so that imbiciles like you can focus EXCLUSIVELY on your career, you would NOT be as successful. This land of the free is supported by MILITARY SPOUSES who support their service members in ways that no words can truly articulate. So before you decide to blast MILITARY SPOUSES, a position YOU have OBVIOUSLY NEVER HELD, don’t presume to criticize those whose shoes YOU HAVE NEVER WALKED IN.

    Yes, the military does waste, as do the politicians who run this country. That is a separate issue from the focus of this well-stated column.

  • Steve

    I joined the army and went to Vietnam willingly to help. I would like to thank all the people
    who spat on me as I walked through the airport in California while in my army uniform.

    A special thanks to all those perverted leering female clerks, especially the two wearing
    the blue Jean jackets while we recieved a nude medical exam at afees,ft Knox Kentucky.

    For i realized that the real enemy is in America, not in some little poor southeast Asian
    country.

  • Rex Molder

    “We gave you those,” and you were doing such a good job!