Thursday, December 26, 2013

Clearing Things up with a Few Facts #2

I took a nice break yesterday and enjoyed my family. I woke up this morning and yep, I am still mad over this article and it's lack of research before publishing. Here's the article again.

Let's return to this paragraph to examine it again. "For example, an Army private with fewer than two years of service and no dependents earns on average about $40,400 annually, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman. About two-thirds of that is base pay and the rest a housing allowance and a food allowance, with no taxes paid on the two allowances. An Army captain with six years of service and no dependents averages $93,800 annually." But now let's look at the Army Captain.

By visiting this link, you will see the Captain is an O-3. Now let's look up the example, an O-3 with 6 years of service. You'll see he would make $5,415 per month. Now let's look at his BAH (Housing allowance). I used Ft Campbell's zip code of 42223 for my search and I got $1338. Remember he has no dependents. Now we look at his BAS (food allowance). You'll see the Captain is given $242.60.

Let's run the math....(Base pay + BAH + BAS = monthly pay) $5415 + $1338 + $242.60 = $6995.60 or $83,947.20. Remember 2/3 of that original figure was base pay. I got $61,908 when I ran the LT Commander's math. ($93,800 x .66). When I multiplied $5,415 by 12 I got $64,980.

Well once again I did not get the same figures listed in the article. Weird huh?! Yes I am still so very confused by the math mentioned in this article, but oh well, I guess looking up little things like pay and allowance charts were not as important to the author as they are to me. I do see that he says that the service member averages these salaries, but I am still not seeing where the numbers are coming from with those three figures. Moving on.....

Let's talk about the Captain and how he made it to Captain. I am going to focus on the Army Infantry Captains simply because I have the most experience with them. These men have gone to college and have agreed to lead our Army after graduation. Unlike the civilian work force where they could have gone, they have signed on the line and agreed to risk their lives for our country. Let's chat about how they became Captains.

First they were First Lieutenants. They were tasked out to lead a group of men into battle. The majority of these men he is expected to lead have more line time than the LT will ever see. He has to step in this leadership role fresh out of college and his OBC (Officer's Basic Course a specialty training school). Some of his men have already been deployed multiple times and he is expected to lead them. Think about how hard that must be. You have been hitting the books for years, while these guys are dodging bullets and IEDs. You know that the day you show up at the Platoon, the guys are sizing you up. I can only imagine the level of confidence you have to have to step into the LT's role.

The LT has to go in, build up their trust in him before they deploy together. He needs that trust because he could die or be blown up just as easily as the rest of his platoon could. A enemy sniper would love to take out the LT and he knows this. He must get onto his platoon's mental level to become a part of the brotherhood. Once he gets to that point, the bonds will last a lifetime. True brotherhood knows no rank. He will hit the dirt with these guys and he will embrace the same suck. They will bond with him simply because he is there in the suck with him. Then as the battles and maneuvers present themselves, they will develop a real team and that respect will be built on the experiences they have together.

He will watch men die beside him at the ages of 18-21. These were the ages when he was doing keg stands at the Frat house. He'll develop an immense amount of respect for these patriots and he will be honored when they recognize him as a brother in their own special chapter of the Army fraternity. He will mourn the losses of their brothers and he will also carry the memories in his heart like his new brothers will.

After that now Captain has been a successful LT, he'll eventually get to be the XO (executive officer) of the company. This job is a ton of fun (note this is sarcasm). Everything that rolls up and down will land on him. He is now in a different kind of suck. He will be the first into the company in the morning and he will not even think about leaving until everyone higher than him leaves for the day. He will get tasked out with every crappy job that the Commander can't or doesn't want to do and he will fix what need to be fixed because one day he thinks he wants to be that Commander. He will work himself as hard as possible for the sheer possibility of hitting the Captain rank.

If he is lucky, he has found a very understanding girlfriend that will understand why he is doing what he is doing and she will love him through it. But more than likely at this point he has given up on a serious relationship for a bit. He tried to hold on to that college romance, but she got tired of the military. He's tried to date, but he's just not had any luck. He is currently married to the Army and right now he's ok with that. But everyday he is thinking, should I just put in my 4-5 years and walk away? Do I really want this life?

One magical day the news comes that he has made it to Captain. Oh what a glorious day, right?! Of course because that promotion came with extra money, but oh did it come with a ton of responsibility. But someone, somewhere decided he is commander material and he is going to stand up and take it on.

Now instead of being in charge of the Platoon, he is taking on the whole company. Here's what that means in numbers He just quadrupled the amount of men he is responsible for. Quadrupled with in less than 6 years? Does that even exist in the civilian world? I doubt it.

Now not only does he have to deal with the soldiers, but he must also deal with the crazy wives and mothers. The ones who decide he is working their Infantryman too much. The ones who say that going to NTC and JRTC (more training that is necessary prior to deployments) is too much. He has guys who come in having to declare bankruptcy because they trusted their wives to manage their funds and they did anything but. He then finds out three of his guys were in a bar fight and another one got a DUI over the weekend. Someone needs to go pick them up. He sometimes feels like a babysitter.

And sometimes he thinks, "This is a promotion?" He hands off as much as possible to the XO, but he still has all the Army administration stuff to deal with and only he can do it. Then the orders arrived. He has to get his company ready for deployment in just a few months.

They deploy and he has the job of deciding who goes where. He has to rely on the reports of other leaders for him to relay his orders. Is he making the right decisions? He argues with higher command for what his platoons need. Sometimes the fight is easy. Sometimes he thinks his command structure needs to spend a day being an LT again because they have lost touch with where they came from. It's so stressful. He's losing guys left and right and begging for replacements and sometimes they come and sometimes they don't.

But hey he makes $93,800 per year? That makes all of it worth it, right?! He's deployed for a year, he won't take R&R because he would rather make sure all of his men go. Besides he doesn't have a family to go home to because he married the Army. If he went to his parents, his mom would just cry when it was time to go and he can't put her through that again. He just sat down to drink some coffee and decides to calculate his hourly wage since everyone else has. $93,800 (Yes, I am using the articles' numbers) divided by 8760 (the numbers of hours in a year). He makes $10.71 per hour. I guess that makes it all worth it?

His break was interrupted to find out one of his favorite NCOs (Non-commissioned Officer) is now a double amputee thanks to an IED. The soldiers with him don't know if he'll make it, but they are getting him on the bird. By the time he gets there, the NCO will be airborne, so he just waits.

He calls the NCO's wife later that day looking for an update to relay back to the guys because no one will tell them anything. The NCO is stable but has a long road. He fights back the tears while talking to his friend's wife because people can see him. He just lost a great NCO and who is going to replace him and inspire the men in the same way. Why did I send him there? This NCO has kids and now his life is in ruins. This is all my fault he thinks to himself. And when he finally gets to sleep he can't, because guilt has filled his heart. He will cry himself to sleep tonight when sleep finally comes for him.

How's that $93,800 per year looking now? This Captain could walk away and take a nice cushy job in the civilian sector. He could finally always have a nice warm bed to sleep in and always have what he wants to eat. He could finally calm his mother's worries and maybe even find a girlfriend. But no instead he signs on for a few more years of service to our nation. And yes he knows that some days he only makes $10.71 per hour, but the brotherhood wants him to stay and he loves his men.

Can we really say he makes too much? Can you look the Captain in the face and tell him he's not worth that amount of money? The Captains we have in our family's life have served and sacrificed way more than this short story I shared with you. The give their hearts for their men and our nation and it's time to talk about more than the money they make. It's time to start talking about what they do everyday. Again I understand and agree cuts have to be made, but our service member's pay is not where we should be looking. They earn every penny of that $10.71 or less per hour. Let me assure you, I do not know one service member who joined just for the money!

1 comment:

  1. May your roots go down deep into the Lord and His Word. Praying right now!!!!!
    Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
    My email address