This article just got my blood boiling yesterday. http://news.yahoo.com/military-pension-cuts-now-unsure-122851079.html Ladies and gentlemen, enough is enough. I understand cuts must be made, but presenting the argument that our military are a group of entitled know-nothings or that they are over paid is the wrong way to go about it. You want to cut things lets looks at things other than benefits and pay for our servicemembers.
I have prepared income taxes since 2001. I currently manage 125 clients and 85% are active duty or retired military. I know a little bit about their income and entitlements. Oh and there's the fact I've been with Chaz since 1999. I guess you can say I am a subject matter expert.
My first problem with the article was found here."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" I have so many problems with this article, I'll just cover them one blog at a time.
I assume what the Lt. Commander is saying is when these two examples are deployed, they recieve those salaries. At least I hope that's where his numbers came from. I did my homework and want to share my discoveries with you. You'll find them interesting.
I looked at the 2014 military pay chart and you can too. http://www.militaryfactory.com/military_pay_scale.asp That Army Private previously mentioned makes a base pay of $1532 per month or $18384 annually. In his statement, the Lt Commander also stated the Private's $40,400 was 2/3 base pay. Well I multiplied $40,400 times .66 (decimal representation of 2/3rd) and I got $26,664. His numbers are a bit off from mine. I am assuming he didn't pull the pay chart.
I also looked up that Private's BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) rates. http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm I got $921 for this Private's BAH with no dependents at Ft Campbell. But wait, he's a private with no dependents, he won't be seeing that money because he'll be living in the barracks and the Army will be charging him for that.
I also pulled the BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) rates http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/allowances/basic-allowance-for-subsistence.html It states the enlisted receive $352.27 per month. But wait....he's a Private with less than two years in with no dependents. That means he'll live on post and have a meal card. That also means some if not all of his BAS will be given back to the military to cover his meals. So you mean that private doesn't make $40,400 per year....NO, not even close with the scenario suggested.
Even if the Private was receiving all the pays mentioned it does not add up to $40,400. Here we go (Base pay + BAH + BAS = total monthly income) $1532 + $921 + $357.27= $2810.27. Multiple that times 12 you get $33723.24. I am seriously scratching my head. Where in the world is this $40,400 coming from?
But let's give the Lt. Commander the benefit of the doubt. Let's say his numbers are right and mine are wrong and so are the charts. Let's look at that $40,400. Let's deploy this 18-20 year old young man. He probably joined the service right out of high school. He's probably infantry since that is the "needs of the Army" right now. So let's train him and throw him in the suck. He's working for our tax dollars 24/7 with a 2 week R&R. So let's look at those numbers.
He works 351 days or a total of 8424 hours (351 x 24) during that deployment. He gets those 2 weeks off for R&R. Take this mythical $40,400 salary and divide it and you'll find our private only makes $4.80 per hour. And remember, I showed you that the $40,400 is not his correct salary.
So let's go to the real numbers. He makes $1532 per month. No BAH and we'll give him his BAS for the deployment scenario. Let's add his combat incentive pay of $225 per month, but wait it could only be $7.50 per day, we'll give him the $225 anyway. (Read more here. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/2012MilPay/a/2012idp.htm)And he might get hardship pay of $100 per month for being in Afghanistan. (Read more here. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/fy2005paycharts/a/hardshippay.htm). So let's look at that. $1532 + $327.27 + $225 + $100 = $2184.27 per month or $26211.24 annually. Or our Private is making $3.11 per hour during deployment.
Both of my numbers are high for their hourly wage because I didn't subtract their 2 weeks R&R with their families. Oh wait they changed the game, I forgot our guys are deployed for 9 months with no R&R now. Something tells me you still get the point I am making...Our enlisted service members are making well below minimum wage.
Then let's think for a bit. That private is away from all of his loved ones for a year. He's being shot at daily. His new friends die in front and beside him. He has to carry their bodies away to make sure his new friends make it home to their families for their burial. He has to eat and thrive off of MREs. He carries at 30lb ruck (at minimum) every where he goes. But wait this article states he is so well paid for it.....if that's the case why are so many military families on WIC? Here's why http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-income-eligibility-guidelines-2013-2014. When we were pregnant with our now 11 year old, Chaz was an E4 and we fully qualified for WIC. An E4 today in our 11 years prior situation would still qualify for WIC. SERIOUSLY!!!! It's been 11 years and now you are saying they make too much?!
When Chaz was in Iraq in 2005-6 my friends and I figured out that the guys made $2.19 per hour then. They lost over 30 friends and went through Hell. Our marriage went through Hell. Our 4 year old got to learn about PTSD then. 2006 was when our marriage was put to the absolute breaking point. And guess what our issues that we had in 2006 still thrive today in military households everywhere. But I guess the Pentagon's top civilian is correct tough decisions like pay cuts need to be made.
We need to bridge the civilian-military divide. We need to educate the civilian population with facts on what our military does for them. We do not need to portray them in a negative way. And I have a few questions to ask this reporter who makes it sound like the military is so glamorous. We'll leave that for another blog....But I ask you this....where the heck is that $40,400 coming from? This tax advisor is stumped.....