Lifestyles of the Rich and Camouflaged

David Wood wrote an article earlier this year for Huffington Post, titled Defense Budget Faces Cuts To Personnel After Decade of War. He begins with “For more than a decade, Congress and the Pentagon have lavished money on the nation’s 1.3 million active-duty troops and their families. Salaries and benefits soared far above civilian compensation, military bases and housing were refurbished, support services like day care, family counseling and on-base college courses were expanded.

Look, there is no denying that our economy is a mess. Playing the blame game is just a distraction from the dire situation that very few of our government representatives, if any, truly understand. However, I would just like to clarify some misleading points made by Mr. Wood in his article. This does not mean that I think our Department of Defense budget doesn’t need reform, nor does it mean that I am not in support of military and other government cuts. But I believe my experience as a military spouse has offered me insight that Mr. Wood could have benefited from in his article.

Your Bathtub is Just Porcelain? Ha. Mine is Plated in Gold.

For example, please note that the money Congress and the Pentagon has so-called lavished upon active duty families has not resulted in the majority of us living lavish lifestyles beyond our civilian counterparts. While the highest of ranking Generals typically have amenities such as personal chefs and housekeepers, this is not representative of the military as a whole. At all. Mr. Wood references daycare without mentioning that we still pay for such service on a sliding scale according to income – no different than other non-military government-funded childcare programs. Now some military families with a deployed service-member may qualify for 4 to 6 hours of free childcare per month but this is not what many would consider a lavish luxury.

“You Get a House! You Get a House! And You Get a House!

Mr. Wood also remarks about military housing renovations and new construction. What he fails to mention is that the majority of renovated housing did not meet current housing standards prior to said renovations. Additionally, the amount of new military housing construction doesn’t even begin to meet the needs of the military, which results in off-post housing privileges and the basic allowance for housing (BAH). And let’s not even discuss in detail the horrific amounts of asbestos being discovered in military office buildings, housing, and other dwellings in need of renovation – perhaps Mr. Wood would rather the government spend money on settling mesothelioma lawsuits instead?

Mr. Wood states, “Currently, the Pentagon pays all housing costs for families who live off base.” No, Mr. Wood. That is incorrect. The Pentagon gives us a housing allowance and it is on us to budget the money accordingly. However, if Mr. Wood is implying that the Pentagon is willing to cover our rent, renters insurance, electric bill, gas bill, water bill, and other miscellaneous fees, I would greatly appreciate it if Mr. Wood (or any of his obviously many fact checkers) could pass along the contact information for the Pentagon representative you consulted for this article. Thank you!

Mental Health Services

Let’s move on the family counseling. Yes, the Department of Defense created Military One Source as a service to families and one of the programs available is counseling. It is important to understand that such programs were created to address issues that arose as a direct result of fighting a two-front war for multiple years. Suicide rates among Army soldiers is up 80% and last year, the Huffington Post even featured an article that urged the United States to stand up against military suicides. It is no secret that the mishandling of our Vietnam veterans help contribute to the mental health crisis that exists in our country today. We’ve vowed not to make the same mistake with our current batch of combat veterans. Mr. Wood may consider providing free or discounted counseling services to combat veterans and their families as lavish, but I consider it necessary. After all, from a pure economic perspective, doesn’t it make more sense to provide mental health services to combat veterans now, rather than later deal with the costs associated with ignoring the problem?

Money, Money, Money

The article also provides numbers in regards to pay. In full disclosure, my husband is a field-grade officer. His paycheck ensures we live a comfortable lifestyle that is on par with our middle-class counterparts. We both have endured undergraduate and graduate school. Like our civilian counterparts with similar education levels, we squirrel away money toward our individual retirement accounts, we save up for vacations, contribute to college funds, and we even use a 20% off coupon when we visit Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We’re not rich because of the military.

There are some gross errors in the calculations provided by Mr. Wood regarding military pay. For example, he writes that the average officer pay is $94,700 in basic pay and housing. It is important to note that Mr. Wood is counting all officer ranks in his calculation, including Generals. So of course, the pay is going to be elevated. It would be no different than including the CEO, CFO, Senior VPs, etc… into the low, mid, and high-level management salaries of a private sector company. Furthermore, BAH is determined by location. A service member stationed in Oklahoma is going to receive less money for housing than a service member of the same rank stationed in New York City. Therefore, factoring BAH into average military pay will likely distort the true answer.

I understand that some people may take issue with the amount of money the military is paid. Just as tax dollars are used to pay Congress and other government officials, military pay (freely available online for the public to lookup) is subject to scrutiny from tax payers. Any military family will tell you that it is not a lifestyle one chooses to become rich. If our ultimate goal was to make as much money as we could, my husband would have left the Army as soon as his initial commitment was up. The hours are long, the separations are brutal, and the constant moving around often causes the spouse’s career to take a backseat, resulting in a diminished earning potential. Personally, I believe my husband is adequately compensated for the responsibilities and pressures associated with his job, especially when free healthcare and retirement benefits are factored in. But please do not confuse adequate compensation with the two of us throwing money in the air while cackling at the notion of taxpayers funding our lavish lifestyle.

Other Points

  • Mr. Wood writes, “A brigadier (one-star) general at Fort Drum, with 16 years of service, is earning $131,652 a year plus a housing allowance of $2,247 per month.” Seriously?!? Mr. Wood, if you can introduce me to an active Brigadier General with only 16 years of service (i.e. not a Civil War General), I will eat a combat boot of my husband’s from his last deployment to Afghanistan.
  • Mr. Wood states, “Other benefits include shopping at on-base commissaries, which typically save military shoppers about 30 percent on groceries.”  Ha. I’d like to see those numbers, Mr. Wood. Sadly, there are no such sources linked or referenced.

Reform is Necessary

It is obvious that our Defense budget is not sustainable. Tough decisions lie ahead. Military cuts are inevitable. My purpose for this blog post was to clarify the misrepresentations within the said article. I gladly encourage discussion about military healthcare reform, retirement benefit reform, and a plethora of other topics surrounding the national budget crisis we’re facing. But I refuse to do so with gross misrepresentations of a lifestyle that Mr. Wood clearly does not understand.

Note: I appreciate all of the responses. Today, I wrote a little more on the subject. Also, check out Sequester and the Military Family by Bridget and The Most Lavish Benefit of All by Jill. Thank you for reading!

____

March 14th UPDATE – For those interested in commenting and contributing to the conversation, I request that you refrain from engaging in personal attacks against other commenters and referring to people (including our POTUS, David Woods, Democrats, Republicans, Federalists, Libertarians, Whigs, etc…) as idiots or other derogatory terms.

Because of this, I feel the need to state that the views represented in the comment section do not represent the views of myself, my husband, my three-year-old, my dog, or even our cat (who is quite the asshole).

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241 thoughts on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Camouflaged

  1. Karen, thanks for your insight on this article. As in most things (printed or oral) one must ferret out the truth from the mistruths.
    As to your reference to the Viet Nam vets: this is an issue that your uncle Danny struggles with. He is still bitter(after leaving the Navy in 1970) about the treatment he and the other vets were given. The state of Michigan paid him the same “return home” bonus as those that never set foot on or near Vietnam. I am so heartened to hear people “thank” those in uniform for their service-something that each and everyone of us should be proud of.

  2. Absolutely correct, you do not join the military to be rich. And all those moves! Officers especially are moved around all over the country (or the world for that matter) and the relocation pay doesn’t come near to what it takes to finance a move into a new home. Good job in pointing out the obvious errors in this erroneous article. – From a retired Navy Commander.

    1. I have to say that to come up with an average you do have to include General and Flag officers in the calculation. However, just to see where that number came from, I took the 2013 pay chart and entered in every base pay amount for every officer grade for every length of service and then averaged that. This came up to $84324.19. Do the same type thing with non-locality BAH and you probably would come up with $94,000. The problem is that this is not an average of what officers make. Those pay charts cover every eventuality, some of which cannot happen (e.g., O4 over 22 to over 28), and no weighting was done for the number of officers in each paygrade. Since there are many more O1’s and O2’s than O10’s, the actual average likely is much closer to an O3 over 6 or 8 ($60,000 – $68,000 base pay). On the other hand, I work at a tech company, where all the computer professionals have at least an undergrad degree, and an E6 over 8 stationed at Kings Bay, GA receiving sea pay, sub pay and BAH w/dependents has a take home pay as high as many of the people at the tech company with 10-15 years of service. So there is some validity to the argument that the military is making a living wage.

      1. SOME of the military is making a living wage would be the correct response. It’s obvious she understands averages, so why you explained it I’m not really sure.

      2. This piece of “journalism” by David Wood wasn’t arguing that the military makes a living wage. He argued that they are paid lavishly. There is nothing lavish about military pay. Perhaps there should be though. Do you and your fellow computer professionals regularly risk your limbs and life while being away from your family for extended periods of time so that this country can be free? When home they are working 12 hour days, at least, without extra compensation for that time above an 8 hour day. How many hours a day do your computer professionals work? I feel like it is very misleading to compare military jobs with those in the civilian sector. While technically a job might be the same, there are so many other factors that are completely different. There is no such thing as overtime, you can’t decline to come in on the weekend or stay late for an exercise (or two weeks for field exercises). Walk a day or a year deployed in the boots of a soldier and then come back and compare civilian jobs to the military and tell us that we have a living wage, which is not the same as adequate compensation.

      3. To rerach the rank of E-6 typically takes 12-15 years… the numbers on the pay chart are often there to cover any anomily in the ability to “make rank.” But personally, I have never met someone that acheived E-6 that quickly. I do know an E-7 that has served for 16 years… and spent half of his career overseas, working 18 hour days, some living on a ship… I don’t think you can compare working at a tech company with an undergrad degree to working in a combat situation for 24 hour days for 10 months, or under the ocean for 24 hour days for 7 months, as being equivalent. To recieve sea pay or sub pay, you have to have a certain amount of qualifying years at sea, and you only receive that pay while underway… same with combat pay… it’s not just added to your check forever once you’ve been to combat or to sea. So some guy sitting behind a computer at King’s Bay isn’t making sea or sub pay… not until he leaves and gets his reduction in comrats (food) and other associated pays. If he is single and lives in the barracks, he gets no BAH – just a free room… he still pays for TV, phone, etc… you simply can’t compare military to their counterparts in the civilian sector.

      4. Slight footnote here- You can be 04 and 22+yrs service..plenty of prior enlisted are. My husband was this 3yrs ago. Now 04 over 25+…I don’t know…

      5. An E6 on a submarine would have special qualifications in nuclear engineering, among other things, and between 5-20 years of experience. He/she receives sub pay to sit in a windowless metal can underwater powered by a nuclear reactor, often carrying nuclear tipped missiles,for several months a year, sometimes in hostile and usually in sensitive geographic locations. How does that job description compare to your tech firm? Just saying, it ain’t the suburbs.

      6. true that E-6 might make more but he is risking his life in a sub under water and that is not the norm because a army tech is not in a sub nor is he on water where the boat might go under. but he is in Afgan. being shot at or having mortars lobed at him so he should be getting paid more than that tech that is setting behind a computer for 8hrs instead of 14-16hrs because if that tech set behind the chair for that long he would be getting paid overtime oh by the way the military doesn’t get.

      7. Ok yes but what are those doing to receive the extra pay that you are talking about. Are your tech people doing the equivalent?

      8. From the first Anonymous – I don’t know why it didn’t take my name. Most of you seem to miss the points I was making in that the average wage for officers that David Wood quoted was based on invalid statistics. Being a computer tech, I’m a bit of a geek so I actually applied realistic numbers to the distributions this evening. The average annual base pay for Army officers is about $66,000 (give or take some outlyers) and there’s no way that BAH makes up another almost $30,000.

        On the enlisted side, I actually was using numbers based on my own career progression. I had looked up E6 over 8 because that is what I separated at (having been there for four years). I included sub pay and sea pay because that is what I was eligible for. I was not a nuclear engineer. In fact, I was a high school dropout. My only special training was six weeks at submarine school. So, nothing special about me. Yes, I did deploy and spend months at a time under water. I was shot at by ships from multiple countries so I do understand putting my life on the line. However, I will note that now, having obtained a LOT of college and working in my career field for a long time, I am making very good money but my take home pay is about $400 less than if I were allowed to step right back into the Navy at exactly the same point that I left. With that good salary, I am having to self-fund my retirement. Honestly, the money is good enough in the military that I would go right back onto submarines if that opportunity were offered to me, even at my advanced age.

        So, yes, I feel that most military members make a living wage, especially when the minimum educational requirements are factored in. $1497 a month, as an E-1 < 2, is not a lot of money overall but add in free housing, food, medical and a funded retirement (albeit requiring a minimum of 20 years to receive anything) and that makes the $1497 worth a heck of a lot more. Yes, deployments, war zones and frequent moves are a hardship, of which I am well aware, but it's still a living wage –not lavish, which David Woods was trying to make us believe, but still decent for a high school grad.

      9. To the first Anonymous, some of your calculating is inaccurate too. I’m an O-4 over 26. It wouldn’t be in the pay chart, if it wasn’t possible.

      10. for YN1 Mike

        I don’t know when you were in, but Nuke School on the enlisted side is much longer now. They go through 3-6 months of A-school, 6 months at NNPTC learning theory in engineering and Physics, and 6 months at Prototype practicing on a nuclear reactor.

      11. Here is the difference Anonymous – not everyone gets specialty pays (jump, hazard pay, sea pay etc), Also does your job take you away for 24 months give or take in a row with out your family? In operations do you get only four hours a sleep daily, eat food out of a bag, only get showers every third day, and face the threat of being shot or blown up? just wondering…because that is what my husband gets paid for. He gets to miss time with his family, even when he is home he leaves the house at 430 am and gets home around 930 at night ..this is pretty much three – four times a week. He gets calls all hours of the nights, has to go in to get his soldiers, write SIR that are due NLT then two hours after it gets called in to his boss..it doesn’t matter if it is 2 in the morning or if he was at his son’s birthday party. He has gotten his masters while being deployed pretty much 10 years of our 14 year marriage…so please there is noooo validity to Mr Woods arguements. If your going to take the average then you only take the pay.. you don’t count bonuses and amounts that not everyone gets. You also can’t compare us to the civilian world that can quite any time they want, if you get introuble with police, counseling, etc..a civilian corporation can blow it off with that is your problem…in the Military it is everyones problem. Some peole stay the same rank for years and years…They also don’t get pay bonuses…so please …I work with civilian engineers who graduate with only a BS and make 70000 right out the gate…I have a masters..and make half that…soooo get your facts right…or we need to average all civilian people by Trump and Angelina Jolie’s pay and their life style right… smh…It must be great to live under the blanket of freedom my husband and other military members provide and pick their life apart from a cushy office, bathroom facilities, and shower… 😦

  3. How can he say this when the enlisted qualify for food stamps and Lts. When it comes to housing— Army was substandard!! At Ft. Knox- since we were above the Mason Dixie line– there was no air in the houses!! Try spending a summer in Ky. with no air conditioning. In Germany – as a Capt. – we lived in stairwell apartments. Even the light Birds! It was according to the number of children and sex of children to determine the size of apartment and bedrooms. Had an Air Force family above us and they were paid extra for the “substandard housing”. You really couldn’t buy a house since you would be there 6 months or the longest 3 years.
    Medical?? You got who was there on call! If you didn’t like the person – TB!!
    My 18 mth. old baby had a seizure and it took 4 hours & 3 Drs. later to give her a spinal tap which they couldn’t use because of too much blood in the fluid. Be ready to spend the afternoon in the office — they get to you when they get to you!!
    We made the most while military- but couldn’t believe what it was like when we got out into the real world!! was a wonderful experience – but not made for the wimps.
    It’s government and you had to put up with a lot of crap.

    1. It might have been true once upon a time (though I really do not know), but the AF getting extra pay for substandard housing is, at this point in time, an urban myth. We get COLA just like everyone else if it applies, and that is it. In our 20 years of AD AF service I have never know that to be true, and we have been stationed at three Army bases (or should I say posts) as AD AF. The other myth I hear all the time is that the government buys our houses from us when we move. I have argued that point with many, many different people who insist it is true (and this was before HAP, which I suppose some might misinterpret as the government buying our houses). I WISH, and if it’s true how did I miss that when selling my two houses, or the one I can’t sell because I’d lose $50,000+? While some people have made a bundle on the housing market, more of us are upside down on our houses.

      1. We were Army, stationed in Heidelberg, W. Germany in the 80s. LOVED it in Germany and loved the experience. Not a myth- a fact! AF received an allowance for the substandard housing. Maybe not now- but they did in the 80s and 90s. Our stairwell apartment would all cook out together – when we weren’t traveling – on the weekends and share and compare!! Many times we’ve talked about the chance of doing it again — Hubby would go with the AF or Navy! They take better care of their people!

      2. This is not an urban myth, at all! When the Air Force had to visit Ft. Stewart for one month, they lived in the same barracks that I lived in (black mold and all that good stuff). The air force guys ABSOLUTELY got the substandard living pay, any attempt to say this does not happen is patently false. I have seen it with my own eyes, as have the rest of 3rd ID in Ft Stewart. Open your eyes, man!

      3. S. Korea 2001-2005, Yongsan, south post, same rank: our AF counterparts received extra pay to live in substandard Army housing (and this was on the nicer end of on post housing). Not an urban myth.

    2. Again, an argument from emotion and anecdotal statements. Not fact based at all. If so publish the facts. Give actual numbers. While an E-1 to E-4 in some cases may qualify (depends on the specific circumstances); no LT (O-2) gets food stamps or WIC. Basic pay and benefits are to high.

  4. I arrived as a friend of Jackie’s. I know nothing about being a military spouse – but I’ve read enough to be informed about the sacrifices made by the soldiers and their families. As a middle-class taxpayer, I’d welcome my tax dollars going towards MORE services for military families. It would be an easier pill to swallow to see any serviceperson and his/her family live the high life from service to their country….as opposed to the shady bankers and tax thieves that manage to make millions illegally through financial schemes. For a group of people who give ALL to their country, I frankly think there isn’t enough money in the world to compensate them for their sacrifices. Thank you, Karen, to you, your husband and family, for all you do to make our country a better place to live. This is great information.

  5. Great article, and so true. I hope you post your article in the comments section of Mr. Woodward’s article–he needs to read this.

  6. “But please do not confuse adequate compensation with the two of us throwing money in the air while cackling at the notion of taxpayers funding our lavish lifestyle.”

    Loved that line. As the spouse of an AF 0-4, I applaud you for hitting some major discrepancies in the author’s, er, “fact” checking. I would love for him to come experience this “lavish lifestyle” that the majority of military families lead: as my husband was prior service I have experienced the enlisted (Army) and officer (AF) way of life, and it’s not for the feint of heart, or pocketbook.

  7. this is much more eloquent and well reasoned than my response to this fool. And much less swearing, too! Grew up in a military town (Colo Springs) and have been a military spouse for 11 years. Thanks so much for writing this!

  8. Karen – thanks for your willingness to speak up for the silent among us. I am an Air Force spouse and a fellow Clemson grad… you have done us all proud.

  9. Introduce me to that general, and I’ll eat your husband’s other boot! 16 years?? Hah! My husband has 18.5 years in, and has worked his butt off for every single minute of it! (and I have worked mine off for the 13.5 years we’ve been married) I really appreciate you writing this article and I hope loads and loads and loads of non-military people read it. Everyone needs to know that writers for the Huffington Post are not always well-informed.

  10. Well, it has been a long long time since I was in the Army but never once did I run into an overcompensated soldier or a soldier’s wife living in the lap of luxury. Most lived from paycheck to paycheck and the sole benefit of combat was the little bit extra known as “combat pay”. What a pinhead. Mr. Wood needs to enlist for four years. I bet then he would write another story. Thank YOU for you and your husband’s service Ms. Karen.

  11. You truly nailed it, Karen!

    Thanks for saying what I felt when I read this a few days ago, but could not put into words so eloquently.

  12. Thank you for taking the time to write such a well stated response. As an Army wife of 14 years, this has obviously been quite the topic on several FB pages over the past few weeks. There are so many who believe we live a privileged lifestyle, it is infuriating!

  13. Thank you for setting the record straight! I’m a military spouse of a field grade officer as well, and I can assure you our lifestyle is secure (because of our personal choice to be fiscally responsible), but nowhere near lavish.

  14. I really wish I had known we were getting rich! Jeesh… I’ve been budgeting and stuff for no reason? Time to start livin’ large!

    Well spoken points. It’s hard when someone who is obviously, in no way, affiliated with the military writes a piece such as that one. It’s hard not to lash out and call them stupid and such. So, bravo! Great job.

  15. I know it’s been a long time ago, but when I was in the Navy, I drew just over $100 per month, while my wife with one child drew $210 per month. We did not receive on base housing & did not receive BAH. This was during the Viet Nam era. This was clearly a struggle and the reason I separated as soon as my enlistment was up.

  16. Good grief!! We are stationed in Okinawa Japan on an E-3 salary. We get one of the highest BAH allowances of all and we STILL definitely live paycheck to paycheck. Especially with the kids. This Mr. Wood fellow needs a reality check. I know my husband doesn’t make enough to compensate getting shot at. Maybe Mr. Wood should enlist his children and see how he feels when their sanity is gone or their lives.

  17. I like your post. Is the American public aware that military benefits are being stripped wholesale right now; however Congress and the President are getting nice raises during this sequester. The Congress so proud and brave in their recliners take with one hand from others, and gather great wealth, for themselves, with the other hand.

  18. Karen: I posted a brief comment last night when I first saw your article, but wanted to expand for a moment and thank you sincerely for writing this superb response. We live in and serve a country with countless virtues … but it also has some nasty habits. One of those is the tendency to forget its veterans and their families when the guns fall silent. It’ll take persistent effort to keep the narrative accurate and the image of the American veteran upheld as our nation retrenches, and your voice is an important one in that effort. On behalf of many veterans and families who have seen and been moved by your response to Mr. Wood, deepest appreciation. Keep up the good fight.

  19. Thanks so much for this post, Karen. Like most anyone with an ounce of familiarity with the military, I was disgusted by Mr. Wood’s article.

    My husband is an Air Force officer, and we live a comfortable lifestyle though far beyond that of our grad and professional school classmates. The sacrifices our family makes can never be repaid in money. That said, I think it’s reprehensible that military families are paid so poorly that there’s a WIC office on every base.

    And now I’m off to the lavish and glamorous and totally cheap commissary! Ha.

  20. It is very unfortunate that most people have horrible misconceptions about the amount of money a person in the military makes. There are many benefits, but there are a lot of unfortunate downsides as well. My husband has been in the Air Force for 11 years and we have spent 9 of those years overseas. Traveling home is expensive and difficult to arrange meaning I have family I have not seen in almost a decade. I have worked hard to go to school while working and taking care of the kids mostly on my own, as my husband would leave or work unpredictable hours. Now as I finish school, we have just moved to a new base overseas with about 10 civilian jobs, none in my career field and none available. With this impossibility for me to work, the idea that we could lose any money or benefits is frightening. We are grateful for a steady job and benefits, but it does not mean we don’t sacrifice for them.

  21. Karen, thank you for blogging about the issue. Some may say we military families are rich but they are gravely misled. We have to consider how to budget and save, just like everyone else. Our country is obviously in economic crisis, though the bottom hasn’t fallen out yet. They are pulling at straws and the military’s straw has been selected. Thank you for exposing the inaccuracies in this article and for your perspective in general. I enjoyed reading your blog and found your humor refreshing. You’re the kind of gal I could chit chat up over a cup of Joe. God bless. And for Debra Sines, here’s a tribute to “Uncle Danny”… http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=Ehbc1zU1BwQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DEhbc1zU1BwQ

    The Eagle Cried Vietnam Veterans Tribute by jezzon1

  22. Wow!! Brigadier General at 16 years?? My husband must be doing something wrong, 19 years in the Marines, more than half our married life (17 years) away from our children and I, and he is still only a Major!! Our life is far from lavish, maybe he has us confused with congress/senate/president! If military life is so lavish maybe Mr Wood should sign up!! I don’t know how Mr Wood is referred to as a Journalist, seems a fictional writer would be a more appropriate title for him, as fairy tales seem to be his specialty!

  23. Thanks for this post! I also read the Huffington Post article when it came out and was truly annoyed. We in no way whatsoever live “lavishly.” Wood is a Quaker and conscientious objector. As such, I would never expect any of his articles regarding the military to actually be objective. What is especially annoying to me is the average American civilian who’s clueless to the fact that everyone -even journalists- have a boss they answer to and an agenda. Someone like that may believe Wood’s dribble simply because it’s “in the news, so it must be true.”

  24. 24 years in the Army together (my husband is a COL and probably wont have a star before we retire) and my husband and I are still wondering where all the money went? I guess when you move EVERY 1-2 years it gets sucked out each move. Plus now we have 2 boys in college and it seems like yesterday we were just finishing up paying for our college bills! Civilians who feel that they know more than we do about our lifestyles and benefits make me laugh……! I don’t wish the stress of war or long deployments on anyone……but I think this Mr. Woods needs to experience it first hand before he thinks he is in any way an expert on commenting about our “lavish” lives. He really needs to get a grip and apologize to the millions of military families he has offended! Thanks Karen for writing what we all were thinking!

  25. Dave Wood is an arrogant leftist elitist parasite who proudly claims in his pedigree to be a “conscientious objector”. Nearly every conscientious objector I ever met had a not-so-subtle contempt for soldiers who served voluntarily. Based on what Wood has written, he obviously shares that contempt.

  26. Even IF the military was provided such “lavish” lifestyles, etc. I couldn’t think of anyone better to receive the money than our military!! They deserve all my tax money and more. Thanks for the article. As a sister to 2 military men, I know a little bit about the hardships the military endures and know that they deserve so much more than they receive.

  27. Karen, have you written to the Huffington Post Editor? I sincerely hope so. This is gross negligence in reporting. Unless the Huffington claims to only run opinion columns, Mr. Wood should be able to answer (or not) as to his sources. “Reporting” in such a fashion is unconscionable.

  28. As an AF spouse of 11 years, I appreciate your response to an article that seems to have been written sensationally in order to gain readers. My husband (an officer) could be making FAR more money if we were out of the military in his field of work. However, we choose this life of living overseas (for the past 5 years straight) helping to keep America safe, earning less money, frequently being moved around and living in small housing for our big family. Yes, it comes with some benefits–the best of which (in my opinion) is the healthcare. But there’s certainly nothing lavish about it. While there are some benefits that could be cut, and probably will be, we all need to remember that most Americans could enter the military and choose not to. Why? Because they don’t want to be sent off to war in the desert and risk their lives, or their physical and mental health. Realistically, the job has to have a couple of perks, or nobody is going to sign up for it.

  29. Thank you. You’ve brilliantly described military life and your retort is fabulous. I cried reading the HuffPo article, then read your reply. I dried my tears and cried again because you spoke the words on my heart. Thank you.

  30. Fantastic! Thank you for addressing all of his inaccuracies in his article and the last paragraph is perfect and my sentiments exactly! It is a shame because he has the credentials and the platform to inform folks. There is fat to be cut in the Defense budget and service members and their families deserve rational budget cuts. Now I am off to sit in my DOD paid for hot tub drink champagne delivered nightly to my luxurious military housing while the maid cleans, you know living my increasing lavish military wife life! Ha!

  31. Wonderful article! I am a Navy spouse. My husband could make more money in the civilian world as well. But we love the military. It is a choice we made. Love your blog

  32. I want to say how awesome your response really is. My husband is a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps and we struggle every month to get everything paid for. We have two kids and ourselves to worry about. If Mr.Wood thinks it is such a lavish lifestyle maybe he should try living in it for a bit. My on base housing is terrible, I have spent less than a year of the two years we have been married with my husband, and he missed the birth of our son, Oh and the the comment about the Commissary? really? Just no clue I guess. Seriously thank you for your response.

  33. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and well-written response. As a fellow military wife, I was dumb-struck by the article. I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was reading. It was obvious that Mr. Wood didn’t do his research, let alone spend anytime in on a base to get a real sense of what its like to live the military life. I am all for making cuts when and where needed, but let’s at least have an honest and correct look at military life. Shame on you Mr. Wood!!

  34. hahaha lavish! yeah that duct tape over termite holes in the wall is lavish let me tell ya! the housing needed to be redone..i mean with newspaper as insulation who needs that in July in South Carolina! the new housing is made cheap and a shizou could tear through the walls….been married to a Marine for 14 years….this guy should have done some research before he made himself look like an idiot

  35. Can I just point out one more thing? When Mr. Wood was spewing out his statistics regarding pay he gave the impression that the “lavish” salaries were common. Well, if you look at the Army (or troops in general) we are not sending a brigade of Brigadier Generals and Master Sergeants to fight on the ground. It would have been nice (but obviously not effective for this gist of this piece) to mention that most are paid no where near the numbers given…..in fact, that’s where the food stamps and struggles come in.

    My husband died in Iraq in 2003. His LES at that time said he was making $33,000 a year. I was 7.5 months pregnant with our third child. Three weeks after his funeral I had a newborn, a son that turned 2 the week before, and a seven year old daughter (and she had just turned seven in the days he was listed as MIA and then KIA) PLEASE, PLEASE Mr. Wood, tell me how OVERPAID my husband was. PLEASE tell my children that $33,000 was too much.

    I cordially invite Mr. Wood to change places and paychecks with my husband.

    Karen, thank you for writing this. I hope this spreads around as quickly as Mr. Wood’s piece!

  36. Outstanding blog! The only problem is that Mr Wood and his fact checkers will probably never read, nor acknowledge their innaccurate journalistic attempts. I’m not sure where all this misinformation originates, but it runs rampant around the country. During my 26 years in the Air Force, I had to set the record straight on numerous occasions when my college-educated civilian friends would opine about how lucky I was that I didn’t have to pay taxes (Really?! Then where the heck was all my money going all these years?). Oh, yeah, and by the way, there’s a monthly premium for my family’s free healthcare. Too many stories…

  37. Hi Karen: I would like to echo the remarks above. I am a spouse of a Marine for 14+ years and I also have worked for several different military support programs to include working with families and Wounded Warriors. Here’s clear data: the reason that the military even began receiving a consistent incline of their base pay was in order to catch up with their civilian counterparts. There was a huge difference between salaries of the military and civilians. In regards to “military bases and housing were refurbished”–yeah..only because they are privatized and that we were living in homes that were mold-ridden. I have worked with several junior guys and their families living below poverty level because they were stationed in a high real estate market and the BAH was unable to really cover living costs. When he remarks: “not counting bonuses, tax-free danger pay for service in a war zone and other benefits”–Would you consider $225 extra dollars (Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay) and Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (for only the months while on deployment) lavish when you are being shot at or bunkered down in the sand with temps surpassing 100 degrees? In the end, we all know that Mr. Wood does not understand an inkling of how the 1% of Americans lives and bears this burden…I would hope that more of Americans understand that his “facts” are grossly inaccurate.

  38. I hate that the government thinks it can skimp on the folks that are protecting their rights to make these idiotic decisions! I get infurriated every time I think about it… Why can’t the people in WA, D.C. take a pay cut? Why do they get to work for 3-4 years, and then enjoy a pension/retirement for the rest of their lives? It’s all so frusterating!!!

    Well written response to his un-educated article. Needless to say, I will never use the Huffington Post for anything!!! Thank you.

    1. There are n facts in this statement folks. Don’t be blind lemmings. Do the research. Teresa’s comments are completely untrue, the facts are easy to find just search the OPM.gov website and you can see the falsehoods in her post. I guess ignorance reigns.

  39. Thank you for your post. It was spot on. One thing that most outside of the military keep forgetting is that a spouse has a very difficult time making a career with a company when she/he is married to an active duty service member. As you know we moved every 3-4 years and my wife had to give up her job when we left. She had a very promising career in accounting with a large hotel chain but just couldn’t take it with her along the path. The second income from a spouse (especially one with longevity in a company) is sometimes forgotten by many.

  40. This was a very well-written, intelligent, insightful, and educated response to a (somewhat) baseless article. My husband is in the Army and we frequently discuss how much smoother life would have been in the civilian sector. When our civilian-counterparts spend 20+ years with one company, their salaries (for the most part) will be significantly higher than any military benefit we will receive with the same amount of time spent with one organization. That does not even begin to cut the surface of my loss of income considering I have a J.D. and with moving every 1-3 years, finding a steady job commensurate with my education level is borderline impossible. Thank you for taking the time to shed some light on reality for those who do not look beyond google or wikipedia for their facts.

  41. As a new Army wife 25 loooong years ago, I’ll ever forget sitting in our tiny 2 bdrm “stairwell” apartment on post in Baumholder, Germany, reading an unusual letter from the Department of Defense, essentially explaining how LUCKY we were for my husband’s low salary (as compared to civilian counterparts). It demonstrated how much a civilian would have to make per year in order to afford to pay for the benefits we receive (BAH, dental, medical, PX, Commissary, etc). Every year we received this letter – designed to reassure us that we were not as poor as we thought we were, and to encourage my husband to stay in (this was just before President Clinton began pink slipping officers, reducing 16 BDEs to 10, I believe).

    Fast forward 12 years… we were living in student housing at Leavenworth for CGSC. Kansas was my home – my entire childhood was spent there, and my family was there. On their first visit to our “lavish on post housing”, I wish I had thought to photograph the looks on their faces as they entered our home, and saw how spoiled a MAJ in the Army was. My brother looked at me and said, “THIS is what you live in? Where do you go when there’s a tornado?” Well, you see, there was this tiny little crawl space about 3 feet high under the floorboards of the hallway closet – and THAT, apparently, was where we went during a tornado, according to the post operator I called when the sirens went off (we ended up driving across town to a friend’s house to seek shelter).

    We had a rental home in Oklahoma that was infested with snakes, we lived in quarters so small (Okinawa), that we were required to leave our belongings in storage and bring only the “necessities”. And we’ve spent, literally, thousands of dollars every three years on PCS moves that was not reimbursed by the Army (especially if you cannot find a home to live in during the allotted time and have to continue living in a hotel). We’ve paid thousands of dollars every few years as well to ship our pets (being responsible pet owners), to pay for destroyed (or stolen) furniture and family heirlooms, and $2000 just 3 years ago to ship a car (and we’ll do that again this summer). Never mind the PCS tire blow outs, radiator leaks, and “check engine” lights that, like clockwork, always creep up when you’re 100 miles from the nearest service station.

    Lastly, we pay nearly $600 a month on a specific occupational therapy for one of our children (that has worked beautifully, might I add) because the condition she has is not listed in TriCare’s list of “authorized diseases/conditions”. When I called Tricare to discuss how to have the condition included – she said, “It will take an act of Congress… literally. Write your congressman.”

    Please, Mr. Wood, tell us where our lavish lifestyle is at!? Apparently we missed the memo!

  42. Every American should have to serve in the military to see just what a lavish lifestyle we enjoy. As a spouse of a retired army officer I don’t think there was ever a time in our 22 years that we did not worry about money. How about all those spouses and service members that volunteer there time to take up the slack for programs that are underfunded?

  43. Thank you, Karen. As an old retired First Sgt I could not remember getting rich during my service and neither could my wife of 49 years. We both thought I was always love of country. Silly us.

  44. Ma’am, you kick ass. Thanks for giving Mr. Woods the what-for, and hopefully educating him a bit. It likely didn’t break through his liberal logic barrier though…

  45. Great response and well written. When I read the original article, I was shocked and angry as I considered it full of skewed data and outright opinions (vs. the unbiased report you would expect to hear from a Pulitzer prize winning journalist). To add insult to injury, over 54,000 people have “liked” the article on Facebook. I know it is difficult to put yourself in another person’s shoes and less than 1% of the American public has ever served in the military, but it is disheartening to me to think that that many American’s begrudge military families a middle class lifestyle with healthcare and a three bedroom, 1,200 square foot base house.
    Kind Regards, Kerry

  46. i salute all of the families that support our troops, literally, first hand. i have many friends who have served, and more still who are serving or spouses of those serving. my great thanks to all of you. i think its interesting to point out that for all the comparisons done of who gets paid what, it is not once even mentioned that our sevice men and women can be put in harms way at any point in time. especially for those deployed, that wage they are earning is SERIOUSLY being earned. i doubt Mr. Woods was in any danger of being killed in his office as he wrote the article… i firmly believe that our military deserve whatever benefits we can afford them as a country- they are the reason we can afford those benefits. for those that dont agree- enlist, and let see you do it better, for free…

  47. I feel the same. Our so-called “lavish” benefits are not what everyone thinks. While I’m very thankful for everything we get, a lot comes with downsides that are not present in the civilian “equivalent”. Also, we receive these things b/c our lives have been signed away. I significant amount of our freedom has been give up to do our job.

  48. I can still recall signing paperwork my senior year in high school, just a few years ago in 2008, to join the military. I recall how devistated my mother was on the 4th of July when I was given a call to leave early for BMT less than 2 weeks later because there was a spot for me. I didn’t join because I wanted to become rich sir, I joined because I felt the Lord was guiding me to help out our nation before pursuing my own desires. Yes, I turned down all scholarships so my fellow classmates would be given more opportunities, though many would say that I shouldn’t have with the cuts in TA these past few years. I don’t regret it because I still have my GI Bill, for now anyway. They have the Post 9-11 Bill that can be transferred to a family member, but I don’t forsee that being around until my kids are old enough to use it the way military cuts have been going lately.
    I was tasked to deploy but it got cancelled. Though I never had the opportunity to deploy before I separated to stay at home with my two girls, I know what it feels like to have a spouse who is deployed. My husband left a 2 year old and was gone for the birth of his second child- now is that luxury? I think not. Especially since we PCS’d less than a year before he had left and we have no family near by to help. I find it amusing how some think that the commissary allows us to stay off of government programs such as WIC and food stamps like our civilian counterparts, because I know first hand that it does not.
    I see a lot of talk about officer pay and comparing the General and LT pays, why don’t we all take a look at the Enlisted Pay Chart for a change. I am willing to bet that anyone who has never served would not choose to serve as an enlisted member for the pay, especially if they have a family. I am use to looking at people’s pay on a daily basis, as I worked in finance. Mr. Wood, Sir, I wish you would have had the opportunity to be in my shoes for one day while I was serving because as the debt monitor for my previous station, you would have been heart broken to see what some people had to go through in order to just keep their family in a house while paying back those debts. There were a few particular cases that really got to me, as they were E-1 to E-3 in rank, had a spouse and a couple of kids, and owed more than they were due when they first PCS’d. I did everything in my power to help them out but I know a couple of families had to get loans from their bank just to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families for those first few months. Go ahead Sir, volunteer to be put in that situation and then tell me that we live in luxury.
    I would also encourage you to perform military honors at a retiree, veteran, or active duty member’s funeral- all of which i have done and have NEVER been more appreciative for such an opportunity in my life. I know what those who have served before, with, and after me had/have been through and will never cease to honor them. If you think that you could face the family members and friends of those who have passed away, please do, I encourage you to volunteer to flawlessly perform such an honor w/no emotion on your face. I still remember the look on the first spouse’s face that I presented the flag to in honor of her husband’s service. Her husband was an older gentleman with few surviving family and friends near by, so I was very sad to see such few in attendance- only 3 people including herself. She walked over to our vehicle as we were packing up to just give me a hug, she couldn’t speak, but I knew what she was saying “thank you!” I know that his sacrifice was great and I took the time to speak some words of encouragement and appreciation to her for his AND her service before we left. This is the real reason we are in the service, to serve, not to get rich. My family does not live on the motto “rich” in the sense that we have money. We are “rich” in the LOVE the Lord has given us and know that He will provide for us as long as we follow His path! We live on a budget, we get help from fellow military families and programs as needed, and do our best to cope with our loved ones being gone. I know that God will reveal the truth to those who want to hear it. Thank you for your time! God Bless!

  49. Thank you for your perspective. It was well a written and thought out response to an obviously hastily written, scantily researched topic. As a military dependent for 19 years, I can definitely agree that there’s been nothing lavish provided by the DOD during our active duty days. But I know that my husband, nor I would have traded one day of our lives to have all the lavish accesses that Mr. Wood alluded to.

  50. Dear karen that was very well written and very true as a prior army soldier and now the mom of a ssg with a wife and 2.5 children I can gaurantee he’s not serving for the money!

  51. Great job! Brilliant article. I would LOVE to share a link to this article on my own blog. I hope that is OK??? I find asking first is always better! ;O) You have put into words what so many of us thought in our heads when we read the Huntington Post article. For 12 plus years of war, his way of writing was a sad thank you to the troops! I couldn’t agree with you more when you say, we all know cutbacks must happen….but there are ways to do it that don’t slap a Soldier and his family in the face for all the sacrifices they have made over and over again for their country! I saw your blog through a friend on Facebook. I’m a new follower! Keep up the great work!!!
    Thanks for speaking up!
    Pam @ The Patriotic Pam

  52. Let me start by saying I am a very patriotic man, however I do feel gross amounts of money are wasted in the military. Armed guards wages and electricity to heat warehouses holding ship parts from out of commission WWII ships, and so on, that can be cut first. Second I do believe soldiers get injured, and I do believe some of them truly have PTSD, however, I know MANY guys personally, that have full military disabilities and are moving large screen tvs and couches around by them selves just as well as I could, its BS, and those same people also Claim PTSD and get money for that also, did they see some bad stuff? Yeah, i am sure they did, any worse than millions of Vietnam, WWII and WWI soldiers that never claimed it and continued normal life, hell no. Not saying these programs should not exist, but i think they need a HUGE upgrade in investigating claims and claimants! Just to start, i could go on all day about military waste, and military family waste and over expendature. And free medical for the rest of their life, i pay $500 a month for health insurance, now over the coarse of a lifetime how much is that PER soldier the country is paying for assuming he lives an average age of 70-90 years old? Well, Assuming his benefits start at age 20, and lets say he dies at age 70, that is $300,000 PER Soldier of health care US tax payers are paying for. PER soldier! Staggering! I know soldiers dont do it to get rich, but we pay a SOLDIERS wages with our tax dollar, not his entire family and their housing everything else. Especially not being a draft at the moment, soldiers are volunteers, if you have a family that you cant or wont leave behind while you are off doing your thing, in a home you are paying for your self like every other hard working american, then maybe you shouldn’t volunteer to be a soldier! and when you come home after pushing missle buttons all day, and driving around in a humvee, or even putting a bullet in some ones brain for that matter, remember YOU volunteered your self for that, you made the big boy decision you were man enough to accomplish the task and deal with the consequences physically and emotionally, that is why you collect a paycheck. Can a Saw Mill worker goto work, and at the end of the day come home and sue the company becuase over the years he wore his joints out, and that he is always tired at the end of the night, has nightmares of getting caught in a machine? No, people would think that is assanying. Becuase he could have chosen another profession at any time. Life is a matter of choices. If you cant deal with, live off the income of, or deal with the consequences of those decisions, then YOU personally made the wrong decisions, and YOU should be the one to deal with the consequences of your poor decision making, and let us know when you are ready to be a productive tax paying part of society and live off your own income.

    1. We don’t get free health care for life. When we retire we have to pay a monthly premium for health insureance, plus copays if we have to see a doctor outside of a Military Treatment Facility (MTF).

      Plus, now any retiree living more than 40 miles from a MTF have to change from TRICARE Prime to TRICARE Standard, paying a higher premium monthly.

      You want to discuss waste, lets discuss the fact that our President and Members of Congress only have to serve 1 term and they get a check for the rest of their lives. Not only do they get a full 100% of their pay check for life, they also get free health care and many other benefits that our Military retirees DO NOT receive.

      Last time I checked, I will only receive 50% of my paycheck when I retire at 20 years. That is only going to be about $2500, per month (about $30,000 a year). AND, that is taxable. How is anyone supposed to live on that and pay for health insurance.

      I don’t know who you have health insurance through, but $500 per month sounds like an awful lot of money. I’m thinking that you may be a little older, but when someone is working for a company they have health insurance through the company I really don’t think it costs that much. For some that would be about 1/4 of their monthly check.

      Your ranting just sounds like you are jealous that you couldn’t do what a Soldier does and now you have to pay an exhorbant amount for your health insurance and other living expenses. You should be happy that there is someone out there willing to “volunteer” to fight for your sorry ass. If it were for us, you wouldn’t be at home paying your $500 a month for health insurance.

      1. Get em girl! Also, last time I checked, military service members can’t sue the government NO MATTER what happens to them. A saw mill worker would have the luxury of suing a negligent company, a service member does not.

    2. Do you not realize that the military pays taxes too! All of us! As well as we pay for our families health care! Agreed we all knew what we were getting into when we signed the papers, that is not what we are trying to say! We are trying to explain that the picture Mr. Wood had painted about the lavish life we live is wrong! I did not hear in anyone’s blog or post that they are demanding pay raises all I see and hear is that we do it for our country, we just don’t appreciate the lies and misleading information put out there! I will continue to serve my country no matter what the pay or other cuts they throw my way so you and the rest of this country may sleep at night knowing men and women are doing everything in their power to keep you and this country free! If that means I have to go without so the rest of the country can have what they need then that is what I will do! If you ask any active duty or veteran they will say the same thing! Would it be great to not have to stress about money and know that my family can afford the things they want, yes, but I will take securing their and your freedom over money any day! HOORAH!

      1. I find it funny that you believe you are paying taxes, when it actuality you are paid with taxes.

    3. dhdriller: The biggest difference between service men and women and civilian is that they are willing to lay down their lives as their career of choice. Volunteers? Yes – if you want to call it that. But I think you’ve confused VOLUNTEERING (which is traditionally unpaid, generous donation of one’s time) with a military in which citizens have an obligation to serve (such as in Israel). Our volunteer military refers to the fact that no one is forced to join by law. Police, fireman, teachers – they all volunteer for their salaried careers, too… as do teenagers who choose to work at McDonald’s instead of Burger King, or at the mall, or at the grocery store. We ALL make our choices in life… but MANY choose NOT to serve to protect their country – and that’s ok. It’s not for the faint of heart.

      1. I am a logger, i risk my life every single day. I havemissing fingers, broken legs, broken arms, sprained back, torn outworn out shoulders, and I am one of the lucky ones! I have packed SEVERAL of my close friend’s dead, smashed, mangled bloody bodies out of the bottom of canyons! Just an FYI, soldiers are not the only ones that risk their lives every day. And yes, by volunteer, i meant they chose the job on their own free will, not have been drafted. Same as I love the woods, the smell of fresh cut fir trees, seeing birds fly over me as I work, having a moonlight drive every morning i goto work, a nice outdoor picnic every day for lunch, and everything else that i see and love about being in the woods, for me I wouldnt have it any other way, i volunteered to be a logger, meaning it is what I chose. same as they chose to do a dangerous job for a living. Doesnt make one any more or less special than the other. It just frusterates me as a HIGH tax paying hard working tax payer, to have to pay so much, and see sooooooo much government spending waste, especially on the military end. Bottom line was, I think they can do a whole lot of belt sinching in the military, maybe even with out cutting out the current soldiers and just make the changes carry over to new ones coming in, but i think they need to ffer the job for a set wage, with certain performace expectations, period. should anything slip, falter, weaken, change, or performance drop, your fired. Bottom line, we are just spending way to much, every US tax payer has taken cuts in wages by inflating the Min Wage, we have taken cuts in wages due to higher taxes, we have huge expense in covering our family for medical insurance, now the citizens have taken their cuts, the military needs to be next. and even if you dont agree, it is one of the biggest areas of waste in the country. and not even just the soldiers, tons of other things! guarded and heated warehouses full of outdated parts, airforce budget for fighter jets that we are just giving away to Muslims, etc. Its gotta stop

  53. Great job Karen. What Congressman will be the first to try and take the death gratuity which is a one-time non-taxable payment to help surviving family members deal with the financial hardships that accompany the loss of a servicemember.

    A payment of $100,000 for survivors of those whose deaths under the following conditions:

    A member of an armed force under his jurisdiction who dies while on active duty or while performing authorized travel to or from active duty;

    A Reserve of an armed force who dies while on inactive duty training (with exceptions);

    Any Reserve of an armed force who assumed an obligation to perform active duty for training, or inactive duty training (with exceptions) and who dies while traveling directly to or from that active duty for training or inactive duty training;

    Any member of a reserve officers’ training corps who dies while performing annual training duty under orders for a period of more than 13 days, or while performing authorized travel to or from that annual training duty; or any applicant for membership in a reserve officers’ training corps who dies while attending field training or a practice cruise or while performing authorized travel to or from the place where the training or cruise is conducted; or

    A person who dies while traveling to or from or while at a place for final acceptance, or for entry upon active duty (other than for training), in an armed force, who has been ordered or directed to go to that place, and who

    Has been provisionally accepted for that duty; or

    Has been selected for service in that armed force.

    I am not seeing long line of people volunteering to serve their country.

  54. Karen,
    That was very well and factually stated. That’s all I have to say because as your response is outstanding in comparison to the fantasy stated by David Wood. Lavish really?

  55. Thank you! I am so tired of hearing senators and congressmen complain about how much the military budget spends on us (the service men/women and their families) but have no problem with spending millions on weapons we do not need, want, or even asked for! Not that long ago there were hundreds of state of the art tanks ordered through a defence contract even though we have hundreds of tanks that are in working order and not enough personel to make them useful. With treatment like this it is no wonder why!

  56. Thank you so much for informing Mr. Wood on a few of his fabricated issues. I am prior military and my husband just signed his last enlistment of 4 years (this will put him at his 20 year mark.) He is a Tsgt (E6) in the Air Force. Sadly, on our tax returns for 2012, we made a little over $18,000. This made us qualify for earned income. Now, Mr. Wood, could you please help me understand how that is lavish? Did I mention that we have 3 boys, and that he is about to head out on his 3rd deployment in 3 years? While I pray to God that you read this, I hope that you are lying in your bed tonight, with your significant other, and think of all military personnel and their families. When you think about them, please remember that they are the reason that your stupid ass can write lies and say what you want. They are they reason that you have a job, and they are the reason that you are a free man. They defend this country and the constitution. Next time you write an article, Mr. Wood, do your research from a normal ranking person (which makes up 75% of the military). This is an enlisted Sergeant. I think that you will be appalled at what you find.

    Karen,
    Thank you so much for writing this. You did an amazing job. I truly how that a lot of people see this!

  57. I can state for fact that KBR communications networking personnel earn an average of $74,000 for a starting wage in combat. Plus healthcare, plus housing, plus tax free, and we as military have to go through these civilians to get anything completed, because the military has no ownership of the networks. The civilians do. There is nothing more disgusting than having to go to a 25 year old shit for brains making high 5 digits, low 6 digit with barely a college degree or just certification. Talk about over spending. Look at the contractors and compare wages. I am not even qualified as a signal officer to work for these bastards because I don’t have the certification.

  58. Thank you for this article as a Soldier ( Army reserves) and a spouse. There is a definitive difference between lavish and living. No complaints the army has great benefits for the most part, but at a cost. Those of us that have been a part of the wartime armed forces understand that. We know the deployments and separations. As a spouse, deployments are mentally and physically exhausting. In my experience more so on the homefront than overseas. (I have experienced both) Thank you for touching on the point of spouses’ careers taking a backseat to the army PCSs and constant change. I never thought I’d go to school and incur student loans for the profession of housewife. It’s difficult to start a job or career, then move 2 yrs later and expect to find something else, especially in the current job market.
    Our life is about sacrifice. That is the one word that I believe describes the Army life, that and friendship.

  59. I’m looking at interviewing military families (spouses…) for an article I am writing. The article shows the things Military Service Members & Families deal with and the stress as well as struggles as proof we’re not living “lavishly” nor have we been not to mention the mental strain that comes from it. That we’re not expecting to live lavishly; we just want to be treated with dignity and respect and not like 3rd class citizens who are needed & necessary, but not appreciated. Many Military Families feel that the majority of civilians appreciate us; however, many things being propagated by some are misinforming, misleading or nonfactual. We are willing to put facts out there along with what our personal experiences are like for us to help others understand and set those few straight on what the reality is for us. Prior & Currently Serving Spouses or Parents of Service Members are understand, live and share in what life is like in the Military or for their child who is single and serving in the Military to help us shed light. We will NOT include last names, locations, branches, or ranks, or any personal identifying info. We’ll use just 1st names or for those who’d like to remain ANON a fictional 1st name. Thank you very much for you time and consideration and I look forward to hearing back from you. *Dawn*

  60. Karen- GREAT post! Hope you and Clay are well! We’ve lost track with some of the Tiger Battalion and it is good to see them pop up from time to time! Please tell Clay hello from the Wackerhagens….you know, some of those other military folks who live lavishly! 🙂 Ha! We separated 3 years ago after 2 deployments and many, many other months of various duties… and now live lavishly on a little disability (the single lavish benefit we retained upon separation after 6 years in).

  61. Great post dear! And your “eat the boot” comment cracked me up. Anyone that knows numbers, knows numbers can be manipulated to show any slant they want. But when you actually look at how many military families live paycheck to paycheck, and barely make ends meet, or are receiving food stamps or other aid…”lavish” is out the window, and “living wage” is just barely for many.

  62. Man, what military were they speaking of. I retired after 20 and must work to survive–guess I missed-out on the gravy train. Most of old enlisted guys had no furniture, cars, and barely enough money to take care of their families. I worked 12-14 hours a day, most days at work and then had to squeeze in part-time work to care for my family. Like you said, our spouses essentially dropped everything they wanted in life to support our military and to care for family. I left my poor wife to do everything for almost 5 years deployed time doing what most citizens are not willing to do, over a 10 year period. Let’s see this jackass do the same. One thing needs to be clear: Without military wives/husbands, this country fails.

  63. I have worked as a teacher at an Army base in Germany. Our soldiers were some of the first in Iraq and Afghanistan. There families live in stairwells- built during the Reich. Every 10 yrs they might get renovated w paint, maybe flooring. It and the many bases look like clean organized projects. Many of our soldiers have had multiple tours of duty leaving spouse and children behind. Maybe the writer should actually visit an average base! He has definitely misrepresented military housing.

  64. The 30% number (for the Commissary) could possibly have come from DeCA itself. Our Commissary here has a sign saying that, on average, we save 30% by shopping there rather than Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc.

  65. “Personally, I believe my husband is adequately compensated for the responsibilities and pressures associated with his job, especially when free healthcare and retirement benefits are factored in. But please do not confuse adequate compensation with the two of us throwing money in the air while cackling at the notion of taxpayers funding our lavish lifestyle.”

    I couldn’t agree more. My husband originally enlisted in the Coast Guard and then went the route of OCS. I can say that our pay as an enlisted service member was laughable! We wound up seeking assistance from the WIC program upon the arrival of our firstborn son. We have been very blessed and able to manage our finances, much like you explained happens in your household. Ironically, if the federal government could manage their own (OUR tax dollars) budgets half as well, we might not be in this budget crisis.

    I fear the backlash of taking away incentives that led people to join the military in the first place. For many, it was the only avenue to furthering their education. For others, it was an opportunity to serve the country they are proud to live in. So many other benefits are at risk and as a result, we may find ourselves out of volunteers for our VOLUNTEER military. That can only lead to one outcome, the return of the draft. THAT should go over well!!!

    Thank you for your well-written, thought-provoking and entertaining article. Keep up the good work and watch out for your base jumping toddler! He’s adorable! Thank you for your husband’s service… as well as your own! God Bless!

    Also Karen 🙂

    P.S. BEST LINE EVER! “please do not confuse adequate compensation with the two of us throwing money in the air while cackling at the notion of taxpayers funding our lavish lifestyle!” )

    1. Your quote “Ironcially, if the federal government could manage their own (OUR tax dollars) budgets half as well, we might not be in this budget crisis.”

      I have been saying this for years. I think they should fire all their budget people and hire military spouses. Military spouses know how to balance a budget plain and simple.

  66. BRAVO, when my husband was reading Mr. Wood’s article he was fuming. I was active duty for 3 years, in the reserves for 9 years, and have been back on active duty since 1998. I’ve never received enough BAH to cover ALL my living expenses off post, clearly Mr. Wood’s did not research his work before publishing it.

    I can’t image how our retirees living on a budget were feeling when the government was discussing raising their health insurance premiums. And, God forbid they haven’t increased since 1985!!!!! They should never increase, insurance premiums for military retirees shouldn’t even exist. When our retirees first raised their hands and enlisted in the military they did so with the understanding that IF they did their 20 or more years that they would not only recieve a retirement check, but they would be covered for life when it came to health. Now they have to pay monthly premiums, copays, and are being told that if they live more than 40 miles from a MTF(Military Treatment Facility) they will have to drop TRICARE Prime and get TRICARE Standard (forcing them to pay more for health insurance).

    When I first entered the military, health and dental was available for family members. Now if I want my family members to get dental care I have to pay for dental insurance. My son didn’t take care of his teeth, one of his rear molars needed a root canal. Okay, no problem, I have dental insurance. WRONG, after the dental insurance paid for the procedure I still had to pay $600!!!!!! “WHAT,” I said. My son was 17, he asked “how much to just pull the tooth?” The dentist replied, “$38.00.” My son told him to just pull the tooth. Not my first choice, but I didn’t have $600 to pay the dentist for a root canal.

    What Mr. Woods also fails to recognize is that many of the housing facilities in the states are now run by a private organization, not the military. And, that most of the housing that is being demolished and rebuilt is because it doesn’t meet the standards set by law for a rental company to lease to individuals.

  67. My Dad was a WWII vet. and served under Patton, he would call today soldiers, whiney wimps.

    As for Mr. Woods source of data, read the article. All the numbers come straight from the Office of Secretary of Defense’ Quadrennial Defense Review 2011 (QDR 2011). His article had a link to this and some
    earlier QDRs. Let me repeat Mr. Wood did
    not generate the numbers, he quoted them exactly as they were presented, in context.

    1. No disrespect to any vet of any war but today’s soldiers are physically, tactically, and technologically superior. This is a function not of the soldier but of the training and technology, and weapon systems. Every era has its remfs & fobbits and WWI, WWII, Korea, & Vietnam all had their share of sheer hell endured by the grunts. The Gulf Wars had their share also and as time goes by more people will learn of those battles. My son looks to vets of previous wars as heroes and they in turn look at him the same way.

  68. So much of what you said is absolutely true…I only wish that the average American had access to the real facts. Coming from the enlisted side, I think we live an even less “lavish” lifestyle than the average officer’s family. That said, officers only make up 11% of the people who join the armed forces each year…Factor that into your average Mr. Wood! And I am not sure how the Army goes, but the Marine Corps ensures that no one reaches the paygrade of E-8 after only 10 yrs. of service. So if you want to call our E-6 lifestyle “lavish” because I don’t have a car payment, go ahead. We used my husband’s last bonus to pay it off. As a result of our budgeting we can now afford to pay our $500 a month electric bill we fork out every month in this hell hole of a duty station known as Yuma (while we keep the house at a “comfortable” 80 degree year around). So much for that up-graded base housing that has an 18 month wait!

  69. Thank you, Karen! I can attest to the spouse’s career taking a backseat and, yes, potentially less overall household income! It is always a guess at whether I’ll be able to find work and how quickly at each assignment! My husband is AF, but we both met at Clemson too…GO TIGERS!!!

  70. Nothing to argue with in this blog just as there is nothing lavish in military compensation. I have said this before – what is it worth to have someone defend your life and your lifestyle? My son’s barracks at Ft. Benning were thought to be abandoned projects when I should our congressman the pictures. On-base housing for married enlisted weren’t much better. Meals aren’t exactly Olive Garden. You get paint on your ACUs from your Army duties well it’s on you to buy replacements. But what about the cost to the families? How do you compensate a parent, spouse, child or sibling for the stress caused by a deployment? Every day my son was deployed in Iraq his mother would look down the street on her way home from work – looking for a government sedan. If it was there she would have kept on driving. For over 3 years she never watched the news for fear that she would hear of an attack & wonder if it was her baby. How do you keep a relationship intact when you’re deployed every other year? How do you measure the value of what you miss, like a birth, baby’s first steps, your daughter’s senior prom, etc, while deployed? People who have never served should keep their mouths shut until they can speak from experience.

  71. Hi Karen, I appreciate your post. I can definitely attest to the spouse’s career taking a backseat and resulting in lower overall household income. With each PCS, we never know whether I will find a job and how long it might take. My husband (USAF) and I met at Clemson too…GO TIGERS!!!

    1. The Secretary of Defense published the numbers that Mr Woods used. Read the Quadrennial Defense Review and you can see that Mr. Woods quoted the numbers verbatim.

  72. Thank you so much for writing this. I am currently in the process of writing my congressman in regards to some grossly inadequate statements I have been made aware of. I applaud you for making a statement and a stand for all military everywhere. This article makes it look as if we are all living an outlandish life of luxury when truth be known, many of our service members qualify for government aid to supplement the income because they are considered to be living at poverty level!! Maybe that should also be taken into consideration when looking at the military pay.

  73. I have not been in the military for about 7 years, but while I was in, the living situation was awesome. At one point I do believe I was living in barracks that had been condemned and closed up but reopened for us Marines to live in. Nah, no need to renovate!

  74. Well, I can tell you as a Veteran, that served 15 years. You are definitely not in it for the money. You are there for the LOVE of your COUNTRY. I am saddened by the fact that there are people out there that even have the audacity to think that the military personal live lavishly. I made less than $30,000 a year. Not to even mention the mental or physical disabilities I ended up with for the rest of my life. Some people in the service are considered poverty level.

  75. Do you not realize that the military pays taxes too! All of us! As well as we pay for our families health care! Agreed we all knew what we were getting into when we signed the papers, that is not what we are trying to say! We are trying to explain that the picture Mr. Wood had painted about the lavish life we live is wrong! I did not hear in anyone’s blog or post that they are demanding pay raises all I see and hear is that we do it for our country, we just don’t appreciate the lies and misleading information put out there! I will continue to serve my country no matter what the pay or other cuts they throw my way so you and the rest of this country may sleep at night knowing men and women are doing everything in their power to keep you and this country free! If that means I have to go without so the rest of the country can have what they need then that is what I will do! If you ask any active duty or veteran they will say the same thing! Would it be great to not have to stress about money and know that my family can afford the things they want, yes, but I will take securing their and your freedom over money any day! HOORAH!

  76. While I recognize that information in Mr. Wood’s article is grossly inaccurate, I have to disagree with some of the information posted in the blog above. As a military wife, I can honestly say that while I do not live a lavish lifestyle, but we live a VERY comfortable life…much more so than many of our civilian friends. Military members may not earn an extraordinary or lavish wage “on paper” but when the tax-free benefits (such as BAH and BAS) are factored in, the relative amount of pay (compared to civilian wages) is higher than most would think. The article states that the average officer earns $94,700 per year. This blog takes issue with that number as being too high, but just looking at straight numbers…an O-4 with 12 years of service makes $82,224/year–not including BAH. When BAH is factored in, that means said O-4 makes well above the $94,700 average per year.

    1. Thank you for your honesty and considering the BAH and BAS when calculating the per year earnings. This is truly the only way to compare to civilian earnings, since civilians do not receive BAH and BAS.

    2. You’re also making comments on a section of the military when the entire workforce ends up being affected. That’s like cutting the benefits of a minimum wage worker because his manager is making too much.

  77. WELL SAID! I read Mr. Woods article yesterday and it was the most uninformed article that I have read in years. A friend placed a link to your article on my fb page this evening after seeing my rant about the other article yesterday. Thank you for writing this!
    Cheers!
    Tami Frederick, proud USN wife “livin’ the lavious life!” LOL

  78. What David Wood also left our was out civilian counter-parts having lavish unemployment extended to half the regular Enlistment of any Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman without being asked to do a single thing for their country. The millions of American’s who have Food Stamps, TANF and child care benefits given to them without even being required to prove they actually have a need for them. The tens of thousands of Deadbeat Parents who have not been prosecuted by Justice Department despite having five federal laws on the books to make them take responsibility. Or, most unbelievable, the number of illegal immigrants who received federal benefits while having no allegiance to this country or sacrificing for it.

    Granted, all the military did was fight three wars (Don’t forget Libya), rescue over a hundred thousand people after a tsunami in Indonesia, earthquakes in Japan and Haiti, lead the rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina, assisted in Hurricane Sandy and countless other disasters.

    Hey David Wood….YOU’RE WELCOME!

    1. Yes! A lot of people on here that agree with Mr. Wood are quick to take the benefits of those who actually work, and work hard. But not address the large population leeching off of taxpayer dollars who are doing nothing. Do some people need unemployment and government assistance? Absolutely. But not as many as those who are taking it. Welcome to America, land of the free ride.

  79. Well said! Thank you for posting it. When I read Mr. Wood’s article I was appalled. Me and my husband discussed it and uttered the same things you have wrote. All I asked Mr. Wood, will he gladly go through all the hardship our military personnel go through? Will he carry our freedom in his shoulder knowing he might not see his family again? Will he survive seeing his friends get shot and killed for the freedom that many take for granted? To judge without going through the hardship is down right stupid in my eyes. I wish we get paid so much more, so the tears, worries, fear and time not spent with my kids by my husband who is one of many brave men and woman of the military who fights for our freedom everyday so many can have the luxury to sleep at night and just worry what will they wear they next day will be worth it!
    So, thank you for posting this. I ask your permission to repost this at my site… If only you don’t mind. I wish you all the best! God bless 🙂

  80. An O-5 with >22 years has seen a basic pay increase of almost 45% since 2001. Mr Woods numbers came straight (unedited) from the SECDEF own QDR on Military Pay. CBO publish the exact same numbers as well.

    1. EVERYTHING has seen an increase of about 45% over the last 12 years. Should I be forced to pay 2013 gas prices on a 2001 wage? I don’t think so. Hell, I moved back to Louisiana after a 9 year absence, and the rent on the very same house I lived in back then has increased by $700 per month. I realize you are only referring to a report, but that is from someone who is actually living a lavish lifestyle. How about the attention be pointed in the direction of the government workers in congress and the White House. They are the ones who need the pay cuts.

  81. Military pay and retirement comprise almost 1/3 of the current Defense Budget (read the CBO report). It is unsustainable. DOD provides a retirement calculator and an E-8 retiring this year at age 40 (and living 30 more years) will gather in over $1.2M in pay during retirement alone (and that’s using low numbers for cost of living and inflation numbers). These numbers don’t include any of the other benefits. By 2036 the military will have no money to spend on anything (maintenance, new systems, etc…) but pay and retirement. Read the CBO and QDR reports.

    1. 1st Anonymous, are you that misled? You are applying facts to a whole range of military. How about the large group of E5 and lower that came in during the recruitment surges for these last wars. They make far less, receive less in “benefits”, and are becoming crippled by cuts.

  82. Thank you for trying to set the record straight. Unfortunately a lot of people will believe the garbage in that article. As others have stated, enlisted do NOT make a lot (or even decent – in my opinion) even if you include all the allowances. My husband retired in 1995 after 20 years as an E6. That year I worked full time and our annual income together for the year was $29,000! Sure he had BAQ which covered approximately 1/3 of our house payment and BAS which “might” have bought a week’s groceries for a family of 5 but hey, it was our life and we dealt with it. No one that has not gone through it can understand what it is like for a military family and I’m okay with that. Just don’t start telling me how great we have, or had, it financially! Or what a great retirement the military has! When Congress gets 100% of their pay after ONE term of service screwing up our lives and the military gets 50% of their base pay after 20 years of putting their life on the line!!!!! It takes special people to be in the military and America should thank their lucky stars that there are still people that think enough of this country to sacrifice and defend it! Thanks again!!!

  83. I served in the military for 4 years. My highest pay was $180.00 a month. It would appear to me that this non-person woods,(does not deserve a capital “W”) does not appreciate any one in uniform. If he thinks that the military leads a lavished life stye, well, why doesn’t he serve, and enjoy all these benefits that are offered. woods needs to get down on his knees, and thank the good Lord for the armed forces. Without us, he would not be able to express his opinions. To think that we have to fight for non-persons as he. Blessings.

  84. Well put! I think Mr. Wood’s claims of a 30% commissary savings come from the annual income statement or whatever it’s called that we’re sent once a year with a monetization of all the “benefits.” I, personally, have never recognized such savings. In fact, in many cases it’s cheaper to shop on the economy after including the commissary surcharge in the price of an item.

    1. Exactly! Thank you for this. On our paychecks, we were getting killed by commissary pricing for basic items. We do much better at our local grocery store and Walmart.

  85. Thank you! Very nicely put. Whatever happened to truth in reporting. Mr. Wood is grossly off track on this. We’re 22 year veterans in the Navy, 6 more to go before we can retire. These articles kill me, people have no clue.

  86. Congratulations on the well-written dismantling of a myriad of misleading information presented by someone who does not hide his anti-military bias at all in his writing. Walk a mile in a man’s shoes, then you have something to say about how that man lives. I’m a 26-yr AF vet, and over the years, my financial life varied from desperate to comfortable, but never lavish. Never. Any financial pickles I landed in were by choices I made, and I had to live with those.

    Regardless of your income, if you have financial savvy, you can make your money stretch. My ex-supervisor routinely put away $500/month in savings, and he, his wife and daughter lived sensibly and frugally. Their reward – paying off their house at his last duty station years early, and being able to pay cash for their cars, all of which are economy models with manual transmission and hand-crank windows. They live well, compared to many retiree families, because they planned for it.

    “Pentagon pays all off-base housing costs” – that’s the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard in my life, and is simply not true. (Well, not the most ludicrous, the MOST ludicrous was the fact this guy thinks that somewhere there exists a one-star general with 16 years of service, THAT is LUDICROUS) The housing allowance is based on the military member’s rank, marital status, and averaged local area housing costs. Niceties like water and electricity aren’t part of the equation. On-base housing is “free”, in the sense that the military member receives no allowance, but is not charged for utilities consumed in the on-base residence.

    Commissaries – the 30% savings is only a calculation, and a poor one at that. Food shopping off-base in Arizona is tax-free. No sales tax is levied on groceries, only prepared foods. Example – a gallon of milk has no tax, but the rotisserie chicken prepared at the grocery deli has sales tax. Commissaries have a 5% across the board surcharge as a sustainment fee. Certain things are less expensive on the base than off, and vice versa. You find out which, by looking for yourself. Careful, though, that gallon of orange juice that’s a dollar cheaper off base will cost you two dollars in gas on the round trip.

    Someone earlier referenced the annual statement of military compensation that’s mailed out to all servicemembers annually, which tells you how much you’re really earning. Those typically ascribe a 15 – 20% annual savings in groceries from shopping in base exchanges and commissaries. Not quite 30%, is it, but it doesn’t bother me, I won’t cry foul if I don’t get 30%, to do so would be to fall into the entitlement mindset that a woeful amount of Americans – mostly liberal, I might add – have fallen into deeply. Many businesses offer a military discount on retail sales, part of their being patriotic and supporting the troops. All you have to do is ask, the worst they can say is no. If they don’t offer it, don’t feel offended, it may be a question of far-off corporate policy the local guy has no control over. Home Depot does a 10% discount for active and retired military. That’s cool.

    To summarize, thank you for clearing up the many misconceptions on military life. I was happy to serve my country, and the compensation may have at times felt insufficient, but that was me wanting that new car or new piece of furniture. I learned, like most people should, that I had to live within my means. Career military personnel operate on a concept of deferred compensation, living for years on a modest salary with the idea of modest retirement pension and modest health care benefits awaiting them on the other end of a 20-year period of service to their country. They endure the many hardships and extended separations – which they did volunteer for by raising their right hand – with the thought that “it will be all worth it” in the end. Meanwhile, our Congresscritters with a single two, four or six-year stint inside the Beltway are guaranteed lifetime perks that are indeed LAVISH when compared to someone risking twenty years of their life for their country. Hmm, looks suspiciously like the ruling class of ancient Rome, and that ruling class is busily trying to undermine that deferred compensation while not saying boo about their own pay (well looky here, they just now got a raise, with a sequester in place nonetheless!)

  87. Thank you so much for this article! I was absolutely disgusted by Mr. Wood’s article. Obviously he is clueless. I just fear the damage he may have caused to unknowing civilian American’s who have NO clue what our world is like.

  88. Karen, Thank you for being able to put into words, using facts, that so many of us want to say, and sometimes can’t. Your post has sparked conversations among military and non-military communities, and hopefully will open the eyes of enough people that misinformation like this won’t continue.

  89. I have had friends who were (and are) living overseas while on active duty. At the same time, our family was also in S. Korea, and my children attended a DODS school (paying tuition, as we were not active military.) Our family is not wealthy, and I can still say that even though we lived “on the economy”, I still had it much better than our military friends whose husbands were often gone, or deployed to war-zones. They may have had access to products in the commissary that I couldn’t find, but our life-style was still more comfortable in a Korean apartment than my friends living on base, in military housing. This article makes it seem as though our career military members are taking tax-payers for a ride, and this is so unfair. Thanks for posting!

  90. Awesome response and lest we forget, we in the military pay our taxes! (Probably mostly on time as well, she says to the whatever percent of folks in the IRS that are overdue in the millions of dollars!) Wait, what you say, those taxes pay our “lavish” salaries?! So, not only are we not living a lavish lifestyle but, we’re paying ourselves nothing to do it! Grrrr. . .

  91. Amen to that. My husband and I are both AF. After eight years he is getting out because its becoming too ridiculous. After five years I’m getting out as well. Once they took TA I really have no reason to be in anymore. With the way the country treats the military it’s hard to have pride in being in the military. I would hate to see what this country would be like if there was no military members fighting for the majority of this country’s freedom. Having to miss our family for so long and having to miss important events in our family’s lives is no longer worth it. My husband missed the birth of our first child because he was overseas fighting for this country and this is the payment we get. It’s so very sad. Though we are currently getting out I just pray that this country and its government realize how important the military is and let them know how important they are by compensating them correctly.

  92. Idiots. I grew up military and we could not even afford to buy a plastic sled. Nothing makes me madder than to see people acting so dumb. Hey….have MS, but those free military doctors told me at 21 I had a stroke, gave me muscle relaxers and sent me back to campus. Nice. Get ready for social medicine. Goes well with people who think military families make lots of money. Thank God people with a brain are the ones defending a country full of people who don’t have a clue.

    1. I’m sorry for your inadequate treatment. My wife goes through the same experience regarding a leg injury that we will have to see a specialist for when she is out. The “take a week off with some ibuprofen” is leading to almost crippling results when they toss her back onto the field. People will understand when all this wonderful “free healthcare for all” BS kicks in.

  93. My husband served 22 years in the military and retired as an E-7. We just received our letter from Tricare stating that we are being dropped from Prime and switched to Tricare Standard on October 1, 2013. We paid a premium for Prime, but will not for Standard. The downside is that now we’ll pay significantly more for our family’s healthcare needs. Awesome! As far as living large while in the military….let’s just say that squeezing a family of 6 into about 1400 sf of living space in a stairwell in Germany could hardly be considered living a lavish lifestyle. Did we travel? Sure. That was the one “lavish” perk we earned.We moved every three years and then enjoyed a few years without a husband/father as we bathed in the lap of luxury.while he spent time on an endless beach. Don’t get me wrong, though. We loved the military life and wouldn’t have volunteered for any other career. My husband proudly served his country and my children and I stood bravely by with our hands on our hearts. Hooah!

  94. I grew up as an Army brat and spent 5 years in the Army myself. Me and my father were both enlisted men. Growing up, we shopped at thrift stores for clothes. We either lived on base or in poor neighborhoods. When I served, I rented a shabby apartment I shared with a buddy. If things have changed and enlisted men are living large, then more power to them. But somehow I doubt it. If we want to save money in the defense budget, I say we look to waste in big programs like the iraq reconstruction or the F-35, rather than screwing our soldiers over.

  95. I appreciate all of your points and you taking the time to explain your position as a military family. However, while I can’t speak for all American’s I can speak to a few things that might be causing some of the questions:

    Many well educated and employed Americans are having a hard time making ends meet, much less get ahead and be able to save for their kids’ college and their own retirement. It is not because of unemployment, debt, or money mismanagement. Two big factors are astronomical health insurance and medical costs along with high housing costs.

    From our own experience and speaking with acquaintances, it is not uncommon for a family of four to pay $800-$1200 per month for health insurance that has a high deductible (i.e. $5K-$10K). Employers are generally covering very little of insurance premiums anymore. This could easily add up to a part-time salary or a full-time minimum wage salary. There truly are Americans going to work every day just to pay for their family medical expenses. This is not something that military families have to face, and it can create an feeling of inequality when the tax dollars that are taken from our hard-earned paychecks go to pay for your military healthcare. Why should you get your healthcare free when no one else in America does?

    The second big issue is housing. Again, many Americans are struggling to make their housing payment every month, whether it is rent or a mortgage. If not given free housing, military families are given a housing allowance for the area that allows them to cover a reasonable rent/mortgage. I think many people feel this alone is a luxury. Again, why should you not have to pay for your housing, like everyone else in America?

    The third issue that I think Americans may look at as a luxury is the huge bonuses that come every couple of years with contract renewals. This is virtually unheard of in most other jobs in America. I know many military families don’t like to discuss or admit to the fact that they receive more than $10K every couple of years when they renew their contracts. Again, this comes from our tax dollars.

    This is all in addition to salary levels that often times surpass that of civilians of similar positions. I personally have no problem with the higher salary levels. I feel like that is incentive to the military families and compensates for the demands of the job. But I feel like, the salary pays what it should and you shouldn’t get freebies from American tax dollars that the rest of America doesn’t receive, especially when our nation is in dire financial circumstances.

    Many military families can afford to have a stay at home parent because they don’t have to pay for housing, medical, retirement, or college. We MUST work two jobs or choose live in poverty foregoing college and retirement savings.

    So in recap, this is what civilians see:

    Your housing is paid for. Ours is not.
    Your medical is paid for. Ours is not.
    Your retirement is paid for. Ours is not.
    Your college educations are paid for. Ours are not.
    You receive huge bonuses every couple of years. We do not.

    I’m not meaning this to sound trite or unappreciative of your service. I just really want you to understand from a financial point of view how most of America lives and why they might truly feel that military families are afforded luxuries. I know the word luxury conjures up thoughts of gold bathtubs, but in reality it is “something expensive or hard to obtain”. How can these things not feel like luxuries to Americans when we essentially work hard every single day to pay, with our tax dollars, for military families to have these things that we can’t afford ourselves?

    1. You are an idiot. You should really do some research before you type a response like this. You call our benefits “Freebies.” Hahahahaha….. Everything has a cost and everyone has a choice. You can easily join the military for these so called freebies if you want, but you choose to want socialism. You chose to have Obama screw up our Healthcare. Good luck.

    2. Well said. And for the anonymous person who replied to you, ignore them. There seems to be this myth that anyone can just join the military. It really isn’t that easy.

      1. My husband walked into a recuiting office 19 years ago and signed on the dotted line. My son 2 months also walked in and signed on the dotted line, was very easy for them both!

    3. As a prior military person, I can sum this up even quicker:

      We put our lives on the line for our country, anywhere, anytime, anyplace – You do not.

      1. …and you were compensated for it too. It’s ironic that you have such a condescending attitude toward the people of the country that you protected. You are not above us just because you chose a career in the military. You are not entitled to more or extras because of it. There are lots of civilians that also put their lives on the lines daily, not just the military.

      2. Oh, I have to ask. What kind of employment do you have that you are in danger everyday, on call 24/7, and away from your family for months and months????????

        And nobody is demanding “extra.” WE ARE TELLING YOU THAT WE DON’T GET WHAT WAS REPORTED. Why are you so pissy that we are correcting this???

      3. You have NO idea if the person who is speaking puts their life on the line. You just really don’t.

    4. Two points here. I would have LOVED to have a second income and a two career family. But my husband was sent places for MONTHS. Do you exist as a two career family but one of you has to go somewhere for MONTHS, leaving the other person to care for children ETC??? DOUBTFUL. You both probably come home from your 9-5 and then handle life together. NOT POSSIBLE WHEN A SPOUSE BELONGS TO THE GOVERNMENT 24/7. So that point doesn’t seem to factor into our military lives.

      Secondly, you should try our health benefits. I went to the same PA (not a doctor) for almost 10 years. For ten years he simply refilled my asthma meds. He never asked ONE SINGLE QUESTION about any other aspect of my health. Zero preventative medicine. For ten years there should have been a suggested mammogram or Pap smear….NOTHING. To refill my prescriptions there was usually a wait for an appointment…most often times about three weeks (hope you are not really needing to see a “doctor.”) With this kind of health care I should expect to be dead pretty soon. Oh, and we just moved. So now the “free health care” is so expensive I can’t even afford to go to a doctor. My mom (not military) sends me asthma medicine.

      Also, Our housing is NOT paid for. WRONG.
      Our medical is not paid for. WRONG. I just paid the premium and now can’t actually afford to visit the doctor’s office.
      Retirement…..better have had a second 20 year career
      College education….just yanked away the assistance
      HUGE BONUSES???? My husband was in almost 13 years and got not one bonus??? Where’s our bonus money?

      How are you going to try to tell people that are living in the military system what they are getting and have it all wrong??? We live it every single day.

      You have the same fact checker as that guy who wrote the article.

      1. Oh, and by the way, you and your spouse can move wherever you want and make a living, correct? If there was a job market where you would make way more money you could move there, set up camp, live more comfortably?

        The military moves you wherever they want. Please google Twentynine Palms and tell me what kind of “career” opportunities you found for a spouse following their loved one.

        Sigh. I love trying to explain service and sacrifice to someone that doesn’t possess that thread in their being.

        Bottom line. We get nothing lavish. Not by a long shot. And if we were overcompensating our troops why aren’t YOU in line waiting to enlist????

      2. Deborah, are you enlisted or your husband? Is he active or retired because it sounds as if you’re talking about retired healthcare, which is not what this article is addressing.

  96. Thank you for putting this out there. I was a reservist who was mobilized for three years, when I came off active duty, my monthly base was 2607.00 as an E6. That boils down to about 16.29 per hour assuming a month is 4 weeks with only 5 eight hour work days. The reality was, I worked anywhere from 10 – 16 hours daily, often 7 days a week. In my “spare time”, I was still on call (and yes, I was woken up at all hours of the night – remember, the military is world-wide and operates 24/7). Taking the actual hours into consideration for the same 4 week period, my hourly rate would be 3.88. My civilian job (the one with regular 8 hour work days, with weekends and holidays off) paid me 25.00 per hour. Also consider that the working conditions would have sent OSHA into a frenzy. My Employee’s Association (civilian side) would have had an absolute brain aneurysm over some of the abusive behavior exhibited by leadership. If the workplace becomes unbearable at a civilian job, one can choose to move on. If one experiences the same hostile work environment in the military there is no “moving on”.
    Would I do it all again? Absolutely! Along with the hard times came some great friendships and awesome memories, and the pride of knowing I served my country. Was the lifestyle lavish? Not even close.

  97. I don’t want more services…. I want more money to spend on the services I deem necessary for my family. Oh yeah… A Citizen voted for Obama! Sorry that the Civilian world isn’t working out that well for you. Maybe you can join and actually feel this side of the argument.

  98. I was in the military and I now work for the Federal Government, and we have NOTHING compared to what we got in the military. We are not offered any sliding scale on childcare, we are not offered BAH or TA, or college benefits. I find it disturbing that people don’t seem to understand that you are getting a perk…these are not your rights. I am grateful for those who serve, but we are no better than any working mother out there, and we don’t deserve these huge pot of benefits just because we join and because we expect the taxpayer to keep footing the bills for these programs. Counseling is availble to all active duty through the military or the VA. Same with education, they may cut TA benefits, but you still have your GI Bill. I have never met anyone while enlisted or while out that has lived in an building with their families that is infested with asbestos.

    You claim you’re not rich, but you really are. You say you and your husband have been able to educate yourselves while he is enlisted. I’d like you to take your story of what you have and go talk to any normal working class family and I guarantee you, you ARE rich…and you didn’t even serve your country. You’re getting perks because your husband enlisted. Explain to the taxpayer how it was his/her responsibility to fund your perks?

    Enough is enough. I agree that they are taking out money from odd places to fix our debt, but you need to expect a sacrifice just like the rest of us. We’ve had a pay freeze for almost two (maybe more than two) years at the fed government and we also have periodic hiring freezes which prevents us from getting higher-paying jobs. Do you see me writing a blog about that? No. There are people out there who have it so much more worse right now than I do, and I cannot fathom writing a blog like this if I was getting BAH.

    Any mother out there would KILL to have your Tricare benefits. Maybe consider all of this in the future.

    1. Yes, Judy! They are perks and not rights. It really rubs me the wrong way when my friends (wives of military) complain that their housing allowance will only cover their housing and not their utilities, or that they can only buy a two bedroom home not a three bedroom for their family of 3 with the housing allowance. Ummm…the rest of the world pays for all of their own housing and utilities, and maybe you should just be grateful that your housing allowance is buying you a house that you can turn around and sell for a profit.

      Yes, I have never heard of any asbestos ridden homes, but I do have a friend that just moved into a brand new military housing suburb complete with a park and daycare. They are the first to live in the home and it has one more bedroom than they have children.

    2. Judy,

      Thank you for taking the time to respond. In my defense, nowhere in this post did I refer to our benefits as rights. Nor did I state the the military should be exempt form cuts. In fact, in my second paragraph I wrote, “This does not mean that I think our Department of Defense budget doesn’t need reform, nor does it mean that I am not in support of military and other government cuts.”

      While I understand that you can’t fathom writing a blog like this if you were getting BAH, I did so in any to clear up what I found to be misconceptions within Mr. Wood’s article.

      1. I was more responding to what I felt the general attitude of the blog was and the comments, along with comments off of his article.

        “I find it disturbing that people don’t seem to understand that you are getting a perk…these are not your rights. ”

        I tried to indicate that when I said “people” not you in particular. Sorry if that was not clear.

    3. Judy, first, not one single person is saying that all the things brought up are supposed to be given to us. Somewhere along the line people were told we get everything free. Which is ridiculous and stupid. We pay for healthcare, insurance, housing, etc. The military families here are simply trying to explain this to the NON military people who aren’t aware. If someone says “you get this free” and you don’t, you may feel compelled to correct them, right? We are not demanding our “rights.” We are explaining how are benefits work to those that were misinformed.

      And you want my healthcare? For 10 years I went to one of the military hospital clinics as part of my “healthcare.” I paid a premium for this. NOT FREE. I was assigned a PA. Usually it took about three weeks to get an appointment (so hope it’s not serious….there are thousands of other people they are taking care of) My PA refilled my asthma meds for ten years. That is LITERALLY the summary of my care given at the hospital. He asked not one question about my health or at any point did he suggest any preventative healthcare (I.e., mammogram or Pap smear) With this kind of healthcare I am surprised I am not dead yet. My mom (non military) sends me asthma meds. I just paid my premium and since we have moved and I am no longer near the military hospital I definitely can’t afford the doctors office too. So I am thinking that we are probably in the same boat healthcare wise. Feel free to keep dreaming about my healthcare but you may want to consider another option…..

      1. What are you talking about? I don’t want your healthcare, I have my own. I was using an example of single moms who have to pay for their heathcare.

      2. I’m starting to assume that you’re not the active duty member or retiree in your household. I cannot comment on what kind of relationship you had with your doctor, that could be a whole different ballgame, and if you were not happy with him, perhaps you should have suggested or asked for another. How much is your premium? I bet it’s pennies compared to what non-military members have to pay for.

    4. Judy, you’re wrong. My brother’s family receives state healthcare due to unemployment and their network is far larger and more comprehensive than what my family received through Tridoesntcare. And he only pays a ten dollar co-pay for regular doctor visits and 50 for the ER.

  99. Deborah, how long ago was it that you served? My heathcare was pretty on the ball when I was in the military. They did do a major overhaul a while ago.

  100. Something hard to understand is how you put a price on someone willing to sacrifice everything, life, family. You can’t pull statistics out of something that you can’t see and you can’t see the sacrifices that the military and their families are put through every day.
    In the 80’s my husband was in the military we had two young children at the time, we were on WIC and it was a good thing medical was paid for because on what his pay grade made we barely got by. We need to take care of our military they do the same for us!
    So a huge thank you for the men and women serving in the military and their spouses.
    And God Bless the families who have lost.

  101. I find it telling that none of the folks posting – how miserable the pay and benefits – are in the military can answer the following.

    Military pay and retirement comprise almost 1/3 of the current Defense Budget (read the CBO report). This level of pay and retirement is unsustainable.

    For some facts:
    Using the DOD provided retirement calculator, an E-8 retiring this year at age 40 (and living 30 more years) will gather in over $1.2M in pay during retirement alone (and that’s using low numbers for pay raises and inflation). These numbers don’t include any of the other benefits. By 2036 the military will have no money to spend on anything (maintenance, new systems, etc…) but pay and retirement. Read the CBO and QDR reports.

    According to the CBO report and QDR, as of 2011, on average, only 17% of enlisted members and 47% of officers were reaching retirement and receiving benefits (this is because of attrition). Think about that for a minute; on average only 64% of uniformed members get military retirement yet that along with current pay make up 1/3 of the total defense budget as of 2011. If the rate of pay and retirement benefits isn’t changed most of the DOD budget by 2036 will only pay for these expenses. These numbers include increases in the budget using modest rates of inflation and growth. Again these are the Pentagon’s own numbers.

    The SECDEF (the past two, and I expect the new one) as well as the CBO’s (Congressional Budget Office) own projections show the above.

    As to facts: all the numbers in Mr. Woods report came straight from the last Military Pay QDR 2011 (a Pentagon report written and endorsed by the military, every 4 years), he just reported them.

    If you have a problem with the numbers complain to the SECDEF it’s his numbers that Mr Woods quoted verbatim.

    As to BAH, that is a benefit that the military member gets tax free (as they do BAS and other benefits). This in effect lowers their effective tax rate, in some cases considerably. As an example, again from the DOD website, an E-7 with dependents (working in the Arlington, VA zip code receives $2724/month for housing, tax free – that is $32,688 that does not count as income (for middle grade officers it is even more). They can use this money to buy a house and then can claim the interest they pay on that house as a deduction on state and federal income tax submission. The E-6 (with over 10 years in the service) receives a monthly base pay of $3298 ($39,576/yr). I haven’t included any of the other bonuses (most of which are tax free) or incentive pay or reenlistment bonuses. If you compute the figures for a mid-grade O-4 with over 14 years the numbers are this: $6527/month ($78324/yr) with BAH, $2982/month (with dependents). This totals $114,108/yr. Remember they are only taxed on base pay not BAH, BAS (~$230/month) and other incentives they receive. Let’s say they buy a $450,000 home (pretty good house outside of the beltway and still within 45 miles of the Pentagon). At current VA and private mortgage company rates, their monthly payment including principal, interest, homeowners insurance and property taxes would be around $2500 (at 4.5% rate). They would pay interest of about $1600/month and receive a tax write off of $19200. Married filing joint with one dependent and the personal exemption would total another (including themselves) – $11400. Just using these figures and the current (2012) tax tables, their taxable income would be …. $47724. This number is reduced further by property taxes and any state tax you pay as well.

    But remember you get a $1000 child tax credit (doesn’t phase out until you reach over ~$100K/yr AGI).

    Your total tax bill would be $6289 – $1000 (child tax credit) = $5289. Thus your effective tax rate is approx. 6.25%. This is significantly lower than a civilian making approximately the same income (when BAH is included as part of their income). The amount of your tax is also reduced by charitable donations and many other things as well.

    You may say house prices are high in the Arlington, VA area – I know they are I’ve lived in the DC commuting area for 7 years. It is a fact though that $32,000/yr will buy a rather substantial house within a reasonable commuting area, I’ll be happy to show you many listings. Since I don’t get these benefits, my total commute is around 3.5 hrs each day.

    It is also interesting that some of of the individuals posting on this blog make factually incorrect statements concerning Congress’ pay and retirement as well. So should we lump them in with Mr. Woods. For the record, the rules for their retirement are freely available online as well (go to OPM.gov and read) , below are the facts:

    ————–

    As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions. Members of Congress under FERS (in place since the mid-80s) contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

    Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension.

    The amount of a congressperson’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.

    According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.

    ————-

    So the people that stated that Congress members receive 100% of the pay in retirement is factually inaccurate.

    These are simply the facts.

    1. Great post. The author of this original rant could learn a thing or two from you. Factual based arguments beat out emotional arguments easily. Well done. I believe you put this discussion to rest.

      1. You just made an emotional statement, Terrie, with no facts. That is the whole problem with most military spouses: they whine and make statements based on emotions not backed up by facts. That is the problem with this post. It all started with an emotional response to Mr. Woods article, yet no one (or very few on this blog) had the intelligence to click the links he provided in article as sources. The source primarily was the DOD’s own 2011 Military Pay QDR. He quoted it verbatim. Since no one in this emotional blog took the time to read this particular QDR all the arguments have therefore been emotionally based (prone to falscity). Very few of those posting on this blog (including the author) could win in a debate against a prepared 12 year old because they argue from emotion not fact.

      2. I’m not whining at all, I love my military life and family. Not really emotional either, just simply stating that my husband signed up after reading up on everything offered to him 19 years ago, he’s upheld his part of the bargain, just a little disheartening that people think because of the state of the country now things he was told he would be compensated with should be taken away. My son likewise 2 months ago followed in his fathers footsteps. Just saying its there for whoever is willing to sacrifice for this country and willing to get the job done.

  102. Thank you for eloquently putting into words what most of us are screaming in our heads!! My husband is ALWAYS encouraging his younger soldiers to sign up for WIC (and other programs) as they fall into the category of earning (so lavishly) that they qualify. Why? Two reasons…they qualify and they need the money to feed thier families, so enroll. Secondly, the more military that apply for WIC, the more it will be known just how little they really make. Just one of those lavish luxuries that draw the masses into our lifestyle.

  103. The truth is, they don’t pay soldiers what they’re worth, they pay them what they need to. Pay and benefit cuts lead to lower levels of enlistment. It’s a market mechanism.

    We have a great armed forces, but after 20 years of service, I’m for bringing back the draft. It would reduce the quality of the force, but it would also, keep presidents from foreign adventures that are not vital to the national interest. It would also provide an opportunity for some folks who are pretty comfortable in their freedoms to share the burdens of maintaining them.

  104. I don’t know why there are other people getting mad regarding what they all say “perks” that the military gets. Our spouse who serve the military is not like other working Americans. You know why? They put their lives on the line! To make it more simpler… They can get killed. Oh how I wish my spouse is like a regular working American that can get home every freaking day that my kids could see. I wish he is like some working American that I won’t need to worry if he is coming to us as a whole or injured. But this is the life he chose.. To serve his country! The commitment he gave to protect his country men. We are not saying the things we get is our rights. We pay our taxes every year like a normal working Americans. We just don’t have the same life as working Americans. Coz as a wife, I hate to admit it… Our spouses prioritize the country and its country men first. So give us some slack… Why not be hard on the politicians that lives lavishly with jet planes, eat at the most expensive restaurants. I wish that the people who judge and would like to compare their lives to a military life really walked and lived the military life. This blog is addressing the misconception that Mr. David Wood want the people know. To those who judge us… We want changes too. Like the blog said… I hope in the future you could see and feel our sacrifices as a military family. We are paying our dues more than we want …for your freedom and our children’s freedom.

    1. It is an idiotic notion to believe you are the reason we have freedom. Freedom existed for us long before you, and it will continue long after you. Furthermore, when you say you pay taxes that is also a falsity, you are paid with taxes. Our taxes pay you, so it makes sense then to state that we make sacrifices so you can have the lifestyle you enjoy. You live a lie. Sadly you will probably never acknowledge it.

      1. Mark, your freedoms are being stripped away daily by the current administration. Enjoy your keyboard banter while you can.

    2. So do firemen, police officers, border patrol agents and many other professions, none of which get the benefits the American soldier does. I’ve been a civilian working in DOD for 25 years, working on US ships and aircraft doing similar OPS the soldier does and get none of the financial perks (I do get moral satisfaction though). I’ve been deployed for over 5 years of the 25 I’ve served. All as a civilian. ITs not just the American soldier that puts their life on the line; its just the higher ranking ones that also make a very good living doing so.

      1. My husband pays taxes in both his military job and his 2nd job. I too work part time ATM until June when we’ll be once again uprooted for the 3rd time in 2 years (oooops there goes my self pity kicking in again!).

      2. In his military job his effective tax rate is much lower. Uprooted – the military allows you a household weight limit and they move you freely. They even give you travel pay and only expect you to travel 325 miles/day. They also pay your hotels along the way at the currently per diem rate. I know I’ve done it with my spouse when she was active duty. She never complained once and still doesn’t. I would type what she said but it was rather rude.

      3. I likewise am not complaining about being uprooted!! I love the military moves, we get to see new places and meet new people, and as you said the military does cover costs, again I never said they didn’t, just saying I won’t be paying taxes as of June, not until I find myself another job, which I always do as there is work out there for those willing to work. I don’t know why you think I am disagreeing with you, please re read my posts, and have a nice day!

      4. lol, Anonymous. Do you talk from experience? Doesn’t seem likely. I come from a proud family of firefighters and police. The pay still sucks but at least we have birthdays. We have anniversaries. We have pretty normal shifts and on-call routines. The military has it much worse.

  105. Just stumbled across this post and I just want to say a quick thank you for writing this! My husband and I are relatively new to the military lifestyle and I am floored by some of the misconceptions that people have.

  106. So sick of military wives complaining. You knew who you married. You knew what he signed up for. Nobody has it easy in this world, so what right do you have to complain? Most humans have it far worse than you. Most Americans don’t get benefits and vacations. You are privileged. Quit complaining. The original article had valid points. Look at the state of our country and the overall planet, in comparison the pay and benefits are lavish. As for the suicide rate, have you ever thought that maybe it is so high because these men and women can’t live with the fact that they traded their morality for military pay. If you were not drafted, then nobody asked you to fight. It was your decision, don’t expect me to cry for you. This existential crisis that veterans are facing is their own doing.
    In summation you are a privileged complainer. Lavish is relative, if you actually looked around objectively you would realize that the life you live is lavish.

    1. Mark you are exactly right. When most of the world lives in poverty, they whine because of the job their spouse choose (and is compensated for fairly well – according to DOD’s own official documents). From this blog I would glean that the military spouse wallows in self-pity.

    2. You are applying one blog post to an entire group of people. You know what they say about assuming, eh Mark? Many of us do not vacation ever. We do not have retirement funds in the making. We do not have adequate healthcare. We knew what they “informed” us about. Funny how they left out the information about dilapidated housing and playing favorites. Funny how many of the shifts work out to far below minimum wage. Benefits? Please. They’re barely making up for this atrocity. It’s easy to blame the people who stood up for their country when needed but now that the government is expected to pay back, they bitch. Also, there are many military husbands fighting the good fight on the homefront. Ignorance is bliss it would seem. How’s the weather up on your high and mighty pedestal?

  107. Why aren’t people fighting to get into the military if life is so lavish for us folks?? Before all these government cut backs marine recruiters we were working around the clock to meet their quotas, the door was open for you! You want to live like us, do all you can to get in and you too could have this fabulous life I so apparently lead!!

    1. You argue from emotion or from anecdotal examples. I think the military spouses feed on each others self pity. The facts don’t bear out your complaints against Mr. Woods article.

      1. I beg to differ, no self pity here. Just stating a simple fact that if you think we have it so good join! I didn’t once say his numbers were off, just a simple statement.

      2. The door wasn’t open btw. I have some supposed physical issue so the military wouldn’t allow me to volunteer.

        This whole blogs wreaks of self-pity. and self aggrandizement from the military and the spouses. You volunteered and it pays of rather well, especially if your spouse makes it to retirement. The numbers the DOD posts on the official websites are the proof. The actual number of military that set foot on the battlefield is low as of percentage of those who are active duty – Pentagon numbers say approximately 15% see actual battle.

      3. Once again I say no self pity here!! Love, love military life. I’m am truely sorry for you that you tried and weren’t able to get in. My husband is 1 of those 15% that has seen actual battle on more than one occasion, he loves his job, that’s what he signed up for. I don’t know why this is getting so nasty on here, so much bitterness!!

      4. Obvious troll is obvious, Anon. Go hate on the military elsewhere. “Facts” are always trumped by experience.

  108. Who gets free healthcare? My daughter is EFMP 4 ANd its NOT free. I look at my deductions and I’m paying for healthcare. In the civilian world they don’t give u BAH bc its just called your salary. The military does BAH to save money by tying BAH to the location of the area so that lguys in jacksonville,nc dont get housing allowance of a new York city. I even paid for my food and things at bootcamp. It’s called deductions.

    1. You get tax free BAS or did that fact slip your mind. Active military get healthcare tax free as well. And now the dependents want to complain complain about TRICARE; well it cost very little compared to what the civilian sector pays and it allows you go to just about any physician.

    2. I’ve worked side-by-side with military for 25 years – I am considered a senior civilian within the DOD GS pay structure. I get paid well, however, compared to my military counterparts my pay and benefits are much lower, while my tax rate is much higher.

    3. And by-0the-way I’ve spent 5 of my 25 years deployed to the same places the military has with none of the tax breaks they get. My wife never whined once.

  109. Thanks for the article. My husband enlisted in the military and now has made his way to O4. We have had almost 4 years of seperation over 11 years of mariage. When my husband is deployed, he is working 24/7 the entire time he is there. We are very blessed and I am grateful that our family is provided for. I however, like most families, use coupons, try and plan ahead for big purchases, and have to budget our paychecks. My husband is a professional and gets paid accordingly. Lavish is way overstated. A housing allowance helps to ease the burden of having to move every year or two. We bought a house this last duty station due to lack of military housing. We are now repsonsible for this house when we leave in a year. I will have to have two house payments till this house rents or sells. We have to make this decision everytime we move. I don’t complain. I am thankful. We as a family try to help out others who have less and give monthly. Budget cuts are coming and we will deal and change our family budget and future retirement accordingly.

  110. I read the article to which you are responding here and I have to say a very heartfelt “Thank You”. This was a very educated, and accurate, response to an article that I found very disrespectful to our military and the sacrifices that we make.
    Also I have to say that I love your disclaimer, it made me laugh out loud (my office mates looked at me funny). Your cat sounds awesome.

    1. actual;;y I didn’t find it either educated or accurate. Having also retired from the military- having served in both enlisted and commissioned ranks, while the original article is full of presumptions they do seem to be based on some, albeit not scientifically sound, research. The response s based on a dependent wife’s own perceptions. I find the perceptions to be even worse, because dependent spouses always think they are not getting any benefits from being in the military (see, I used my own presumption) and always complain. The way to do this justice is to compare lifestyles. If military members have it so bad, why are there more military members driving BMWs, Lexus’s, Mercedes, and other “rich people” cars than their civilian counterparts? I am not talking about field grade officers here, I am talking about enlisted and junior officers. The base pay for a single Captain is comparable to a civilian with a bachelors degree, which is currently at $5,116.56 per month. That is over $60,000 per year after being out of college four years. My son, a graduate of a military college, has been out of college 4 1/2 years and makes 30,000 per year in Washington DC, working for Congress. He has to pay for his healthcare insurance and gets no additional money for rent, utilities, or rations. The same Captain gets free healthcare and an additional $242.00 per month for food and between $903.00 (West Virginia) and $2800.00 (Nantucket). Adding that to the single captain with 4 years service equals an annual salary of between $$75,138.72 and $97,902.72. Based on these numbers I don’t think the article was that far off. Remember, my son must pay his rent, utilities, healthcare insurance, and food out of his total salary.

      An E-4 with over four years service, no degree required, makes $27,660.00 per year in base pay. Then you again add the free healthcare, quarters (free if they are single and in the barracks which are nothing like they used to be with multiple people in the same room), and meals, gives this E-4 a greater salary than my college-graduate son working for Congress. But if they do not live on base that E-4 will get between $537 (VA) and $2304 (NY), and their monthly $352 BAS allowance (food) increasing their annual salary to between $38,328.00 and $59,532. Remember, this doesn’t include payment for healthcare insurance.

      The military is a great way of life and the pay is not too bad. When I entered the military many, many years ago (1970) my bi-weekly take home pay was $110.00. I had free quarters and the chow hall. Military pay and significantly increased since then.

      Most enlisted members now make more than police, firefighters and nurses.

      1. Why didn’t your son join the military then? Who are all the Enlisted folks that are driving BMWs, Lexus, Mercedes. Of course you may see some folks that save or live pay check to pay check to seem like they can afford those “rich people” toys, but that’s not reality. I am not saying active military have it bad, but to imply that we are living this lavish lifestyle because your son’s pay/benefits do not equal/compare to an service member’s pay/benefits, is rather stupid. I am sure after your son completes his internship and sticks with Congress, he will be reaking the better pay/benefits w/o deploying, being in harms way, rotating every couple of years. For me, I took a loss ($50K) on my house recently because I had to move to Korea after 2 years in Florida. I am not whining, just a fact. I am not sure if others are/were in this situation, but it happens. Do you want to factor that into your calculations, Mustang? As always, I am proud to serve and do not regret it for one moment. I love my country and willing to die for it, if called upon. I continue to serve (24+ years now) and will continue so I can try to leave the service a little better than when I first joined.

  111. Aloha for the awesome article! Mahalo Nui Loa for getting the word out and clarifying misleading information. This is not a lavish life but a trying one. I believe people forget that when they are sitting on their perches looking in. ;o)

  112. Mustang ..when I was in my pay was 890 or so. I get where your coming from but here is a reality check:
    PEOPLE in the civilia world also have vehicles they can’t afford..hell-er! I don’t see it all the time but I have seen a few young bucks with vehicles that I felt they shouldn’t have..but I also feel that way about my nephew (civilian). I single soldier can ask to live off post, but that doesn’t mean his command will authorize the BAH w/o Dep for that single soldier, and they don’t have to approve him getting BAS since he has a meal card. What you forget is that this SOLDIER unlike your nephew who can choose to sleep in, not get weighed, not show up to work, quit at any time, doesn’t have to stand guard, get shot at, or be deployed doesn’t have that choice. You nephew can play video games, mouth off, quit, etc..with out being labled dishonorable for the rest of his career. The SOLDIER…not so lucky if he does it. There are a lot of other “facts” that are out there and have been posted so I don’t need to rehash them..but lets be real of a second…to say a military life is lavish as my husband a soon to be GO and I drive our 10 year old plus vehicles is laughable…

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