Growth in military pay has exceeded civilian wages over the last ten years, but does that mean they are overpaid?
According to the Congressional Budget Office, growth in military compensation has exceeded private-sector wages by more than 25 percent over the last ten years. In addition, a Dayton Daily News article posted on Military.com sites the following military pay and compensation costs:
- $149 billion is planned for military compensation this fiscal year (28 percent of a $526 defense budget).
- More than $90 billion would pay for 2013 basic pay, food (BAS) and housing allowances (BAH), bonuses, and special pays.
- $16 billion is set aside for future pension benefits for current servicemembers.
- Approximately $40 billion pays for health care for 1.4 million active-duty servicemembers.
This data has some “budget hawks” asking if we are paying our servicemembers too much, especially with the threat of $500 billion in “fiscal cliff” triggered defense cuts.
In fact, the CBO suggests that the DoD could save money by reducing the rate of basic pay raises along with asking servicemembers and retirees to pay more for their Tricare benefits and to contribute to their retirement.
The article points out that “military advocates say many servicemembers have sacrificed with multiple deployments to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, spend lengthy time away from their families and are entitled to more compensation for the risks they face to protect the nation.”
Col. Steve Strobridge (USAF, Ret), the director of the government relations at the Military Officers Association of America, told the Dayton Daily News, “If anything, the hardships of military service are worse now.”Adding, “People tend to forget what it takes to serve a [military] career.”
But, it is not just a matter of fairness. Col. Strobridge went on to explain that military pay restrictions are “counterproductive,” pointing out that when military pay was restricted in the past, retention dropped significantly.
The question is, do the people asking if the military is over compensated really understand the long hours, operation tempo, hazardous duty, personal sacrifice and hardship many of our servicemembers and their families endure, especially in a time of war?