A fellow military spouse posted this the other day talking about Budget Cuts for those of us associated with the military, and those in the military. They talked about how we have such "lavish" benefits. When I read the title of that article, I literally burst out laughing. So, I came across her post, and had to ask her if I could share it here on my blog, because even though she's a Marine Wife, and I am an Army Wife, I am almost 100% sure they get paid about the same. Also, I completely agree with what she says about it.

A lot of people seem to think that people in the Military make a lot of money, but they have no idea what they do all day, night, weekends... overseas... Etc etc to get the money that we do get. Which, I tell you from experience, is not a lot.

Please, read on, and check out Ramblings of a Marine Wife's blog.

There is an article on The Huffington Post titled Defense Budget Faces Cuts To Personnel After Decade of War. When I read the article yesterday, it was titled After a Decade of Lavish Benefits, Military Personnel Fear Cuts. Those two titles say completely different things. Of course there are going to be budget cuts after a decade of war. That's obvious. The military fearing their lavish lifestyle is going to be cut back? That's a load of shit.

I've read numerous blog posts by military wives with their own thoughts on this article. Some were emotional, some were just the facts. I'll try to stick with the facts. I wasn't going to post anything about it, but I realized that a lot of my readers aren't connected to the military. They may not be familiar with our lifestyle, so I'll inform you. You might want to read the article first. 

First of all, the author states many things that are either untrue or misleading. Yes, in the past decade military pay did soar, but that's because in the previous decades, military pay was way behind that of it's civilian counterparts. The soaring was just to catch up. 

In the past decade, housing has been refurbished. For the most part, all military bases have family housing on them. There are some single family homes (mostly reserved for higher ranking officers and some enlisted), duplexes, multiplexes, and apartment buildings. A lot of this housing was built decades ago and has never been updated. In Okinawa, I'm guessing the housing was built in the 50's and 60's. Some have now been condemned. Only in the past couple years have they started to remodel them. At our last base, the housing was built in the 40's. When we moved there, the housing was exactly the same as it had been when my husband lived there in the early 80's as a child. It needed to be updated. You can't get around that. If there is not enough room on base, people are allowed to live off base and collect a housing allowance. The allowance varies by area and is meant to cover rent/mortgage and basic utilities, since that is what is paid for on base. Most people pay more out of pocket than what they receive for housing. We received around $1100 at our last duty station. That's not ridiculous for a mortgage and utilities.

The pay. It's public knowledge, but you can check the pay chart out here. The author came up with ridiculous situations and numbers for his pay examples. I would say the average person in the military is an E-5 with 6 years in. That person makes $2707 a month. That's $32,484 a year. That may be reasonable if you are single, but if you have a spouse and kids? Good luck. Because the pay is so low, many military members qualify for WIC and some even qualify for food stamps. Since June 2011, military members have redeemed over $101 million in food stamps. Also, most people work 10-12 hour days. They pull overnight duty, including 24 hours on weekends, at least once a month. When they are deployed, the hours are closer to 14-16 a day, 7 days a week. There isn't extra pay for that. It's part of they job. 

Speaking of deployments  When they deploy, they do get paid extra. There is family separation pay, combat pay, and hazardous pay. It's about $600 extra a month. Would you take an extra $600 a month to be shot at and blown up? I wouldn't. Deployments can run anywhere from 6 to 18 months. No thank you. 

One of the awesome benefits is free health insurance. It's only awesome because we don't have to pay for it. For most normal, routine stuff, it's not a problem. I actually love my kids pediatrician now. However, I once took my then 4 year old to the ER when he had super bad stomach pains. It was decided he had a retracted bowel. They did no tests on him, none, they diagnosed him on my description. He was then sent to a civilian hospital, where one ultrasound later, it was determined that his appendix was about to burst and it was promptly removed. I gave birth to one child in a military hospital, one in a civilian hospital. Night and day. People wondered why I was opposed to Obamacare (besides the obvious). It's because people will get crap care and have to wait for everything. Tricare is fine if you aren't sick, otherwise, be careful. We aren't allowed to sue if they screw up.

The military does have a lot of other benefits that aren't always considered. We have a store on base that's kinda like a non-super Wal-Mart. Prices get jacked up though, especially overseas when we don't have lots of other options. We also have a grocery store, the commissary. They aren't out to make a profit, so prices are normally reasonable. There are family centers that host a multitude of activities for family's and kid's, but they cost us most of the time. Tuition assistance was given to help active duty go to school. It's gone now though, thanks to budget cuts. There are daycare centers on base, but they cost just as much as the daycare's outside the gate and there is always a wait list. There are a lot of counseling services offered. These are free. They are used, though, for PTSD and other problems that come from being at war for so long. They are also used to help marriages that have the added stress of moving and long separations. 

There are a lot of positives to joining the military. However, we all know that no one joins for the money. I understand articles are going to be written, but inform yourself before you do. This entire article is misleading and just written from someone who doesn't know, or frankly care to know, about the lifestyle the military leads. If there is something lavish that I've missed, please tell me!

Thank you Kara for letting me use your fantastic post!

So what do you think? Do you have any questions? Be sure to head on over to Ramblings of  a Marine Wife's blog and read some more of her good stuff! 

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