Poverty in the U.S. Military

  1. 8
    I had known for many years that a number of military families had household incomes so low that they were eligible for food stamps, WIC vouchers and other forms of assistance.

    This rings true if an enlisted service member is in one of the three lowest ranks of pay (E1 through E3) and financially supports a stay-at-home spouse with kids. This is a shame and a travesty. This country should take better care of our enlisted service personnel.

    http://baseguide.com/articles/frontl...-stamps?page=1
    SE_BSN_RN, jaad, SoldierNurse22, and 5 others like this.

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  2. 58 Comments...

  3. 6
    What really torques me is that while we pay our soldiers so little the government has no problems paying defense contractors and so many more bills much less important that those who are willing to give their lives. I don't think any major contractor is on food stamps. The facilities that employ civilians here in the states pay well.

    Seems like we continue the old tradition of sending the poor to be slaughtered while those who make the swords stay home and prosper.
  4. 4
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I had known for many years that a number of military families had household incomes so low that they were eligible for food stamps, WIC vouchers and other forms of assistance.

    This rings true if an enlisted service member is in one of the three lowest ranks of pay (E1 through E3) and financially supports a stay-at-home spouse with kids. This is a shame and a travesty. This country should take better care of our enlisted service personnel.

    http://baseguide.com/articles/frontl...-stamps?page=1
    *** I am skeptical. When I was in the army we never had money problems. Today an E-2 with one years service, stationed int he USA, with a spouse and child makes over $40K a year. Keep in mind that unless they get into trouble they are only an E-1 for 6 months and an E-2 for six months. Most servicemen will make E-3 in a year (in the army they will make E-4 at 24 months.
    E-3 makes more than $42K
    E-4 makes more than $45K
    Where else is a (let's say) 20 year old married young person going to make more than $45K after only two years of experience and a high school diploma?
    Even the lowly E-1 with a family will make over $3200 a month. Pretty darm good for an 18 or 19 year old. Where else could they go and make anything like that much with just a high school education?
    If you want to see military pay go here:
    http://militarypay.defense.gov/mpcal...ators/RMC.aspx
  5. 3
    While I don’t typically involve myself in these posts, I am going to comment on this one in order to provide amplifying information regarding military pay and benefits.

    $1516.00: Monthly base pay for an E1 with a minimum of 4 months active service.

    $1104.00: Monthly basic allowance for housing for an E1, with dependents. The monthly amount is based upon the location where the service member is stationed. This value is for Jacksonville (Camp Lejeune) NC. This benefit is non-taxed.

    $352.27: Monthly basic allowance for subsistence for an enlisted service member. This benefit if paid to all service members authorized to dine separately (i.e., service members authorized not to received provided meals in the dining facility). The value of this benefit remains the same for all enlisted service members, regardless of geographical location, marital status, or number of dependents. This benefit is non-taxed.

    The total amount for these three benefits is $2972.27 per month, or $35667.24 per year. This equals $19.05/$17.15 per hour based upon 36/40 hours per week. As an FYI, In my area, a graduate nurse in my area of NC starts at around $20.00 per hour, or $37,440 per year based upon a 36 hour work week.

    In addition to the above allowances, the service member might be eligible for the military family subsistence supplemental allowance. This is an additional non-taxed benefit of up to $1100.00 per month that the service member can use to raise her or his income to 130% of the poverty level. However, $35,667.24 is 154% of the $23,050 poverty guideline for a family of 4 it is unlikely that many service members are eligible for either this benefit, or most other public assistance benefits.

    Not included in the above data is the fact that there is no charge for health care provided to the service member, and there is generally none to minimal charge for health care provided to her or his dependents.

    Don’t think that I am implying that our service members are overpaid. On the contrary, I don’t believe that they are paid nearly enough for what they are asked to do; particularly the junior enlisted members. I was on active duty from 1976 to 1996. While I did not see many service members on public assistance, it did happen. I thought that that was a travesty then, and still do.

    carolinapooh, CrufflerJJ, and tewdles like this.
  6. 0
    I do not know if military are paid at close to poverty line or not,
    but, in the example above, in reply#3,
    if the soldier is not married,
    and is only being paid that $1,516 per month (PREtaxes being removed)
    and has a cafeteria available somewhere on the base, so he won't qualify for that add'l "no cafeteria" allowance,
    this is about $18,192 per year, before taxes are removed. Which does seem pretty close to the poverty level...?

    but, admittedly, i do not know.
  7. 0
    Quote from Jean Marie46514
    I do not know if military are paid at close to poverty line or not,
    but, in the example above, in reply#3,
    if the soldier is not married,
    and is only being paid that $1,516 per month (PREtaxes being removed)
    and has a cafeteria available somewhere on the base, so he won't qualify for that add'l "no cafeteria" allowance,
    this is about $18,192 per year, before taxes are removed. Which does seem pretty close to the poverty level...?

    but, admittedly, i do not know.
    Although this thread was titled Poverty in the Military, the original post referred to military families, as did the article included in that post. As a result, my post addressed that issue. As you have turned this into an issue with military pay in general, I will address your post.

    As you noted, the annual base pay for a single E1 without dependents, living in the barracks is $18,192. Using the 2012 poverty guideline for a single member household of $11,170 for the District of Columbia and 48 continuous states, $13, 970 for Alaska, and $12,860 for Hawaii, the $18,192 annual salary ranges from 130.2% to 162.8% of the poverty level. As PMFB-RN noted, promotion to E2 is automatic at 6 months if the service member has kept a clean record. This promotion comes with a salary increase of $184 per month, or $2208 per year. The annual salary for an E2 is $20,400. Again, using the 2012 poverty guideline, this ranges from 146% to 182.6% of the poverty level.

    Single service members are typically not paid either the basic allowance for subsistence or housing, as both housing and meals are provided in lieu of these. However, single service members are allowed to reside off base if they so desire. However, if they choose to do so, they will incur all living expenses upon themselves. If they are required to live off base due to lack of available barracks space, then they are paid the basic allowance for subsistence, as well as the basic allowance for housing, although at a somewhat reduced rate.

    However, let’s return to your scenario of the unmarried enlisted Marine. If he or she lives in the barracks and dines at the chow hall, it is without any expense to the service member. As a result, 100% of her or his after tax income is theirs to save, spend, or invest without any regard to monthly living expense.

    In addition, the enlisted service member is not charged directly for her of his personal uniforms as they are provided an initial clothing (uniform allowance) during recruit training. For the Marine Corps male recruits receive $1680.05 and female recruits receive $1744.30. After a set time in service, enlisted service members also receive a basic or standard annual cash clothing replacement allowance. Again, for the Marine Corps this ranges from $403.20 to $608.40, depending upon gender and allowance type. If they are good stewards of their uniforms, this is more than sufficient to maintain and replace items.

    There is also no charge to the service member for equipment that might be needed based upon assignment. For example, what we called “782” gear in the Marine Corps (e.g., pack, web gear, etc.) as these items are maintained by the military and issued as needed, although some service members opt to purchase this equipment themselves.
  8. 3
    Good information.

    I know that when I worked in Community Health we served those with low income, un and under insured people in the community.
    Off post military families were often in our patient mix.
  9. 3
    I found an interesting SNAP (food stamp program) income limit chart in the website link below. Apparently, a family of four (service member, spouse and two children) can qualify for food stamps if the monthly household income is less than $3,073 per month.

    Keep in mind that a family does not need to be at or below the federal poverty limit to receive food stamps. They just need to be considered 'low income.'

    SNAP (Food Stamp) Income Limits | Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger
    SE_BSN_RN, aknottedyarn, and tewdles like this.
  10. 1
    No one is forced to join the military. they all volunteered.

    Quote from aknottedyarn
    What really torques me is that while we pay our soldiers so little the government has no problems paying defense contractors and so many more bills much less important that those who are willing to give their lives. I don't think any major contractor is on food stamps. The facilities that employ civilians here in the states pay well.

    Seems like we continue the old tradition of sending the poor to be slaughtered while those who make the swords stay home and prosper.
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.
  11. 2
    I can make $62K/yr but if I'm trying to support a spouse and 7 children I'd qualify for SNAP. I think at some point people need to take responsibility for the kids they bring into the world and not expect others to pay to feed and raise them.
    Not_A_Hat_Person and herring_RN like this.


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