Thecosts of health care, basic pay, and allowances for the militarypersonnel constitute a third of the Department of Defense`s budget(Bilmes 9). Military personnel are remunerated in three ways cashcompensation, non-cash compensation, and deferred compensation. Inaddition to getting basic pay, members of the U.S military receivenumerous allowances such as Family Separation Allowance and HouseAllowance. They also spend less amount of money compared to theircivilian counterparts if they enroll for college diplomas followingthe passage of the GI bill that caters for a larger proportion oftheir tuition fees. Also, they do not incur the cost of certainservices such as health and dental care and insurance coverage. Thereis a misconception that the military are poorly remunerated.Considering that the military personnel work in danger-prone areas,some people maintain that they are not well remunerated. However,this paper maintains that the U.S military officers are paid enoughconsidering that they get higher salaries and numerous benefits andallowances that are not enjoyed by their civilian counterparts.
Militarypersonnel receive three types of compensation: cash compensation,non-cash compensation, and deferred compensation. Cash compensationincludes enlistment bonuses, basic pay, housing and subsistenceallowances as well as additional income to compensate them fordemanding or dangerous duty. On the other hand, non-cashcompensations take the form of educational benefits, health anddental care, and government-provided housing (Kappand Barbara 1).The deferred payments include the retiree’s health care coverage.All the service members of the U.S military get basic pay,subsistence allowance, free medical and dental care, paid annualleave, and a housing allowance. Their spouses and dependents enjoyfree or low-cost medical and dental care (Kappand Barbara2). Additionally, military personnel get Hostile Fire/Imminent DangerPay. This is the amount of money offered to members of the U.Smilitary working in areas where they are prone to high risks ofpersonal danger. According to Kappand Barbara, allU.S soldiers working in Afghanistan, Iraq and other war-torn areasare eligible for either Imminent Danger Pay or Hostile Fire Pay.According to Kappand Barbara,American soldiers get $225 per month as Hostile Fire Pay. For thosewho do not qualify for HFP and they are serving in Afghanistan orIraq, they get an Imminent Danger Pay which is paid on a daily basisat the rate of $ 7.5 per day (Kappand Barbara 18).The married military personnel are also eligible for FamilySeparation Allowance. This type of allowance is available to theservice members with dependents who are separated from their familiesfor more than 30 days. The U.S soldiers who are separated from theirfamilies are paid $250 per month for the entire duration they aredeployed in areas far from their families (Kappand Barbara 43).
Additionally,members of the U.S military earn higher that their civiliancounterparts. According to Hosekand Shelley, between 2000 and 2010, the average increase ininflation-adjusted compensation was 25% for officers and 40% forenlisted members (44). Over the same period, the inflation-adjustedpay for the civilians declined by between 4 and 8% (Hosek and Shelley44).In 2010, while the civilian wages declined by 1.6%, the militarypersonnel received a 3.2% increase in their salaries. The same trendhas been witnessed in the country for the last few years where theU.S service members receive a relatively higher increase in theirwages every time the government adjusts its remuneration packages forall its workers. This shows the member of the U.S military are lessaffected when the country is facing a period of economic crisis. Onthe other hand, career enlisted soldiers get ultra-high paycompared to their counterparts in the private sector (Hosek andShelley 45).For example, an E-7 with 20 years of services who is also married andwith two children gets $ 78, 221 annually(Meyer).This is equivalent to what a civilian with an advanced college degreesuch as an MBA gets. Additionally, an E-9 may earn over $ 100,000annually. After working for just 20 years, military personnel enjoya generous retirement plan. On the other hand, the civilians have toarrange for their retirement plan with or without the help of theiremployers. According to Meyer,the annual salary of a newly graduated DOD`spersonnel is $54,000 annually. However, according to the Bureau ofLabor Statistics, the starting salary for most engineering graduatesis $70,000 annually (Meyer 1). On the other hand, American workerswho are degree holders earn $1,020 a week, which translates to $ 53,040 annually(Meyer 1).This means that officers fresh out of the military college earnhigher pay compared to an average American with a college graduate. Accordingto Hosek and Shelley, the salary for 23 to 27-year-olds enrolledsoldiers with a high school diploma salary increased from $566 in2000 to $771 in 2009 (45). This amount was adjusted according to theinflation rates of 2010. On the other hand, during this period, thecompensation for civilian workers decreased slightly. When themilitary personnel with high school diplomas were receiving $ 771,their salary was placed at the “80th percentile of the civilianwage distribution” (Hosek and Shelley 45).According toMeyer, onaverage, American aged 16-24 years earn $ 429 a week. If this amountis multiplied by 52 weeks, a non-soldier between the ages of 16-24years makes $22, 308 a year.However, a 20-year old officer in theAmerican military is paid a salary $ 37,637 annually. If the soldierhas a family, he/she gets $ 41,021. This amount is almost twice whathis/her counterparts get in the civilian sector(Meyer).
Apartfrom higher salaries, members of the U.S military enjoy severalallowances and benefits not available to their civilian counterparts.In terms of accommodation, soldiers who live within military camps donot incur the housing expenditure. For those of them who live offbase, they are provided with a basic allowance that caters for theirhousing expenditure, and it is tax-free. On the other hand, acivilian has to incur all his/her accommodation cost. In terms ofeducation, the GI bill allows the military personnel to advance theireducation by joining colleges and vocational training centers withoutpaying the exorbitantly high tuition fees charged by Americanuniversities. The aim of the GI bill was to ensure that soldiers getjobs upon leaving the military. On the other hand, civilians have topay for their tuition fees if they want to advance their education.According toMeyer, civilianshave to pay over $ 200,000 to acquire a four-year degree. Themilitary also enjoys free gyms, tax-free shopping and subsidizedchild care for their children. In terms of the number of hours spentin the workplace, the U.S soldiers work for more than 40 hours aweek. However, some service members spend less than 40 hours a weekin their places of work. Besides, some of the hours that the soldiersare presumed to be working are spent surfing the internet, playingsoftball, working out in the gym, and getting a haircut. More so, thesoldiers enjoy 12 days of paid federal holidays. Additionally, theyenjoy 30 days of guaranteed leave every year. They also get paid sickleave while only approximately 40% of Americans receives salaries forthe days they do not report to work as a result of being ill (Meyer1). These statistics show that the military personnel are paid highlyto their civilian counterparts.
Militarypersonnel receive different salaries depending on their ranks andtasks assigned to them. On this note, some troops have advancedcollege degrees. However, in comparison to their civiliancounterparts, these officers are paid to acquire degrees. In theprivate sector, no company pays its workers to enroll and attendcollege. When compared to the civilians, the average salary for amilitary officer with an advanced degree is twice that of theircivilian counterparts with the same level of education. This isbecause civilians with an advanced degree earn $ 68,068 annually,while their military counterparts get $ 136,000(Meyer). Itis apparent that military service members sacrifice much of theireffort and time to serve the country, especially during overseasdeployments. Besides, their occupation is more dangerous compared tomost of the civilian jobs in the country, and this shows that theyoften risk their lives while protecting the country from its externalenemies. However, the involvement of the U.S. in external conflictssuch as those that occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq incurred massivecosts to the government in terms of the provision of lifetime medicalcare for the soldiers deployed in these areas (Bilmes 1). The opinionby Bilmes appears to suggest that the government should not paymilitary personnel more considering that the defense budget isalready high. The largest liabilities incurred by the Americanmilitary’s budget include the provision of disability benefits andmedical care to war veterans (Bilmes 2). Although these benefitsincrease the military spending significantly, the government does nothave an alternative considering that veterans provided exceptionalservices to the nation. Individuals that propose an increase in thesize of the military have the opinion that safety in some regions ofthe world is as a result of U.S. military’s engagement in warhotspots (Drezner 52). It would be difficult to maintain the peace insome regions when the government slashes the military expenditure,especially the compensation packages.
Thepredominance of the U.S. military calls for their presence in thewar-torn areas where they help their counterparts from other parts ofthe world. Therefore, the government is responsible for ensuring thatit provides the appropriate benefits to military personnel. However,fiscal conservatives argue that the defense budget should not bereduced since one cannot compare the power of the U.S. military tothat of other countries (Drezner 56). Slashing the military budgetsmight not be a solution since this would imply that the country wouldexpose itself to external threats. The different units of theAmerican forces would find it difficult to find people who arewilling to enlist if the salary is not sufficient. Nevertheless,increasing the wages of the military personnel might be a blow to thecountry’s economy.
Thesalaries provided to the military personnel constitute a portion ofthe defense budget, considering that other funds go into financingthe wars, veterans’ compensation, and acquisition of equipment. Thecost of health care, salaries and allowances constitute a third ofthe defense budget (Bilmes 9). Some of the benefits that thepersonnel receive include a health coverage that also incorporatestheir family members. In terms of insurance, the soldiers in theAmerican military enjoy full coverage while most civilians partnerwith their employers when it comes to paying for the insurance. Interms of insurance, the cost of civilian coverage doubled between2000 and 2010. In 2010, individuals seeking for a health insuranceplan had to pay approximately $ 14,000 (Hosek and Shelley 46). Theremainder was paid on behalf of the employee by his/her employer. Onthe other hand, the military officers do not incur any cost for theirhealth care. Besides, their dependents are eligible for the TRICARE,at any of its three levels of coverage which are prime, standard, orextra. According to Bilmes, in 2013, TRICARE increased from $18billion to $ 56 billion and accounted for 8% of the U.S defensebudget (9). Although the military personnel have the right to receive suchbenefits due to the services they offer to the nation, the kind ofcompensation they receive place them in a better position than mostcivilians.
Payingthe military personnel more than their current salaries means thatthe government has to allocate more funds to the defense budget orreduce the number of officers that serve in the forces. These twooptions are the only ones that the government has to contend with toprevent going into a debt crisis. However, a state can only developits economy when it defends its borders against security threats(Drezner 60). This means that the reduction of the size of the U.Smilitary is not a shrewd move. Besides, the retention of the militaryin the war hotspots not only promotes regional peace but it is alsobeneficial to the nation’s economy. War operations require asignificant amount of funding, and the government has to borrow fundswhen enormous amounts of money are required. For instance, thenational debt increased by $2 trillion because of the war in theMiddle East (Bilmes 3). As such, if the military has to maintain thesame number of personnel, the salaries would remain the same.
Inconclusion, one might evaluate the issue of military salaries from adifferent angle by pointing out that the United States servicemembers and those in the enlisted ranks have more responsibilitiescompared to civilian workers. However, the morality of payingmilitary personnel more than their current salaries should notdisregard economic factors. A comparison of the basic pay forcivilians and the military personnel shows that the later earnsrelatively higher salaries compared to former. For instance, membersof the U.S military with advanced degrees are paid almost double whattheir counterparts with a similar level of education but working inthe civilian sector get. More so, the military enjoys numerousbenefits such as education opportunities following the passing of theGI bill, House Allowance, free health and dental care as well as acomprehensive insurance coverage. Besides, their dependants get toaccess certain services such as health and dental care at asubsidized price. The benefits that the military personnel receivesare also sufficient to cover for their medical needs, as well as tosupport their families. However, increasing the wages of the militarypersonnel might be a blow to the country’s economy. This paper hasdemonstrated that the military personnel paid are enough consideringtheir job requirements such as the number of hours they serve andtheir education in comparison to their counterparts in the privatesector.
Drezner,Daniel W. "Military Primacy Doesn`t Pay (Nearly As Much As YouThink)." InternationalSecurity38.1 (2013): 52-79.
Bilmes,Linda. "The Financial Legacy of Iraq And Afghanistan: HowWartime Spending Decisions Will Constrain Future National SecurityBudgets." Harvard Kennedy School, (2013). Web. Accessed 13 Sept.2016.
Hosek,James, and Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth. "Economic conditions ofmilitary families." TheFuture of Children 23.2(2013): 41-59.
Kapp,Lawrence, and Barbara Salazar Torreon. ": KeyQuestions and Answers." (2015). Web. Accessed on December 12,2016.
Meyer,Carlton. “The myth of low military pay.” Truth-out 27 Feb. 2011.Web. Accessed on December 12, 2016.