Pay Raise in 2018 for the Troops

2018 pay raise

By Debbie Gregory.

House-Senate conferees have announced a deal on a massive defense bill, which will result in a pay raise of 2.4 percent for servicemembers. The $700 billion plan will also cover retention pay and bonuses, increasing troop size, repairs to the two Navy ships recently involved in deadly crashes, fund new ships and aircraft, and authorize new spending on missile defense.

The proposed pay raise would be the biggest increase for the military since 2010. The plan has already cleared several hurdles and now faces a vote before both chambers. After that comes the challenge of how to fund the plan.

Conferees rejected senators’ call to cut housing allowances for dual service couples with children. Under the Senate plan, one member no longer would have been eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing at the higher “with dependents” rate.

Married military members will both continue to receive BAH, with one spouse receiving the “without dependents” BAH rate, while the higher-ranking spouse receives the “with dependents” rate.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and leader of House Republican conferees, said all conferees had “the welfare of service members foremost in our minds. Some of that is pay and benefits but also, (considering) recent naval accidents and air accidents, it’s making sure they have equipment that works.”

Conferees did accept the Senate’s approval of a DoD plan to raise prescription drug fees, while encouraging greater use of generic drugs, on-base pharmacies and mail order pharmacy services. Survivors of members who die on active duty and retired disabled servicemembers would be exempt from the drug copay increases.
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Proposal to Cut Housing Stipends For Dual-Military Couples

mil to mil

By Debbie Gregory.

When it comes to finding ways to save money, the last place Congress should look is at military families, especially when both spouses are active duty service members.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is considering a proposal that would require dual military couples to receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) stipends at the “without dependents” rate, regardless as to whether or not they have children.

Currently, dual military couples without dependents each receive their respective BAH.  In dual military families with dependents, the higher ranking service member receives BAH at the with-dependent rate and the lower ranking service member receives BAH at the without-dependent rate.

The BAH allowance is determined by geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status. It provides uniformed Service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets within the United States when government quarters are not provided. For servicemembers stationed outside the U.S. who are not furnished with government housing, there is Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).

If enacted, this change would affect approximately 6.4% of active duty service members in dual-military marriages.

The proposed plan would save roughly $300 million over the next five years.

The Senate believes that the current BAH is too high, since the payout rates are typically higher than the cost of living in the areas where service members are stationed. But the Pentagon argues that BAH is a necessary part of military family compensation.

“While there would be some monetary savings in the BAH program achieved through implementation of a limitation of BAH payments for dual-military couples, the department objects to any limitation based solely on housing or marriage choices,” a DoD spokeswoman said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: GI Bill Spared from Cuts: By Debbie Gregory

BAH 2015

Housing allowances for Veteran students using their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits have been spared from the cuts made by the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA, which is essentially the defense budget, was approved this week by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. One of the most unfortunate provisions in the bill is the one percent decrease to Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for all active service members that will go into effect next year. The one percent decrease will cost service members and military families a few hundred dollars over the course of the year, but will save the DOD millions.

Earlier drafts of the NDAA originally called for a five percent reduction to BAH over three years. But the final bill as it stands was changed to only one percent due to pressure from Veteran advocacy groups on behalf of active duty service members. Many believe that lawmakers will end up getting their five percent BAH decrease by dropping BAH by one percent each year.

The housing allowance decrease was also supposed to affect Veterans enrolled in college with their Post-9/11 GI Bill. Veteran students, along with paid tuition and a book stipend, receive a monthly allowance for housing (MAH) that is currently the equivalent to the E-5 with dependents BAH rate.

A provision was inserted into the NDAA by the House Veterans Affairs Committee which exempts the Veterans from the one percent reduction in housing allowance that active-duty service members are in line to receive next year.

It is extremely unfortunate that lawmakers deemed it necessary to save money at the expense of service members. It is always important to keep track of what your elected officials are doing in Washington. If their actions are not in line with your wishes, be sure to contact them and let them know. Also, remember their actions when they are up for re-election.

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Military Connection: GI Bill Spared from Cuts: By Debbie Gregory