Social Question

Pandora's avatar

Do you believe our military are well paid?

Asked by Pandora (29733points) July 20th, 2010

I was just shopping at Walgreens and noticed a sign that if you can choose to buy peanut butter reeses for donation for the military. I asked the young lady how it worked. She told me it was for snack packages for troop members when they arrived home.
As I was picking some up to donate a lady behind the man behind me made an uncalled for comment. She said she wasn’t going to buy any because the military get paid well enough.
I was going to say something but then it would’ve gotten ugly. I’ve noticed over the years that there are many people who seem to believe this to be true.
However the one thing I found discusting was that it had nothing to do with how well they are paid. Its simply a nice gesture to welcome them home.
Should I have said something or was I right to keep the peace?
Why do people assume that military members are rolling in dough?

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24 Answers

marinelife's avatar

A private in the Army makes $16,794 annually. plus paid housing plus paid laundry plus paid medical plus discounted food and sundries (commissary and exchange) plus paid leave plus education benefits.

It is a good living.

That said, the attitude of the person at Walgreen’s stinks.

tablack01's avatar

Fuck no. One benefit is they get to go to a VFW and drink for cheap, and we all know how helpful booze is in when you have just been through something traumatic like war.

Austinlad's avatar

Personally, I don’t think anyone who has to risk life and limb for his/her country makes enough money.

Seaofclouds's avatar

NO! Even as they move up in rank it isn’t that great (unless they get way up there). Yes, they get a housing allowance. With the they can live off post or on post. If they choose to live on post, their whole BAH is taken by housing. A lot of housing is starting to not take the electricity out of the housing allowance they get. So now they have to pay for their electric as well. Yes, the medical benefits are really nice. When you add the benefits with their actual pay it’s an okay living, but it could be better. You also have to take into account the fact that the military owns the soldiers. They can be called into work any time of day. Their leave time includes their weekends. So if they want to take a full week off, they have to take 7 days from their leave time (unlike the 5 most full time people would have to take from their time). They can get sent away for training, missions, and deployments with little to no notice. Yes, it is the life they signed up for, but it still is something to consider about how great the military lifestyle supposedly is.

josie's avatar

School teachers, cops, firemen, and soldiers are ridiculously underpaid. I would still be a soldier (and I was good at it) if the pay was just a little better.

Blackberry's avatar

I make enough after being in for 5 years, after you’ve been in for awhile its not bad, overseas you don’t pay taxes as well. Although when I joined I made like 1400 a month lol!

Pandora's avatar

@Austinlad Ditto
@josie So true. People think that a steady paycheck makes you somehow well paid.
@ratboy Thanks for the pay scale. I wish I had it to rub in her ignorant face.
My husband is retired military and I remember many times bearly able to pay the bills. And we were not wasteful people. We made due with just the bear minimum.
In some places there is no housing and you get a housing allowance but some places are more expensive than what they give and you may live someplace without public transport so you must buy a vehicle. There are a ton of cost involved that comes out of pocket. If I was not able to work we would’ve really been hurting quite a few times. Having to give up a job and move to a new place was particularly hard. You had to adjust to the new economy in the new town or country and then hope you find a job. Some towns were so small that it would take months before you could even land a job at a McDonalds because the locals were always the first to be hired.
My son is currently serving his country as well. He makes out ok because he is single. But there have been times when single military housing was not available and he had to live out of town.

But it burns me to think that besides people having stupid ideas about military pay, that this woman thought that a kind gesture to welcome our guys home was not necessary.
I wish she would visit a VA hospital and then see if she has the nerve to tell me that a kind gesture isn’t needed and that the pay should be sufficient for their pain. AGGGGGGGGHHHHHH! I just so want to slap her.
@Seaofclouds Well said.
@tablack01 No kidding. :(
@marinelife I use to rent apartments to local military folks. I had to take there whold paycheck into consideration. Our 1 bdrm apartment went for 800 dollars a month. They had to earn a total of 3 times the amount they make. Which would include housing allowance. This was gross, not net. Net many of them only earned 1600 as an E3. That means half of that money went to rent.
The other 800 went to food, gas, car payment, insurance, phone bill, gas, electric and any furniture they were still paying off. Most were already married with a kid on the way. Which meant diapers and formulas and baby stuff. So they had to live on 200 a week for a family.
So many would miss payments and lived bearly on anything. Needless to say our apartments weren’t in the safest place around but they were the most reasonably priced.

talljasperman's avatar

generals in Canada make about $110,000 a year… privates make $19,500, lieutenants make $27,500… hockey stars $150,000+ and the Prime minister about $200,000…the pres of united states makes $400,000
I think most people are underpaid…

josie's avatar

@talljasperman Except the president. Current and last two or three definitely overpaid.

jerv's avatar

@marinelife My oh my, how out of touch are you?

Sure, that may seem like a sweet deal but you are wrong about a few things.

Paid housing? Not so much, and definitely not for junior enlisted. Officers have no problems there (RHIP, after all) but where do the wife and kids live as their name works it’s way up the waiting list for a couple of years? As for the single guys… depends on the branch, but generally the lucky ones live like college freshmen while most Navy guys get a locker,a coffin rack, and that is it.

Discounted food and sundries? There are a few items that are genuinely cheaper, like smokes and booze, but for the most part you can actually do as good or better elsewhere.

Paid leave? Well, I had to sell most of mine back so that doesn’t really count. And I don’t consider taking a week to attend a family funeral thousands of miles away where I actaully lived to be a vacation.

Education benefits? If you have time to take classes while you are in then you must be a stateside shore-duty person. And once you get out, you will likely still have to work at least full time to pay for college, at least if you live in the Northeast.

So tell, me, where do you get your information from? And what makes you think that that is actually enough to live on? I know that most of my pay went to food and I lived onboard the ship with a full galley… that I could never take advantage of while underway due to my hours, thus forcing me to eat out of the ship’s store.

Trillian's avatar

Uh, having served for fifteen years I can tell you that we are not over paid, and our COLA increases do not keep pace with real life. And the thing about housing is true for NCO’s and above, and there is a housing allowance for a lower enlisted but it really isn’t enough, nor does it cover utilities for a reasonably nice place, much less rent. And I never really had time to go to school either, mainly because I was a sigle parent. After 9/11 duties were stepped up even more. You go to work, straight to duty after work, stand overnight watch, and back to work the next day. We were port and starboard forever amen. Even before 9/11 there were shortages in personell and I generally stood duty every three to four days.
You also aren’t allowed to moonlight more than 20 hours a week.
Mind you, I’m not complaining. It was my choice to have my kids, nobody issued them to me. Just sayin’. No, we are not overpaid, and if you look at our civiian counterparts, we were not compensated equally.
Again, my choice, but if you don’t know anymore than what you may read somewhere, I’d suggest you not give credit to those assertions. Those of us who serve all have our reasons for wanting to serve our country, getting rich is never one of them.

jerv's avatar

@Trillian I don’t know about you, but as a single guy, my daily norm never exceeded 5 hours of minimum wage. I made better money working 15–20 hours a week at UPS (for only $8/hr!) than I did 15–20 hours a day on a carrier. You know damn well I wasn’t there for the money!

@Blackberry I started at <$400/month net and was getting about $1200/month net (including premium sea pay for being >36 months straight) when I left about five years later. Maybe good money for 1970, but not so great for the mid-1990s.

Pandora's avatar

@talljasperman Loved the hockey star comparison. So true.
@Trillian Sing it! True the military doesn’t issue families but than no one would stay in till retirement if it meant always having to be alone. Who would take a job with that requirement unless they were loners. But then they wouldn’t probably know how to work efficently as a unit.
@Jerv Maybe @marinelife lives in a very economical place where 16000 can go far. Don’t know where that would be, but maybe.
I know where I currently live, its not even enough to cover my rent. But I live near Washington. Knowing the cost of living of a small town I once lived in, 16000 would may have covered my mortgage and utilities but then I would have no money left over for food, gas, insurance or a car payment. My mortgage and utilities were just under 1000 dollars. To rent it would’ve been more expensive or I would have to live in a rat trap trailer.

jerv's avatar

@Pandora I live in the Seattle area, and the cost of living here is comparable to what it was in San Diego or Southwestern NH. In all three places, you could get by on only $16,000 year… if that was your net income, you made use of public assistance for heating and utilities, and got help from food stamps.
My wife and I combined average about $35K/yr and it’s tight. I’m not talking “can’t afford the cable bill” tight (we don’t have TV) but more along the lines of burning a sick day on the day before payday because we couldn’t afford gas.
True, there are some places that you could get by on that little, but those are teh types of places that I would rather eat a gun than move to so they don’t count.

And no, the free food and housing isn’t really something you can live on/in. Take the worst of school lunch programs and crowded prisons and you have a goo idea of why I ate out a lot in port and why many sailors pooled their resources to get a crash pad.

meagan's avatar

They usually are rolling in dough. My good friend is an Army Ranger and he buys new motorcycles like he changes his socks.
We talk about getting married all the time just for his amazing pay raise.

Keep in mind, that I’m saying this about single people. I’m sure that if youre supporting a family in the military.. it wouldn’t be so amazing.

sleepdoc's avatar

@ratboy thanks for posting the military pay chart. I think that those out there who feel the military a “highly” or “overpaid” ought to look at what their bottom line income is and compare it to where it falls on that pay chart. Then ask someone who knows about the military what you would have to do to make it to that pay grade. Most who don’t know about the military will be shocked to find out what they would have to have accomplished to earn what they do right now.

Pandora's avatar

@sleepdoc So true. Most people don’t understand that by the time you get to the higher grade a lot has happened to your body.
I knew an E6 (Staff Sgt.) in the marine corps who had made it to that level in 6 short years. I asked him how did he get there so quick. He was a paratrooper. He said in his line of work quick promotions happen because most guys either suffer from injuries that prevent them from jumping any more, or died in a drop. Hopefully things have changed and its not at dangerous as it once was but I’m sure some injuries still happen.
Others suffer injuries from doing drills over and over through the years.
Others suffer injuries in conflicts.
Others suffer injuries from a mishap at work.
Some suffer from PTSD syndrome.
By the time most of these guys retire out of the military, 20 to 30 years later most suffer from some sort of disabiltiy.
For every few you see walking about in there 40’s and 50’s fine there are a larger number that died or suffer from some sort of injury that has disabled them.
I know that when my husband retired back in 2000, they said that there is a large number of service members that don’t live past 5 years after retirement. The death rate is much larger than in the normal population for someone in their 40’s. Its been 10 years and I don’t remember the number but I remember the odds to make it longer were really crappy. I wouldn’t even liked those odds for an opperation.
Yeah, anyone who thinks they get paid well should take a stroll through Walter Reed Hospital or any VA hospital.

@meagan Yeah, being single a guy can do ok. Some MOS’s also may earn bonuses. However the ones that earn bonuses get them because of the following reasons.
1. You’re extremely educated and in the private sector you can easily earn 3 times or more for what you know. (So your underpaid and they hope with the bulk bonus, its to shiny for you to ignore and you re-enlist.)
2. It will cost way too much for the military to retrain a new guy to do your job every 4 years.
3. The job you are doing will probably kill you faster than any other job in the military or cause a severe disability.
There are also guys in the military who live above their means. (ton of credit debt)
But yes. It is easier to survive on your own than with a family to support.

Blackberry's avatar

@Pandora Yes, the only reason I feel I make enough is because I am single, when I was married with a step-son, my check disppeared the same day I got it lol. Although my wife did not have a job either.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Pandora You are so right about the injuries. My husband is 35, been in for about 14 years and has had 2 knee surgeries and can no longer run. Being a soldier definitely takes a toll on the body.

jerv's avatar

@meagan It must be the Ranger pay. Specialty training can rake in some dough. I went into Nuke school, which is hard enough to get people into that anybody who qualifies and enlists goes in as E-3 instead of E-1 and gets bumped to E-4 as soon as they graduate their first school (“A”-school), the first of three schools in the 15–18 month pipeline.
What they don’t tell you is what it does to people; it does to the brain what SEAL or Ranger training does to the body. Take every math and physics course you can plus a couple of engineering courses, enough to get 66 college credits. Now complete all of those courses in two semesters. Oh, and add in a little more training that can’t be declassified enough to make it onto a college transcript.
That might explain why so many of them dropout, and why any sailor who went to Power School (the second of three), whether they made it or not, has a stigma in the fleet as being nuts. When I went through, the attrition rate was atrocious and a frighteningly high percentage of them were for psychological reasons. Have you ever been so stressed out that you go into seizures? I’ve seen it a few times.

Consider this too; a Nuke that completes training can easily get a job that pays not less than $80K a year. Most nuclear power plants will only consider ex-Navy Nukes for certain high-paying positions. So tell me, would you rather earn $20–30K or $80–150K this year?

wshillyer's avatar

I made $72.000 a year before joining the Army (owned my own construcction company). I am 29 and have stuudent loans, small business loans, and car payment to make. My first year in the army I brought home $74 a month change. Granted i had prior obligations, but now i am stilll active duty and all i have is a car payment and i bring home $476 every 2 weeks. Live on that, have a relationship on that, be happpy with that! Shut your damn mouths while you sit in a office and my friends get hit by IED’s and lose there legs, arms, eyes, etc. Watch that for 18,000 a year. Pay your taxes and enjoy your freedom!!!

FutureMemory's avatar

I’ve never met a military person that was rolling in dough. Most of the ones I’ve known had a very middle class lifestyle, and these were guys that had been in for 20+ years.

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