by Amanda, Guest Contributor
The military is trying to cut costs any way it can and by military we mean Congress. One of the newest proposals is to take away the second Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for dual-military married couples and reduce roommates to 75% of current BAH.
There is a movement to cut BAH across the board for all military members and most likely BAH will continue to decrease in the coming years, but to target specific groups and reduce or eliminate their BAH has such a small savings for the military and in my opinion, only hurts those trying to serve their country.
BAH was created so that our military members would not be living in substandard housing areas. It was cheaper for the government to pay BAH than it was for them to construct living quarters. The original intent was not for BAH to cover all of your housing costs but some of your costs and it was never intended for the individuals to make money off the process.
However BAH has morphed through the years. The way BAH is written you get a set amount based on your ZIP code. It doesn’t matter if your rent is $800 or $2,000, whatever the set rate in your area is the amount you receive.
When I joined the Air Force I was told I would receive 3 things:
- base pay
- subsistence pay
Taking one of these 3 things away because I was married to someone in the military would feel like discrimination. Married military members are such a small group of military it seems unfair to target them and it is as if the government is looking for a way to force them out.
The military already does not allow married members to draw double dislocation allowance and other various entitlements. These all seem like fair things to take away, but
to take away part of your pay that you could use to buy a nicer house or pay down debt, in my opinion, is unfair.
When my husband and I were both active duty and we did not have kids yet we made a good chunk of change and as we increased in rank so did our income. We were able to make an investment into a fairly nice house that we still own today. We were also able to build up our savings for the day when we planned for me to leave the Air Force and raise our family.
Doing the same job, but not receiving the same benefits.
If the proposed BAH cut was in effect when I was active duty, unmarried second lieutenants would be making about $10,000 more than me per year. If those people were married to someone not in the military the difference was closer to $12,000.* And having a spouse who worked does not penalize the amount of BAH you receive.
Some people believe it is unfair for dual-military couple to receive 2 BAHs. BAH was intended to provide housing and if you are married to someone in the military you should not receive two allowances, some would argue.
But dual-military couples are doing the same job as their co-workers, but will be receiving considerably less pay if this proposal is approved. The reasons people get married are for love, starting a family or joining 2 lives together as one. It’s not to receive a income bonus.
But a dual-income family in all sectors is better off than a single-family income.
With a dual income my husband and I were able to afford a nice house, cars and vacations. Once I stopped working to stay at home with our child, we had to make adjustments to live within our means. With my career in the military having such a high deployment tempo once my son was born leaving the military was an easy choice for me. Mil-mil families require a lot of sacrifice and I was unwilling to make those sacrifices. I could have left the military and continued to work in the private sector, but for our family it was best for me to stay at home and raise our son. It does require sacrifice, but it is the best choice for us.
No matter what side of the issue you stand on concerning the proposal BAH cuts, know this– this is the only the first round of BAH cuts.
Right now the government is targeting married service members and roommates. Next it will be across the board cuts. The cuts will keep coming.
Right now the best thing for military families is to stand together and support each other. It isn’t going to get easier and having more division will not help us.
What do you think of the proposed BAH cuts for dual-military couples and service member roommates? Do you think the proposal is discriminatory? Do you agree with it as a budgetary decision? Tell us in the comments.
*For this example I used the 2nd Lieutenant BAH rates in Alamogordo, N.M., which has one of the lowest BAH rates I could find and the difference would only increase with pay rank and locations with higher BAHs. A captain would receive more than $13,000 per year.
Hi I’m Amanda! I am a former Air Force member who has transitioned to being a stay at home mom and Air Force wife. My husband and I met in college in our military training program. Since then, we have lived in New Mexico and Ohio and now California. Our son joined our family in the summer of 2013. I blog at Airman2Mom with stories incorporating life experience from motherhood and daily life while occasionally throwing in my past letters home from my Afghanistan deployment. My goal is to inspire others on their life journey and hopeful find some encouragement along the way. I love making new friends and would be honored if you followed my blog, liked my Facebook page and followed me on Twitter.