It is still a belief that military families must make a fat paycheck if they have a lot of children with a stay-at-home mom and father who is always gone. This could not be further from the truth. Many times, the civilian spouse stays at home to raise the children because finding a job when constantly being uprooted can sometimes be really difficult to do. The military is not a life full of luxury. Pay is determined based off of the service member’s rank and is increased as they are promoted higher. Member’s do receive BAH – Basic Allowance for Housing – to assist in paying for their living quarters at each duty station, however, the BAH is determined by where in the world the member is living as well as how many dependents are living with him/her. Often, a member must dip into their paycheck to cover what their BAH did not, such as utilities and their personal bills. Even with these benefits, many military members do not earn near what their civilian counterparts make.
It is true that a member and his/her family makes more money when the service member is deployed. This is known as ‘combat pay’ and often is only a few hundred dollars extra each month. While this sounds like a perk, consider yourself. Would you risk your life for $600 a month?
Even further, many do not know that a service member with a rank of E-5 or lower only makes about $1,500 a month. Because of this, most qualify for government assistance, putting a financial strain on the family.