There are currently over 70 different types of military pay available to military personnel. Military pay depends on a soldier’s ranking, the amount of time they have served in the military, their current assignment, special skills the enlisted member of the military may have, and whether the military member is on Active duty or in a Reserves unit. Special clearances also have an effect on the amount of money the military pays the member of the military. Along with a basic military pay, the armed forces offer an array of stipends and allowances for members of the military that take on special assignments or have additional needs.
How Military Pay is Decided
The Military Appropriations Act and the Military Authorization Act must be passed each year by Congress, then signed into law by the President. The Military Appropriations Act allocates money to the Department of Defense to use, while the Military Authorization Act tells the Department of Defense how it must be spent. Both of these bills affect the amount of money the Department of Defense is able to spend on military pay. With a larger military budget comes more military pay. Base pay increases every year with civilian pay, based on the Employment Cost Index. Additional pay increases must be approved by Congress.
Military Base Pay
Military base pay is the most basic form of payment from the military. It acts as the salary for enlisted soldiers, warrant officers, and commissioned/non-commissioned officers. It is given on a monthly basis and determine by one’s rank. An enlisted member’s rank corresponds with a certain military pay grade, meaning that certain rankings earn more or less than other rankings. Base pay is the same for all branches of the military.
Military pay charts break down personnel into different grades. “E” grades are assigned to enlisted personnel. Enlisted personnel includes any soldier ranking below a commissioned officer or warrant officer. They perform jobs specific to their own specialties rather than more general jobs of commissioned officers. The “E” grades are divided further from E-1 to E-9, with E-1 earning the east amount of money and E-9 earning the most. The E grades are also broken down into length of service; the longer an enlisted member has served, the more money they’ll earn. An enlisted soldier under the classification E-1 with less than 2 years experience can expect to earn roughly $1,450 a month plus benefits and allowances.
Warrant Officers are assigned a “W” on Military pay charts. Warrant officers are designated as an officer by an official warrant Pay charts organize “W” ranks from W-1 to W-5, working the same way as enlisted soldiers. The longer a warrant officer works, the more they will earn. A W-1 warrant officer with less than 2 years experience earns about $2,700 a month plus benefits and allowances
Officers are represented by an “O” on the military pay chart. Officers are military personnel that have been given authority through a commission or otherwise. The military pay chart does not differentiate between commissioned and non-commissioned officers. Officers are ranked from O-1 to O-10, and work similarly to enlisted personnel and warrant officers. They also have the same system of pay when it comes to the length of one’s career. Longer-serving officers make much more than those who have only served a few years. An O-1 officer with less than 2 years experience starts off at a pay of $2,700 a month plus benefits and allowances.
Special Military Allowances
Along with a basic salary, the military has an extensive list of allowances available to soldiers and personnel who qualify for them. The allowances act as a sort of bonus to servicemen and women who perform certain duties or have special requirements. Among these allowances are:
BAS: Basic Allowance for Substinance, to be used on food.
FSA: Family Separation Allowance, payable to military members who are forced to be separated from their family members or dependents for longer than 30 days.
Combat Pay: Military members who are deployed into combat zones are able to receive tax-free combat pay. They are also eligible for exemption from income taxes while they are deployed.
Hazardous Duty Pay: Military personnel who perform duties that might be considered “dangerous” are entitled to a monthly incentive pay.
Personal Money Allowance: High-ranking members of the armed forces are sometimes authorized to receive a special monthly pay to cover personal expenses.
Along with a salary and allowances, the military has a large list of benefits to aid soldiers with both day-to-day and larger life expenses that might present themselves. One of the most prolific benefits is the amount of discounts available to military personnel and their families. Restaurants, amusement parks, and other popular destinations offer discounted prices on many of their goods and services, particularly in times of deployment. The GI Bill has also played a major part in the education of soldiers and their families since its passing in 1944. The GI Bill was recently overhauled to include the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, often referred to as GI Bill 2.0. The military also offers an extensive healthcare program to soldiers and their families called TRICARE. Depending on a soldier’s rank, whether or not they are active duty, and their retirement status, military personnel may also be eligible for more benefits.
Recent Changes to Military Pay
As of January 1, 2011, the annual military pay raised approximately 1.4% for servicemen and women in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and National Guard. President Obama and Congress initially fought for a 1.9% pay raise; however, the additional .5% would have cost $377 million more than the current 1.4% raise. Additional compensations and incentives have also been added to the package presented by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Military personnel can expect more changes to their base pay and benefits in the coming months. Pay members of the armed forces will continue to change as the military continues to become involved in conflicts around the world.