poor payExercising his powers as President, on August 30, 2013, President Obama informed Congress that he will cap the military’s pay at one-percent for 2014. Per current Title 37 mandate, Congress can still override the President’s cap and send 1.8%. To do this, Congress would need to find an additional $580 million and with the state of today’s economy, that will be difficult.

What this means for a newly joined member of the Armed Forces (if approved) is a 1.0 percent raise that equals $3.79 a week more (before taxes).

The base pay for Pay Grade E-1 across all branches of the government is $1,516.20 per month according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Official Website.  This hovers just above the poverty line for a single person according to The Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (APSE official website

A pay raise of 14.3 percent during the Reagan presidency in 1982 was the highest pay raise the uniformed services received between 1976 and 2009. The smallest pay raise ever approved was 2.0 percent which occurred in 1988.

Let’s take a look at pay raise approvals for the Services during the Obama administration – you will notice a steady decline:

2009 – 3.9%
2010 – 3.4%
2011 – 1.4%
2012 – 1.6%
2013 – 1.7%
2014 – 1.0%

As reflected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index, military pay increases by law are now linked with private sector growth.  Military family advocates are seeking an assessment that would call for a 1.8% increase in 2014 using this Index.

President Obama has decided to bypass Congress by using his presidential privilege of dispensing the law and almost half the recommended 1.8 percent hike for the military despite the US Congress sending to the White House a pay raise for the Uniformed Services in keeping with the formula utilized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Partly to offset congressional refusal to cut spending on “outdated weapons system, the White House spokeswoman stated that President Obama is committed to “a sacred trust” with military members, but needed to reduce the pay raise, according to the Army Times.  To save $540 million that the Defense Department must pay for training and support, the Pentagon is asking Congress to limit it to 1%. For a savings of $1 billion, the Defense Department is also seeking to raise or establish certain fees in health coverage for retirees and military dependents.

At a time when forces will still be fighting in Afghanistan, military families and their advocates are battling this proposal of what is seen as the lowest increase in half a century.  The National Military Family Association explained to members on its website that Pentagon officials briefing military family representatives framed the 1% increase as a trade-off and that “They believe service members and families would be willing to give something on the size of pay raises to ensure funding for the mission.” Seen as an unfair choice as funding training and readiness are vital to the service member and the Department of Defense, this “trade-off” has not been well received by miltary spouses and should not be used for comparison.

Obama exempted troops from the impact of sequestration furloughs but non-military federal workers have seen their pay frozen for three years.

To see the proposed 2014 military base pay charts click on the following links:

Enlisted Members

Warrant Officers


Commissioned Officers with Enlisted Experience

Source: www.about.com

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