David A. Bryant
Amy Proctor

OK, here’s my beef. It may be an issue that only my actively-serving and veteran brothers and sisters may understand, but when it comes to money issues such as basic allowance for housing, it’s pretty important.

You may ask, “Why do you care? You’re retired?”

The answer is simple. You never stop worrying about your troops.

The beef concerns the U.S. Senate wanting to change BAH rather drastically from its current form. As of now, troops authorized to live out on the economy because of family, rank or other reasons receive a set amount allowance based on their rank and geographical location.

Their counterparts living in military family housing have that amount automatically deducted and it pays for “rent,” electricity and utilities such as water, waste and sewage. Quite often, troops will attempt to find housing on the economy low enough to leave money from their BAH allowance to pay for those same bills.

What the Senate wants to do, however, is have you give the military your rent agreement and just pay the amount of your monthly rent for you. Electric? Pay that out of pocket. Water? What do you need that for?

Our elected officials seem to think our service men and women are made of money. The idea behind finding a cheaper living space was always about using the extra money to pay the other bills normally required of military housing, not to ensure we have some extra booze money. It’s rather difficult to keep drinks cold without a working fridge, so electricity is usually a priority.

Unless things change when the Senate and House of Representatives combine their two versions of the defense budget, BAH will be just one of the many things to fall to the wayside concerning benefits our troops receive for putting their lives on the line.

I tend to worry about what will happen to both recruiting and retention when the benefits no longer outweigh the risks of going to a combat zone. As the federal government looks to save a buck at the expense of the soldier, while at the same time screaming for a $15 minimum wage, how long will it take before it’s more lucrative — and safer — to learn how to say, “Would you like fries with that?”

Senators don’t seem too worried about that, however, as they also want to ensure women have to register for the draft. As hated as the draft seems to be, especially now that combat jobs are fully open to women, it may be the future of our armed forces to fill the ranks no one will want to fill.

After all, with the way things are going, it will soon pay a lot more to flip burgers than it will be to become a soldier. With both paying the same for their own health care, housing and every other thing the government can make soldiers pay for, the guy on minimum wage will have a lot more left in the wallet than the soldier will.

David A. Bryant is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at dbryant@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7554.

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