Troops Pay Well Above Civilian Counterparts
Soldiers earn compensation in the 80th percentile of their age and education peers, a new study finds.
It is one of the most politically sensitive questions on Capitol Hill: Are the troops getting paid the right amount?
A new Defense Department study suggests that the answer is yes, when basic pay, cash allowances, free health care, pensions and tax breaks are taken into consideration. When those elements are combined, military officers and enlisted personnel are compensated as well or better than 80 percent of their counterparts in the private sector of similar ages and educations, the study said.
That runs contrary to popular perceptions, shaped in the late 1970s, when military pay fell behind private-sector wages, and reinforced in the early 1990s by reports that several thousand military families relied on food stamps to make ends meet.
This finding isn’t really surprising. Young soldiers with only a high school education tend to earn far more than their civilian cohorts and young officers with only a bachelors degree quickly start earning good money.
Of course, their civilian counterparts aren’t being ordered to spend long periods away from the families in places where people are trying to kill them, either. That fact isn’t factored into the study.