President’s Budget Released – Questions Still Persist for Military Families

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The Administration released the 2015 Budget Proposal on March 4, 2014, giving us more details on the Department of Defense (DoD) proposal we caught a glimpse of a week earlier.

The proposed budget includes cuts to military compensation and benefits which – if passed by Congress – will affect you as a military family. The proposals include a one percent pay raise for service members in 2015, significant cuts in commissary funding, reduction in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates, and increased TRICARE fees for some currently serving families and retirees.

We will spend the next few weeks in meetings and roundtable discussions asking a lot of questions about how all of this will be implemented and how it will impact military families’ quality of life.

Here’s what we do know:

Lower pay raise + loss of commissary savings + reduced BAH + more out of pocket medical costs = service members and families bearing the costs of flat budgets and sequestration.

Proposed Cuts and Changes to Compensation and Commissaries

The DoD budget proposal includes the following changes that will affect military families:

  • A one percent pay raise for service members in 2015. General and Flag Officers will have their salaries frozen at present levels.
  • A $1 billion cut to funding for commissaries over a three-year period. Overseas commissaries and those in remote areas will still be subsidized. Cutting DoD support to commissaries will result in significantly smaller commissary savings for military families. DoD says it will not close any commissaries but will a reduction from 30 percent to 10 percent savings discourage you from shopping at the commissary?
  • Slowing the growth of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payments from covering 100 percent of housing costs to an average of 95 percent. DoD will no longer include the cost of renter’s insurance in BAH calculations. This will be a phased-in cumulative decrease of 6% over time.
  • Modifying the TRICARE fee structure so some currently serving family members and retired beneficiaries will pay more in deductibles and co-pays. This may change the TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra options as we know them today. DoD says these changes are designed to encourage TRICARE beneficiaries to get health care from facilities and doctors who operate at lower cost to the government, such as military treatment facilities (MTFs) and preferred network providers. Medically-retired service members and their families, as well as survivors whose military sponsors died on active duty, would see smaller fee increases. Bottom line: if you go outside the MTF or the network, currently serving or retired, you would pay more.
  • Adjustments to pharmacy co-pay structures and establishment of a modest annual enrollment fee for the TRICARE-for-Life coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees.
  • The plan does not propose any other changes to retirement benefits. The overview recognizes the role of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission and the importance of allowing the commission to complete its task.

Proposed Cuts Have a Long-Term Impact

These changes to military compensation and benefits will have a profound effect on the financial well-being of service members, their families, retirees and their families, and survivors. We understand cuts and changes need to be made. But why should military families absorb those cuts while we remain a military at war?

Our Association continues to stress to policy makers the importance of the commissary savings, a realistic and responsive housing allowance, robust access to health care, and overall compensation commensurate with the service performed and the sacrifices military families are asked to make. We will continue to share with DoD, Congress, and other policy makers why this compensation is so important to maintain a ready force. Remember, this is a process. Add your voice to ours. We call on Congress to honor its commitment to our military.

Add your voice in the comments below:

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Comment: If Congress cant support the men and women who protect our Country, financially, emotionally and physically, then maybe, Congress should survive on a Military wage and live in the trenches of war.
Submitted by: armymomof3 on February 26, 2014
Comment: I pay that congress doesn't approve this. If these men and women fight for our country they deserve to have the best of the best. They're the ones keeping us safe not President Obama, he's not on the battle field fighting for us and our country. Please I'm asking congress don't let this happen to our military.
Submitted by: Toni on February 26, 2014
Comment: When this administration took office we were promised the military would not be adversely affected. “Targeted” is the word they should have used. It's disgusting and reprehensible to watch the men and women who not only serve our country but who work for a living have their pay and benefits constantly attacked when those who should be working for us- the government- seem to be bearing NONE of the hardships. "We all have to sacrifice," the president said. Well where is it? Why does it seem only certain sectors are being targeted while others remain unaffected and cushy? It's insulting and it's disheartening. As our first line of defense, the military and its members should be the last on the chopping block, not the first.
Submitted by: Jessica on February 26, 2014
Comment: I have a proposal to save money...take the billions that we give to foreign countries that want to cut our throats and add that to our DOD budget. Hell, we may even find enough savings this way to build our military back up, as in the Reagan days, and deter our current and future enemies in wanting to mess with us. No college degree here, and this was a simple thought process..feel free to pm me for details! Craig L Kaufman SFC, U.S. Army Retired
Submitted by: on February 26, 2014
Comment: As a wife of a US Navy Seabee I know first hand how we struggle to pay all bills. We don't even have children yet and we are just making it so I can't imagine how this will impact military families with children. They are putting their lives and quality time with family on the line to serve their country every single day and the country they serve wants to cut things they deserve.... This is totally ridiculous
Submitted by: Jackie on February 26, 2014
Comment: As an Air Force wife, this horrifies me! Most military families already live paycheck to paycheck and we are one of them. Why do we, once again, have to make sacrifices while the politicians live in their cushy houses and drive their fancy cars while taking our hard earned dollars and spending it on BS things. OR giving it to other countries!!! How about we clean up our own back yard first before we worry about anybody else and give the respect to the men and women and the families that stand by them. They made the sacrifices to make this country what it is and I cannot believe that our own government is the first to turn their backs on all of us!!
Submitted by: M on February 26, 2014
Submitted by: So sad! on February 26, 2014
Comment: We are all in debt as military members as it is because BAH an our pay does not cover the cost of living! We are forced to use credit cars to survive!!!!
Submitted by: Trex on February 26, 2014
Comment: It was with extreme displeasure that I read this morning another attempt to cut military benefits. As a wife of a US Marine who served in Afghanistan 2 times and Iraq 3 times, I am appalled that this is even a topic of discussion. While my family is fortunate to be a dual income family, most military families can not afford to work two jobs and pay for daycare at the same time. They are all tied to minimum wage jobs and end up working for just to pay the daycare costs. Since there is no point in working just to pay daycare, these families opt to have a stay at home parent and depend solely on the military income. Now we are trying to take the BAH away, add water bills to their monthly living costs, take healthcare that they so desperately need away by adding additional costs to an income that barely pays for their food. This is not acceptable. The people on the hill should live in our shoes for a month to see just how difficult it is already to survive with the military pay by itself. Again, while not speaking for my family I am speaking for the majority of families that diligently serve this country and risk their lives when asked to do so. I plead that you fight any changes to minimize the benefits that the families have and instead fight to preserve the way of life that they currently have.
Submitted by: Nensi on February 26, 2014
Comment: Is this ALSO the Republicans' responsibility?
Submitted by: CharlestonWolfgang on February 26, 2014
Submitted by: Jersey Military Mom on February 26, 2014
Comment: Please do not cut our compensation and benefits. It is a true sacrifice to be a military family. You can find many other ways to resolve the budget. This is the coward's way to do it.
Submitted by: Sanantonio_Rose on February 26, 2014
Comment: Military retirement and VA healthcare was my security after retiring from the Navy. Now that's not even assured. Guess I'm gonna have to run for congress
Submitted by: Dana on February 26, 2014
Comment: If you cut the raises with congress and the senetors you would be able to pay the dept in full! Stop cutting military! It's bad the we are the lowest payed of all and we protect by putting our lives on the line for you!! You need to look in house for cutting not military! One day we will going to war and you will have cut so much that there will be no more military to keep you safe! So think very hard before you cut the military!!
Submitted by: Reddragon on February 26, 2014
Comment: As a military family. We suffer the most, and cutting are benefits would be the nail in our coffins. We struggle already to make ends meet. We sarifice our husbands/wives so they can support the efforts to keep america safe. I understand that change needs to happen. Why does the little guy have to suffer the consequences? I know of several ways to cut budgets, but because of politics and greedy people they will never cut those funds. Congress sits and passes their ruling down without realizing the effect it will have on America. Just sad case of power gone wrong.
Submitted by: militarywife35 on February 26, 2014
Comment: They served you now serve them. Do what's right.
Submitted by: Cindy on February 26, 2014
Comment: This is an outrage. I served in the Marine Corps for 30 years and now you want to take away benefits that were promised us.FOR SHAME TO THIS GOVERNMENT OF OURS. Take away your benefits. Lower your pay to less than 30 thousand dollars a year. Not a chance !! You wouldn't see that happen! And now my son is serving in the Corp. I tried to talk him out of it knowing that this would happen. This is a disgrace! You don't even take care of the ones protecting your behinds!
Submitted by: Tina on February 26, 2014
Comment: This is total bull to ask our military families who already endure and sacrifice so much to have to hold the weight of the government's budget crisis on their shoulders. How about cut the president and congresses pay and include that into the budget!!! They are the ones with the spending problem and the reason our nation is in debt. Also we shouldn't be sending aide to other countries none what so ever if we can't even afford to take care of our military and their families!
Submitted by: on February 26, 2014
Comment: Military families struggle as it is, yet we give up so much. The commissary saves my family a lot financially and increases take away from our income. Our health benefits our definitely a benefit and regarding prescriptions the post pharmacies can barely handle the prescriptions. If we elect pto fill them on post the wait is usually 2-3 hours and people unless retired don't have thst kind of time. Frequently I pay copays for this reason alone and now I may gave to pay higher copays because I don't have 2-3 hours to wait fir my number to be calked at post pharmacies. If you gave sick children or you are sick you don't want to sit several hours to fill your med so paying copay is the only option. Nw we are going to ve punished by higher copays. Salary increases are being affected as is BAH all things important to military families. Our military family members put their life on the line every time they go to combat and give up a lot to be away from their families. My husband phase served 4 tours and the last one he missed almost the entire first year of our daughters life. He missed ours dons first soccer and baseball seasons to serve our country. My children and myself give muss a lot when my husband deploys and I worry everyday if he will come home tons safe as dies many of my military spouse friends. Our spouses don't ask for much, yet they give up snd miss so much during deployment. During deployment everyday they wonder if they will make it home to their families, all the while doing their job. Now they are going to be asked to give up even more if these buffet cuts rake affect and worry how their families will survive. Very sad there is so little respect and appreciation for what our military does and whst they and their families give up. It seems that our military is being punished fir doing their job, not acknowledged or respected.
Submitted by: on February 26, 2014
Comment: I think the budget reform is ridiculous! Military out their life on the line and yet we are ALWAYS the first group to be cut. What happens when your congress or senate or president sit with no security by your side. Would you be ok with someone cutting your pay? Your benefits? What if your husband was in a war zone would you feel it was ok to strip him of his bah that he needs to support his family?!?!?!? Does the government really not care how our military live? My husband is giving his life for this country and has always been the first to step up when needed and this is how we get repaid. I fin it absolutely horrifying this is what we do to the good people that give us security. Who are you going to call on me president if anything ever happens? In my view the military should never be punished. Pull your welfare receipants off the system! Stop making excuses on the stupid Obama care no one an afford. Better yet why don't the congress, senate, and all elected officials take a pay cut and benefits cut THEN tell me what you would like to do. It's ok to strip our money but not yours.
Submitted by: Melstark on February 25, 2014
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Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.

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