Tags: pay | raise | military | order | civilian

Small Pay Raise Marks Another Hit to Military Personnel

Image: Small Pay Raise Marks Another Hit to Military Personnel U.S. soldiers keep a watch over Shamirkot Bridge near forward base Honaker Miracle in Kunar province, Afghanistan.

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 10:48 AM

Military and civilian federal workers will receive a one percent pay raise over the next year, following an executive order issued by President Barack Obama on Monday.

The raise, however, represents another hit for military families who are more accustomed to a slightly higher annual pay increase. Last year, the rate was 1.8 percent, according to Fox News.

But for civilian workers, the president's order marked their first pay increase in four years.

The smaller increase for military personnel is expected to make it even more difficult for active duty families and veterans to make ends meet.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-profit think tank, estimates that 340,000 veterans already receive public money for housing, while nearly a million veterans live on food stamps. In addition, 5,000 active-duty troops currently receive food stamps to help their families get by. According to the Pentagon, most of them are younger service members who have large families. They represent about .01 percent out of the 44 million Americans who qualify for assistance.

Active duty personnel are paid according to rank, and many earn just $18,194 a year, far below the federal poverty line, reports Fox. But the Defense Department says the dollar figure is deceiving, and that an Army private with less than two years of service and no dependents earns around $40,400 annually when base housing and food allowances are considered.

But Operation Homefront, which helps military families and veterans living in Washington, D.C. area with food, rent, and utility bills, said it expects even more requests for assistance next year because of the bipartisan budget deal passed by Congress that cuts future military retirement benefits for personnel under the age of 62.

"We've really been shocked since 2008 to see the growth in the number of requests for food assistance," said Operation Homefront’s Jim Knotts. "Since 2008, when the economy really started going south, we've had a 400 percent increase in the number of requests for food assistance alone."

While the pay increase for the military won't help much, the raise for civilian federal workers was being praised Monday night as something long overdue, reports Reuters.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland called the move a "modest but important step."

"In the case of federal civilian employees ... given that these hardworking public servants have already contributed nearly $114 billion toward deficit reduction and some were furloughed as a result of the shutdown and the sequester, it is long overdue," Hoyer said.

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