Air Force Sec. Deborah Lee James today delivered a to-the-point message to lawmakers who are considering cutting Basic Allowance for Housing payments for troops who are married to other service members: Hands off.
James said in a post on her Facebook page Tuesday morning:
I echo the White House and [Defense Department] stance that individuals earn military entitlements based on their service as individuals. Restricting BAH will have a negative impact on the recruitment and retention of high quality service members, and thus we oppose the [fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill] Section 604 language. I am committed to ensuring we maintain the greatest Air Force on the planet, and I will continue to advocate for Airmen on this issue.
As my colleague Andrew Tilghman wrote, the Senate is proposing to limit dual-military couples to one BAH payment, which would be the rate received by the higher-ranking or senior-most service member. It would also hit unmarried troops who share a home or apartment with other service members. Those who are in the E-4 or higher pay grades who have military roommates would have a 25 percent cut in their BAH rate.
Earlier in June, the White House strongly opposed the BAH cut, saying it would “impose a marriage penalty” and “have a disproportionate negative impact on women service members.”
James’ comment drew dozens of responses. Many said they were airmen married to other troops and praised her for backing their BAH. But some said two BAH payments for one couple was excessive.
“The military already gives us a paycheck on the 1st and the 15th,” said one commenter. “They give us free education, medical, 3 meals a day, and a roof over our head. I do not think we should be giving dual military couples two BAH for them to pocket. It is intended to put a roof over our heads not an extra paycheck. This is exactly where we should be making our cuts.”
That comment drew several responses from those who disagreed.
“Dual military couples do need it,” another said. “This is not where cuts need to come from. And for one not all dual military couples are located in the same place. Please wake up. And this is coming from experience.