|A few months ago, I stated that
members, their parents, and other family members are complaining
that military personnel who are married are being given
preferential treatment at the expense of those who are single."
I explained that "whether it is housing, pay, or support services, unmarried
personnel seem to get left-over scraps." (Column
One, Dec. 19, 2005)
Much to my
surprise, I recently learned that a blue ribbon panel will issue
a report next month recommending that the pay of unmarried
military personnel be raised to the same level as married
The report of
Advisory Committee on Military Compensation, or DACMC, calls for
an end a pay disparity for single service members that seems to
have started during World War I and has continued ever since.
The committee is chaired by retired
Navy Adm. Donald L. Pilling.
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other military leaders about the
pay equity to some 589,000 single service members, the committee
will recommend two actions:
Eliminate the “without dependents” rate for Basic Allowance
for Housing and for Overseas Housing Allowance, thus moving
unmarried members to the higher “with dependents” rate. This
would raise tax-free housing allowances in stateside areas
by an average of about $5,300 a year for single officers and
$4,400 a year for single enlisted members.
the $250-a-month Family Separation Allowance as part of a
“consolidation” of special and incentive pays tied to
deployments and hardship tours. FSA is currently paid to
married members during temporary duty assignments lasting
more than 30 days. It widens the pay disparity between
married and single members by $1,500 during six-month tours
at sea or by $3,000 during year-long tours in Iraq.
premise of the committee is that military pay must be
competitive with private employers in order to
all-volunteer force. Given this necessity, the committee
suggests that historical disparities between married and
unmarried military personnel are hard to defend.
25 percent more in allowances to married members, on average,
increasingly is a source of heartburn to single members with
options elsewhere.," according to Tom Philpott, a military
affairs journalist for Stars and Stripes. "No other major
employer pays workers differently based on marital status," he
noted in a recent story about the upcoming report of the blue
upcoming report of this committee will not be the final word on
the subject. The findings and recommendations will lay a
foundation for a more extensive pay study that will soon get
years, the President of the United States
directs a complete review of the
principles and concepts of the compensation system for members
of the uniformed services. President George W. Bush issued
a memo last August directing the Secretary of Defense to
Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation.
will be staffed by Defense and service pay experts and a final
report will be sent to Congress.
study will be one worth monitoring to see if recommendations to
end pay and benefits disparity between married and single
service members is adopted or buried. If these proposals
do make it through the next level of debate, the ultimate test
will be whether the idea of greater fairness for single military
members will survive scrutiny by a Congress dominated by
recommendations of the
Advisory Committee on Military Compensation should give singles
in the military a degree of hope, but the ultimate test will be
how well those advocating the changes are able to maneuver
through the "culture war" minefields of American politics.
Unmarried America 2006
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and