Are Married Troops Getting Too Much Money For Housing?

Words by Mike Weisbecker, USAF

One of the pet peeves I had during my career was the discrepancy where military married to military both received their own Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).  I get why there should be a different rate for “with-versus-without” dependents.  But the fact that both military members in a marriage get their own BAH never seemed right.  And earlier this week, Congress announced a fix for this.

Here’s some math.  Using my current zip code, I looked up the rates for E-5:

With Dependents:  $1215

Without Dependents: $1005

"I have never begrudged the folks in this situation.  It’s just how the system is.  But that doesn’t make it right."

So E-5 Snuffy moves off base and has no dependents.  He has $1005 with which to find a decent roof over his head to house their earthly possessions.  E-5 Duffelbag PCS’s into the same locale with a spouse and a kid and has $1215 to do the same.  They need more space than Snuffy so that’s why the extra money.

Let’s say Snuffy meets another E-5, Grumpy, and gets hitched.  No kids yet so here is what they get.

Snuffy: $1005 + Grumpy: $1005 = $2010

Doesn’t seem fair, does it?  But wait it gets better.

Snuffy and Grumpy have a kid.  Here is what the equation looks like now:

Snuffy : $1215 + Grumpy: $1005 = $2020

With Snuffy/Grumpy +kid now at the same composition as Duffelbag’s family, Snuffy/Grumpy gets $805 more dollars to play with.  Snuffy outranks Grumpy.  The person in the marriage that has the higher rank gets the “with dependent” rate while the lower ranking still receives the “without dependents” rate.

I have never begrudged the folks in this situation.  It’s just how the system is.  But that doesn’t make it right.  My first reaction when hearing this explained back in the pre-Intertubes days was “well that’s fecking b&lls&(t!”.

Some are typing to the high heavens at their keyboards over this.  They see it as another benefit being taken away by congress-critters.  I disagree.  It’s closing a loophole that should never have occurred.  Why should military married to military get almost double the housing allowance than one military member married to a civilian?  Married is married.  Should not be a distinction as far as this allowance goes.  Just my two cents!

Reading next