The double-digit inflation and runaway price increases we’re experiencing these days receive quite a bit of attention, particularly when it comes to working-class families earning modest incomes. What hasn’t generated as many headlines is the way these conditions have been impacting military families.

Military pay, particularly for the lower enlisted ranks, isn’t much to write home about to start with. But with the prices of virtually everything continuing to rise, some military families are struggling to even put food on the table. 

So what does the Pentagon plan to do about this? 

According to guidance issued by Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, soldiers may want to go sign up for food stamps under SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. As you might expect, not everyone is finding this “solution” to be satisfactory for our men and women in uniform.

“With inflation affecting everything from gas prices to groceries to rent, some Soldiers and their families are finding it harder to get by on the budgets they’ve set and used before,” the written guidance from Grinston reads.

According to one defense budget analyst quoted in the linked article, nearly one in four enlisted men and women can not afford to regularly provide meals for their families at home. This situation is clearly unacceptable but receives very little attention in the press. These are the people who may be called upon to go and fight in world war three any day now and you’re telling them to go sign up for food stamps?

The starting base pay for an Army private (grade E-1) is currently $21,999.60. That is far below the median family income in this country. Granted, that pay rate is for single soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and they generally have free meals available to them at their duty station. Married service members receive additional pay to support their families, but it’s really not all that much.

So what can really be done to address this situation? One analyst suggests that an emergency appropriations bill should be pushed through for the Pentagon, allowing them to supplement the pay of service members based on inflation rates. The Pentagon did receive a budget increase this year but they created no provisions for bumping the pay of enlisted members to counter the costs of inflation.

I suppose that’s one way to handle it and we may have to consider that in the short term. But a better response might be to demand that the White House and Congress figure out a way to turn this ship around and bring inflation back down. Isn’t that their job? But instead, they’re just plowing forward with their agenda and reminding us that there may be “a little pain” in the short-term if we hope to achieve “our goals” (by which they mean the administration’s goals). I know I’m certainly feeling better already. Our soldiers, sailors, and airmen might not be finding the humor in this at all, though.

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