READ NOW! Is a $13,000 Pay Cut Coming?

What would you do if you heard your salary was going to be cut by as much as $13,000 a year?

That’s what could happen to thousands of active duty service members if the Senate is able to convince the House of Representatives to accept their proposed changes to the Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) for Dual Military Couples.

The plan? Here is the exact wording from Sec. 604 of the proposed National Defense Authorization Act  (NDAA) currently waiting to be debated on the Senate floor sometime this month:


Single Allowance for Married Members Assigned for Duty Within Normal Commuting Distance – In the event two members of the uniformed services entitled to receive a basic allowance for housing under this section are married to one another and are each assigned for duty within normal commuting distance, basic allowance for housing under this section shall be paid only to the member having the higher pay grade, or to the member having rank in grade if both members have the same pay grade, and at the rate payable for a member of such pay grade with dependents (regardless of whether or not such members have dependents).


Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) came up with this proposal in order to save the government money. They did not seem to consider the fact that BAH is an essential part of a compensation package used to recruit and retain military service members. If Congress removes an entitlement based only on the marital status of a service member, it sets a precedent for further discrimination and possible cuts that would apply only to a specific population in the military community.

BAH is tax free and changes in amount according to the area where one lives. This saves the government money in the long run because they can pay a lower BAH to those living in less expensive cities and states. If an appropriate salary were to replace BAH, the military service member would pay taxes on the increase but the government would have to come up with a figure that was equal across the board, no matter where people lived. They would have to pay a comparable civilian salary for some of the most expensive places in the United States, like San Diego, California and Washington DC, no matter where anyone lived. Replacing part of military salary with BAH already saves the government a lot of money.

There is an uproar within the military community, but not only against this proposal. Many actually support it:


It’s double dipping and should be removed. Why should for example an E5 married with civilian working wife and 2 kids get one bah while same exams but both parents in military get 2 bah. Doesn’t make sense and needs to be cut.

Good about time they eliminate dual BAH for Mil2Mil. BAH is meant to compensate housing costs for your HOUSEHOLD commensurate to the local civil an area. It was never meant to be an entitlement for each member.

BAH is to cover housing – not to get a windfall because two of you are drawing an allowance to pay for the same house.

IMO, they don’t need double the BAH because they are presumably living in the same house. I don’t see it as being penalized at all. It’s unnecessary.

Comments from the Keep Your Promise Facebook page


But the uproar against this proposal is far louder. A petition to the White House to prevent this cut has garnered almost 30,000 signatures in just 5 days. And who are the folks that are most upset?

Dual enlisted couples are at the top of the list. This cut will affect the non-commissioned officer corps far more than officers. According to a report from Military One Source, 80% of all dual military marriages are among enlisted members. The bulk of those are E-5 to E-6, the very heart of our Armed Services, at almost 40%. The second largest group are the youngest, E-1 through E-4, at 28%.



The second most vocal group will likely be women, both enlisted and officers. According to the Pew Research Center, “almost half of all married military women (48%) have wed a fellow service member, while the share of men in dual-military marriages is only 7%.”

Dual BAH married couple cut

This means the BAH cut will disproportionately affect active duty women.

Women in the military already face discrimination on many levels but it seems the ultimate slap in the face might be Congress telling them they are not as deserving of their full entitlement package just because they married a fellow service member.

Commenters over at Keep Your Promise point out that when most dual military couples manage to get assigned together, they find themselves in one of the most expensive rental markets in the United States, Washington DC. In this steep market, dual BAH allows these military families the supposed luxury of living closer to work, to school, and to child care meaning that the family can actually spend more quality time together. The longer the commute, for either partner, the more hardship on the family.

With a single BAH, most families struggle to make rent in costly markets but many make it work because the civilian spouse earns a salary that does not break out housing as a separate entitlement. In fact, some are wondering that if Congress can take BAH from one active duty member because their spouse is military, could they also take partial BAH from a family with two working parents? It isn’t as far fetched as you might think. The current proposal includes cuts to military service members who are not married but chose each other as roommates. Congress can be as permissive as we allow them to be when it comes to cuts like these.

The Air Force will be the next in line to fight these cuts. Military One Source points out the USAF has the highest number of dual military families at 14.5% for officers and 20.9% for enlisted. The Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, is looking to increase diversity and recently commanded the branch to increase opportunities for women. She points out that though the Air Force recruits a diverse force, they lose diversity when it comes time to re-enlist or to extend active duty service commitment. Proposals like the dual BAH cut will do more harm than good when dual military couples have to make the choice on whether to stay or to go. The odds are that more women than men will leave making it even more difficult to maintain high levels of diversity.

That same report says that only 11.3% of the Armed Forces are dual military couples. Even fewer are assigned to the same location. The amount of money that Congress could save in this cut is minimal yet the impact to the average dual military couple is huge.

Why would Senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham even want to go down this road? We’re not sure, but we encourage to call and ask. While you’re at it, please contact your own Senators and Representatives and ask them too.  Click here to help find your own senator.


16 Replies to “READ NOW! Is a $13,000 Pay Cut Coming?”

  1. This is totally none of the two senators business. They are no longer active duty service members and are totally out of touch with the households of today’s military. These people are the boots on the ground that are the engine that facilitate the success of our military.

    It appears to me that today’s politicians (on both sides) would rather spend valuable time on attempting to gain cheap points for their political constituents and parties rather than anything of real substance. In this particular situation, it is for the sake of faking to be a frugal conservative in regards to spending (as they cherry pick situations that work best for their political careers) that’s more important than the careers, health, lives or families of active duty service members.

    So what happens when the active duty couple gets a divorce or are going through a separation? Does this proposal assist that situation or does it get even more toxic because the two begin to fight over money to pay their individual rent or mortgage because they are in separate residence?

    Senator McCain, your one of my favorite former aviators and a fellow USS Forrestal CV-59 fraternity comrade (even though I served on the FID a decade after you) , I am truly disappointed with your decision to take away from an all volunteer force of men and women who ensure that our nation, potential advisories and known enemies continue to hear “the sound of freedom” as aircraft launch off the waist and bow of the worlds most powerful military vessels .

    As your political career is rapidly coming to an end, it seems as if you are selling out your wonderful legacy, especially by concurring with a political colleague who has no business being mentioned in the same universe with your personal and military success.

    You did not sell out your comrades as a POW, you truly know the untold sacrifices active duty and veterans face, this includes living with visible and invisible scares of which you know last a lifetime. So enough with the silly games and support our active duty service men, women and their families.


    Wes E. Etheridge Sr., ABH-1 USN (Ret.)MTS/DCAMF
    Veterans Advocate

  2. Edward Iwanski, MSGT NYANG (RET) says:

    Although I retired from NYANG, I served on active duty for over six years. In my not-so-humble opinion, Jim and Jane should not receive twice what Jack and Jill next door receive just because they are both active members.

    1. If Jill worked outside the home, they’d be making just as much. There is no reason to cut someone’s entitlements just because of who they married.

  3. Don (Navy Ret) says:

    Maybe. IF THEY MAKE A SIMILAR CUT IN WELFARE. If a welfare recipient receives money based on 3 kids and has another, they get welfare based now on 2 kids

  4. Watching friends in the military get married to another service member just to get the dual BAH drives me crazy. I also have friends that collect dual BAH and use it to buy rental properties while I struggle to find housing for me and my family as the sole provider because my wife stayed at home with our children because if she didn’t we couldn’t afford both day car rand our house paymentt. Changes need to be made and I for one am glad to see this change. If both service members live in the same house why are both collecting a housing allotment for a house.

    1. Your wife can serve in the military just as much as any other. If you have half the number of adults in the home working, don’t get pissy because you only get half the income. My husband and I use to be duel military. We didn’t marry to double dip. In fact when we first married only 1 of us was allowed BAH, and at the “without dependant” rate because an active duty spouse is not a dependent. Not only could we not afford rent out in town, but base housing said we didn’t make enough BAH to live on base. I was so thankful when they changed the rules.
      Now I’m a stay at home mom, but we don’t complain about the difference in pay because we chose for me to stay at home. Stop complaining about the choices you and your wife made.

  5. I hate flagrant manipulation of statistics. This does NOT disproportionately target women. It targets COUPLES. Your use of the 48% and 7% statistics is intellectually lazy at best, and dishonest at worst. Women comprise a much smaller percentage of the force, so the numbers would never be proportionate. This single inclusion made the author and the entire article lose credibility.
    For the record, this post in no way indicates my stance on the issue…just hits a nerve when stupid people use statistics with no critical thought or context to make stupid points.

    1. I totally agree with you. And I wonder if mil2mil should/can sue the congress for discrimating families.

  6. There are better places the military can cut money. When we were in Spain, living on base, only the air force was given extra money for living on base because it was considered “substandard housing”. The housing was perfectly fine for Navy, Marines, and Army, but Air Force needs to be paid extra for living in base housing? There is one place the military can cut funding. Another is in uniform allowances for specific naval communities. Seabees, for example, get uniform allowance for a uniform they never wear. The uniform they do wear is issued to them and replaced for them when it gets worn out or destroyed. So what’s happening to the yearly uniform allowance? It just gets pocketed by the service member. If it’s not needed for uniform upkeep, the military shouldn’t issue it. Or these communities need to be required to use that money to upkeep the uniforms they DO wear. These are just areas of wasteful spending that I’ve seen. I’m sure there are many more areas that can use cutting like these. But no one should have their entitlements cut because of who they married. And YES, BAH is an entitlement!

  7. They don’t need to cut ANYONES military benefits. There is so much waste and abuse…How about cutting the tensions and free health care the Senate and Congress get for much much less than 20 years of service. Additionally, since DOD is the easiest to change we are the best targets – tax the top 1%, quite funding financial aid in the billions to countries that hate us.

    1. cutting the pensions…

  8. But, yet…..

    Boeing – $13,174,075,797
    General Motors: $3,494,237,703
    Royal Dutch Shell: $2,038,202,298
    Dow Chemical: $1,408,228,374
    Goldman Sachs: $661,979,222
    Walt Disney: $381,525,727
    Wal-Mart Stores: $149,942,595
    Abercrombie and Fitch: $23,070,479
    Bed Bath & Beyond: $10,385,041
    And of course, US & International Oil: $37 billion

  9. […] author (unknown) on MilitaryOneClick explains it this […]

  10. Christina Anderson says:

    I am a dual military couple and I don’t think people understand everything that is happening. We are being punished for being married. If we were single we would both receive the BAH w/o rate because of our rank. We could live together and still make the same amount of money then if we have kids I still can get the with rate, so really the big punishment is getting married so how is that fair? Also, everyone is forgetting that if people choose to room with each other their BAH is getting cut too but I am sure everyone thinks that is fair too? Come on people I have been fighting this fight for over 22 years and I am sick of hearing people complain about dual military. You had choice to marry someone in the service and didn’t stop complaining. If worked in the civilian sector I would have a salary that I can guarantee would match what I make now with BAH. Maybe some people manage their money better than others.

  11. I am in a dual military couple as well with two kids and an elderly father who resides with us. I find it sad that our own fellow peers are agreeing with this proposal from the government. It is unfortunate that one person thinks they are being wronged because two uniformed individuals decided to fall in love and get married. We are not a two for one package. We are individuals who chose to marry each other and have a family, therefore the entitlements that you as an “individual” who chose to marry someone of the civilian sector are the same entitlements for each of us as “individuals”. In California where we reside now, the average rent for a 3-4 bedroom home is 1700-1800 a month. I as a the individual with dependent rate only receive $1533 a month. My husband only receives $1250. May seem like a lot. But in the summer alone at the average 105 degree temperatures of the recent we are paying an additional $300+ a month in electrical alone. Not to mention places like CA charge an ungodly amount for water, sewage, and all other utilities. In utilities we are paying close to $800-$1000 a month. Not to mention childcare is over $1200 a month for two children at the CDC because the DOD takes both out military pay into account and puts us in the highest bracket of payments. So take away the housing that we are both entitled to we would then be in an apartment living in unfit conditions for a growing family. A civilian can go and get a high paying job that would equate more than what we would ever imagine earning in the military. So that spouse of that military member would be able to afford adequate housing. Unfortunately not all civilian spouses choose to work, and thank goodness there are moms and dads out there that choose to stay at home and take care of those babies, but that is not the fault or should be the focus of jealousy on those who choose to work as dual military couples. The fact that fellow peers in the military think they are being wronged because of the choices they have made, because they are jealous of the little extra money we are given to survive. My husband and I just departed from Holloman AFB where just last year alone I was away from my family, from my babies, for 8 months out of the year for schooling and Afghanistan deployments. My husband himself has missed an equivalent of 3 years out of my sons 6 year lifespan. So as individual military members this is an earned entitlement. This entitlement is not a two for one deal package. We both make the same sacrifices and have been through much trials and tribulations so it is an entitlement well earned and shouldn’t be taken away.

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