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A Military Pay Freeze? Our Troops Shouldn't Pay the Price for the Recession

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After 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, our troops are coming home from war to a difficult economy, staggering foreclosure rates and high unemployment. Now, if Washington gets its way, they’ll also face their lowest pay raise in decades. Nice. So as investment bankers get hefty bonuses on Wall Street, a Marine Corps Sergeant in Fallujah would get a minimal pay increase, or in the worst circumstances, a pay freeze.

According to new reports, the President is expected to propose a 1.4% raise for the military in 2011 - the lowest pay raise for service members since 1962, when no raise was given. His proposal comes as the White House is seeking ways to reduce the growing U.S. deficit and pull the economy out of the worst recession we’ve seen in decades.

In the last three years, active duty pay has increased between 3.4 percent and 3.9 percent. As the largest new veterans organization and as a member of The Military Coalition (TMC), we at IAVA know that in the midst of two wars, military pay is not a place to start freezing or cutting to pull us out of the recession.

Every single servicemember deserves a pay increase. That's why IAVA and TMC advocate for across-the-board increases and support the Houses's 1.9 percent pay raise. The objective of Congress should be to close the private sector-military pay gap, not make it larger.  For comparison, the average pay of a Private is just over $19,000 a year, as opposed to $29,000 for workers in the fast food industry.

The debt commission must abandon recommending freezing military pay increases altogether. If it doesn't, it will set an unacceptable precedent for our troops and their families - who have already given so much. If anyone understands the need for shared sacrifice during tough times, it's the military. And they've been sacrificing for 10 years now. Washington, don't make us sacrifice our already paltry pay too.

Crossposted at IAVA.org.

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