This morning I shared this article from Huffington Post contributor David Wood that I saw on Twitter with this headline:


Being who I am I can’t stand when people read into things to much so I want to assume that using the word “lavish” was just bad phrasing. After reading Mr. Woods bio I learned he has been a military correspondent for 35 years so the common sense in me wants to assume that he doesn’t think we live so lavish.

For all I know the phrasing of that tweet could have been the bad choice of wording by a Huffington Post social media account manager.

That being said I couldn’t help but think that the use of the word lavish opens up a bigger conversation about how some of the civilian world believes military families live.

So because I am more of a conversational toned blogger and not a I wish I could write some fancy big worded article with an amazing point writer, I am going to just do this blog post the Army Wife 101 way and tell civilians who may think we live lavishly 6 reason we don’t.

1. That Extra Combat Pay

When my husband was deployed I had many friends who had heard about “all” that extra money we received when the men and women are gone. The truth is that extra money totals less then $600 extra a month for most and when you factor in the cost of care packages, postage, internet costs (yes they pay for internet in their rooms overseas) and phone cards , you can pretty much kiss that money good bye.

2. Those Lavish Tricare Medical Benefits

Don’t get me wrong when I almost was killed in a horrific car accident in August of 2011 there was nothing more comforting then just whipping out my ID card and handing it to the hospital billing rep and not worrying about my care. There is also nothing more comforting then knowing anytime I wanted to take my kids to the doctor on post I could as long as I could get an appointment. All that aside there is something very discomforting about feeling like no matter what is wrong with you , that you are going to be given a prescription for Ibuprofen.

I have had some really great doctors but several times I couldn’t help ( my soldier too) think that the person practicing on me was actually experimenting on me. I will never forget being sick and having the physician’s assistant being really confused on what to give me for this cold I had. Watching her pull out what I assumed was a book that tells you what medicines are safe to take with other medicines wasn’t exactly comforting. Oh and I can’t forget about the pharmacy full of antidepressants I so easily was prescribed without no real digging into what my issue was. And what about the time I had the bone doctor ( yes he was an orthopedist) do my pap and it seemed like he had no clue what he was doing with that speculum. My point was proven when I received a call that I needed my pap redone because I am assuming he didn’t scrape around enough (sorry for being so graphic). Lastly while I am sure their are specific cases where one can sue , military and their families cannot technically sue military doctors. Doesn’t seem so lavish huh?

3. Food Stamps

Back in September  I wrote a post entitled “Yes Some Military Families Are On Food Stamps” where I shared some shocking stats about military families who received additional aid for food. A Huffington Post article revealed that over $101 million dollars in food stamps have been redeemed at commissaries.

4. Housing Onpost

I won’t lie I have always been fortunate to live in the most beautiful of military housing. Even though that was the case for me I know way to many families who lived in ancient 1940’s run down housing with mold problems, insect problems and more. Yes we are grateful the housing is paid for but we also don’t have a choice most of the time in what we live in.

5. The Pay

I won’t sit here and say the pay is horrific for the military. We do get housing allowance in addition to base pay and other money depending on the situation. What I will say is my husband’s MOS is a 15N which is an Avionics Mechanic. A Sgt with 12+ years in averages $36k a year base pay. A civilian contractor overseas makes $125k a year doing the same thing. An E-1 with no years n service makes under $1600 a month coming in. Of course you will hear the famous cliche line “If the Army (Uncle Sam) wanted you to have a wife (or family) he would have issued you one”.

The truth is in this economy you have 30+ year old adults  joining the military with families already in tow. Gone are the days of just young 18 year old boys joining the military because it was the thing to do. In addition the mere thought that these men and women risk their lives in unimaginable ways is worth more then that extra $575 a month they receive during deployments.

6. The Overall Military Lifestyle

With the military lifestyle comes many positive aspects. We meet friends from all over, we travel to foreign places and so much more.

Yet most people (unless they have served or have a spouse who has) will never know what it is like to deal with long deployments, frequent deployments, missed special moments, fear of the service member not coming back , worrying about your kids frequently changing new schools and constantly have to uproot your life.

Honestly no matter how you phrase it , there is nothing lavish about that!

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Krystel is the mom of two and an Army Wife. In addition to Army Wife 101 she is the Co-Founder of a digital media agency that connects brands with the military market. She has appeared on MSNBC ,FOX LA and formerly was a weekly contributor to HLN's "Raising America". She has written for various outlets including Sheknows and Lifetime and is a big fan of cupcakes and french fries.

31 Comments on Lavish Military Benefits My Arse…6 Reasons Military Families Don’t Live a Lavish Lifestyle!

  1. Well written. I think they watch too much “Army Wives” and think we all live in antebellum historical mansions like Claudia Joy, when most military families are more likely to live in the little apartments like Gloria.and Hector.

    Here’s another real army life medical example for you. My friend was having chronic health problems, and her “doctor” sat there and GOOGLED her symptoms right in front of her! Thank goodness I pretty much never get sick. I just LOVE going in and having them spend more time asking be about whether I feel SAFE at home, than they do on the issue I am there for.

    That said, the military is always the first place the government cuts when the budget woes begin. They do it because they can, and we don’t REALLY have a voice. Soldiers can’t speak out politically or they can get in trouble. We’re always the sacrificial lamb on the altar of political melee.

  2. I am not sure whay lavish life this smart person is speaking of. But we make more money as civilians than when my hubsband was in and I was a stay at home mom. Its
    sad to say this,but the military is underpaid. Even factoring in all those tax free extra pays depending on your job and where you are stationed at.

  3. Also consider the fact that many couples are unable to get a second income (or at least one that actually does anything) because of moving, kids, and other military complications. Some employers are forgiving about last minute calls from CDC, others not so much. And those spouses that want actual careers (I am an attorney) have quite a few hoops to jump through with licensing, establishing a business, and networking in new cities. That second income is sometimes vital to families (with or without kids) and no amount of “lavish benefits” makes up for that.

    Finally, even if these benefits add up to a decent amount of money (depending on rank and family, they could be a big deal) that doesn’t offset the things military families give up, i.e. time together, the ability to call in sick, and even larger things like free speech and other choices. It’s a fair trade, in my opinion, to receive those extra compensations for giving up many of the “lavish luxuries” regular job-holders have!

  4. Very well said! I don’t think a lot of civilians realize how tough it really is, yes, we do have a steady pay(which is threatened all the time). We get SOME extra money for deployment, but most of us would not take it if it meant our husbands wouldn’t deploy with fear of them never coming back.

  5. Well said…I’ve been active duty for 7 years and I’m currently in the process of transition into the reserves. The sad thing is there are some personnel on active duty that feel as though we live this ‘lavish’ lifestyle as well. There really is a horrible misconception out there.

    I agree that it feels as though some of the doctors are just experimenting on us…I have been struggling with something for almost 2 years, and have had so many test done and they look at me like I am dreaming these things up. Like the previous poster, I have seen doctors sit there and start pulling up Google for help…that’s scary. I’m getting a second opinion.

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