Thursday, January 12, 2006

Good news for Reserve Component Troops 
The new Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president on 6 January, includes a number of benefits for reserve component soldiers:

*Full housing allowance payments for reserve members called to active duty for more than 30 days, versus the previous 140-day requirement.

*Income replacement benefits to help offset the pay loss some reservists and guardsmen experience when called to active duty, based on specific guidelines to be established within the next six months.

* Accession and affiliation bonuses of up to $20,000 for enlistment in the Selected Reserve,

* An increase for officers for service in the Selected Reserve, from $6,000 to $10,000;

* A bonus of up to $100,000 for members with a designated critical skill or who volunteer to serve in a designated high-priority unit;

* Extension of eligibility for a prior-service enlistment bonus to include Selected Reserve members who previously received one.

The extention of full housing benefits to reserve members after 30 days removes a major sore spot for me. Active Duty members receive 400 dollars a month and more in basic housing allowances (depending on the cost of living in their area). Previously, a reserve component soldier could be mobilized for up to 139 days before receiving the same compensation that an active duty soldier routinely expects.

As an officer currently on the "month-to-month" plan (I have no contractual reserve obligation and can quit on request), I wasn't interested in the $6,000 bonus for an additional six year obligation. It represented a pay increase of less than 10 percent, amortized over six years, and when you take into consideration that another deployment is almost certain, the $6,000 really doesn't make a difference to me.

The $10,000 bonus for six years is a little better, but it still doesn't make me want to run out and sign up for another six years, because it doesn't really compensate me for the civilian career disruption. Nor does it really recognize the value of three command tours, a combat tour, and 14 years of reserve component commissioned experience in two combat arms branches, nor does it compensate me for the disruption to civilian schooling plans caused by 4-5 mobilizations per year to chase hurricanes around. To put it in perspective, soldiers are recieving $10,000 bonuses to go to basic training as buck privates on a six-year reserve hitch. E-5s with five and a half years in are getting $15,000 (soon to increase to $20,000).

I don't stay in for the money. I stay in for the troops, and because every time I try to quit, I get bored. I may stay in beyond my current command hitch - I'm not sure. I may take a year off for civilian schooling and come back to it. But for me, personally, the $10,000 doesn't do it for me.

Now watch - They're going to hand me a $10,000 dollar change-of-command inventory bill this summer with one hand and an extension contract in the other.

Splash, out


On the issue of change-of-command inventory - find your shit and get some signatures on hand receipts if you think there might be a problem.

I happen to think 30 days ain't long enough to warrant a housing allowance. On the other hand, I agree 140 is too long. I'm thinking somewhere in the range of 45-60.
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