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View Full Version : Does the military favor singles?


Incubus
11-17-2004, 02:26 PM
I have heard a lot of discussion about the challenges of being in a military family- having to potentially live on-base, move around, low income compared to civilian counterparts, etc.

But what about those soldiers who have no family? Unmarried, nobody else depending on their income type fellas? For someone like this, the military doesn't sound too bad, especially if they are providing room, board, and meals. If you live by yourself, moving around isn't as difficult, and a person can support themselves much more easily than an entire family.

Loach
11-17-2004, 02:42 PM
Its good and its bad.

Back when I was a young enlisted man, the little ammount of money I made was enough for what I needed to do. Married people had to stretch their money more. The big disadvantage to being single was that I was readily available. I remember many nights of being awakened to go out and hangar the helicopters due to high winds. The married people never got called in. If something needed to be done outside of normal work hours, the single guys got picked. When I left active duty there were several initiatives getting set up to make the lives of single soldiers better (more like the Air Force). I'm not sure how well they did.

Tentacle Monster
11-17-2004, 03:02 PM
Single people, until they move offbase, don't get BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) or BAH ( " " Housing). That means we're essentially paying $500+ dollars a month for a box-like dormitory and three hots at the chow hall. When you do move offbase, the renters always know the BAH and usually adjust the rent upwards accordingly.

The onbase housing here (Mountain Home AFB) is pretty good, and they're building more. The senior NCO housing is particularly nice. People living in base housing don't get BAH, but they do get BAS.

I'd say married couples have it about the same or better as singles. There's also another big advantage for married couples: if your tech school is longer than a month or so, you can live off-base with your spouse. No matter if your tech school dorm is nice or squalid; you still have to deal with roommates and super-anal-retentive room inspections.

Sean Factotum
11-17-2004, 04:02 PM
It wasn't until the early '90s that the Navy, at least, started gearing up to support military families. Family Service Centers were established, and a lot of the ships started having family-oriented events, not just the then-standard Christmas parties. These changes came about becaiuse surveys done of Sailors showed that the married members, which by then had grown to a near majority, perceived that they were being slighted.

Most detailers will accommadate the sailors with families if at all possible, so that someone may stay in the same geographical area when transferring from one duty assignment to the next. Not always, and not all, but generally yes when it can be done.

Single Sailors, on the other hand, don't have the same roots as someone with a spouse and two kids in school have, and therefore are easier to transfer from one end of the world to the other. Also, each command has living spaces onboard (actual bunks and lockers on the ships, or at a barracks-type building on base for shore commands,) so there's no reason to go out of the way to provide adequate housing for someone on their own. But you can't put your two kids and spouse in your barracks, so the BHA and BAQ payments where created.

A lot of single Sailors see this, and perceive that they are being slighted. And I really couldn't argue with the young single men and women that worked for me on this one. In the last few years, though, as the money became available, the rules were loosened on who can receive these extra payments. But it still doesn't cover everyone that feels they 'deserve' it.

ExTank
11-18-2004, 02:23 AM
I last wore a uniform on active duty in the early 90's so my opinion may be a bit dated.

But single soldiers at Ft. Hood got screwed royally time and again with the little shit details that always creep up.

Like getting stuck on ammo detail on Thanksgiving day (the reason there's an ammo detail is because all the soldiers from the 999th Toilet Paper & Ammo Co. got two weeks of block leave for Thanksgiving and hauled-ass off base di di mao).

Like being awakened at 3:00 AM by a shit-bird SDNCO who wants you to go sweep the entire vehicle line because he found a gum wrapper in the motor pool.

Like married soldiers getting to go home at night during training exercises (to get a hot meal, shower, sleep in a bed) while single soldiers get left behind on guard duty.

The Army's treatment of single soldiers at Ft. Hood is easily in the top 5 on the List Of Reasons I'm No Longer In The Army.

Loach
11-18-2004, 08:47 AM
The Army's treatment of single soldiers at Ft. Hood is easily in the top 5 on the List Of Reasons I'm No Longer In The Army.

I think we had to pick the same gum wrapper. Fort Hood 91-93. It was in my top 3. Of course now they got me again but this is just temporary.

Gorgon Heap
11-18-2004, 10:35 AM
I went in single and then married, and I pretty much agree with what has already been said. The idiotic details (in New York it was spending a week each fall raking leaves instead of actually doing your job, as well as "guarding" intersections that were already blocked off during public events for 12 hours in the rain) just sucked.

What really got me was the lack of privacy. I don't just mean because of having a roomate and living in a shoebox next to a hundred other shoeboxes, but the complete lack of respect for your space and time. For instance, my NCO would just show up at my room at any given time to chew me out and give me assignments - sometimes to be done right on the spot (one night it was after 1000hrs and I was on beer number 9 when she came calling to get me out and work during a snowstorm).

Later, I injured my back, got married, got a really nice NCO billet and had a kid and I was treated like a civilian who happened to wear a uniform.


Oh, and the money thing for single soldiers is often tougher than it seems because while they generally don't have all the expenses of married/family folks, they also have a hard time realizing they still have reason to be responsible with their cash and end up blowing it all on parties, gadgets, computers, new cars and expensive clothes. Being broke they can't really get out, and so the cycle perpetuates itself.

Gorgon Heap
11-18-2004, 10:37 AM
HURM. And I meant 2200hrs, of course. :p

Loach
11-18-2004, 11:34 AM
What really got me was the lack of privacy. I don't just mean because of having a roomate and living in a shoebox next to a hundred other shoeboxes, but the complete lack of respect for your space and time.
.


That was one of the biggest reasons I left. The married guys were able to have a regular life and the single guys were soldiers 24/7. Of course it wasn't a 9 to 5 job for anyone and we all went to the field together, but they were able to live like humans most of the time.

Incubus
11-18-2004, 12:22 PM
Wow, I never realized how rough single guys had it! :eek: I had always thought it was more difficult being a family person since you have to spend all that time away from them, plus you have to support many other people. I guess it didn't occur to me that the military might capitalize on this vacuum that single soldiers have, and give them something to do :(

I would think the military would like having single people joining the military. If they die, the loss is less tragic because they don't have anyone close to them that will miss them. There's less death benefits to dole out because they aren't supporting a spouse/children. They can live virtually anywhere the military wants them to without disrupting their lives. They can do their job day in and day out with far less diversions and family emergencies. Sounds like the perfect soldier to me. I would think that there would be some sort of benefits for people like this, since they would hypothetically be the most dependable folks, literally soldiers 24/7. :(

Loach
11-18-2004, 01:43 PM
Wow, I never realized how rough single guys had it! :eek: I had always thought it was more difficult being a family person since you have to spend all that time away from them, plus you have to support many other people. I guess it didn't occur to me that the military might capitalize on this vacuum that single soldiers have, and give them something to do :(

I would think the military would like having single people joining the military. If they die, the loss is less tragic because they don't have anyone close to them that will miss them. There's less death benefits to dole out because they aren't supporting a spouse/children. They can live virtually anywhere the military wants them to without disrupting their lives. They can do their job day in and day out with far less diversions and family emergencies. Sounds like the perfect soldier to me. I would think that there would be some sort of benefits for people like this, since they would hypothetically be the most dependable folks, literally soldiers 24/7. :(


Maybe someone with more recent information can come by. I left the active Army in 1993 (being an activated Guardsman is a whole different animal). When I was leaving the Army did see there was a retention problem. Married troops were staying in at a much higher rate. For obvious reasons, single soldiers are cheaper to have a round. At the time I left they were starting something called BOSS, Better Oppurtunity for Single Soldiers. I don't know how effective this was or it later morphed into something else. The basic thrust of the program was to make barracks life more like dorm life. Fewer roommates, less intrusion by the chain of command and more freedom during off-duty hours. I have no idea how well this worked.

OtakuLoki
11-18-2004, 01:43 PM
I would think the military would like having single people joining the military. If they die, the loss is less tragic because they don't have anyone close to them that will miss them. There's less death benefits to dole out because they aren't supporting a spouse/children. They can live virtually anywhere the military wants them to without disrupting their lives. They can do their job day in and day out with far less diversions and family emergencies. Sounds like the perfect soldier to me. I would think that there would be some sort of benefits for people like this, since they would hypothetically be the most dependable folks, literally soldiers 24/7. :(


Unless things have changed drastically, there are no family death benefits in the military. You can choose to sign up for the Servicemans Group Life Insurance, which in 1995 was good for a maximum of $200,000. And that was basically it. There were stories of dependants getting the word of a loved one's death and an eviction notice from base housing on the same frigging day. NMCRS often would step in to help out, but that is a private group and they often had to help out.

I would never recommend anyone joining the Navy, at least, and expecting the keep a family. I remember one time on leave during Desert Storm seeing the families of some of the deployed Army complaining about how the deployment had caused a huge bump in divorce rates. The problem was that the increased divorce rate was still lower than that for the Navy's normal peace time stance. Certainly of my senior NCO's I had two who were married and it looked to be lasting. Most of the rest were multiple divorcees.

My time in the Navy was from 89-94. Most of that time I was assigned to a sea-going command, and that whole time I was single.

Being attached to a sea-going command while married, IMNSHO, sucks. We had a captain who was going for as many stupid silly cruises as he could find for us. One year we spent approximately 3 months in our homeport. Our deployment schedule was written in warm Jello: you couldn't count on anything remaining constant. Then when we went into shipyard for routine maintenance/or decomming, we had duty days where everyone had to be on the ship 24 hours a day (except the cooks, who would go home for real meals, after "cooking" something inedible for the rest of us.). In the engineering dept we spent weeks on three section heel and toe duty: 12 hours on 24 off. Imagine what that does for trying to maintain relations with kids and wife. Being honestly away was easier.

The money mentioned for living off base was nice enough, when it was available - but, honestly, not really worth the hassle for trying to maintain an apartment when one is spending that much time at sea.

ExTank
11-18-2004, 05:51 PM
I would think the military would like having single people joining the military. If they die, the loss is less tragic because they don't have anyone close to them that will miss them. :snip:

I hope you simply didn't think before you posted this.

Offhand, I'd like to think that my Mother, Father, Grandmother, Sister, Brother, and two Nieces would've missed me had I been killed while in service.

This is akin to the thinking that single soldiers can be rousted out, any time of day or night, for the silliest of reasons, simply because their time is less important than a married soldier's time.

1010011010
11-18-2004, 06:56 PM
I think the military discourages marriage between service members. A friend of mine has been trying to get his BAH, BAS straightened out and the rules for determining who and when dual service member marriages are eligible for BAH (and at what rates) are a tad bit arcane.

A lot of "If both members are on sea duty than this... if one is on shore duty then this, unless such and such is not provided, in which case then this... unless the member on sea duty is deployed, in which case that... unless they have X dependents in which case this... unless the dependents are over age Y, in which case that..." and so on, and so forth.

Tribal knowledge says both he and his wife should get single BAH... which is what they were both getting in SC. She got retained as staff in SC, and he got moved up here to VA. They stopped his BAH when he detached SC and he was told they'd restart it when he checked in at Norfolk. Hasn't been the case, so far.

In any event, if you're married to a civilian, you get married BAH, period. The only reason for having the rules is to discourage intermilitary marriages, AFAIK.

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