Welcome to our new website!
Oct. 24, 2022

DoD updates in midst of really tough economic times for military families

DoD updates in midst of really tough economic times for military families

If you didn't see it, on September 22, the DoD released a document titled: 

DoD Announces Immediate and Long-Term Actions to Help Strengthen the Economic Security and Stability of Service Members and Their Families

They talk about 4 major areas of concern:
BAH/PCSing/TLE (all related to housing and moving for non military member ;)
child care
military spouse career assistance
commissary funding

We get into all of it in more detail, but those are the big topics. If you haven't seen the document, you can read it here

I am curious to hear what you think. My opinion is that its a start, but we are still woefully behind our civilian counterparts. 

I so appreciate you listening to the show!

If you wouldn’t mind leaving a rating and review I would really appreciate it!!

To get in touch with Alison with questions or potential topics or guests please email


Follow us on IG @themilspousepodcast
 And please check out our brand spanking new website! www.themilspousepodcast.com


[00:00:00] What's up and happy Monday. I am coming to you today. Okay. this season of the show, I really wanted to still talk to lots of military spouses and, and careers and things like that. But I also wanted to put a focus on different topics that are important. And I'm not gonna dive into a ton of stuff because there's some really great meal spouse podcast that do go into current events.

[00:00:28] , The Spouse Angle Podcast is one that talks about current events that are, you know immediately important to military families or pertinent to military. , but I wanted to do a show today talking about the memo, I guess it's called. I don't know what what it is, but the the document that was released from the Secretary of Defense or Department of Defense addressing immediate and long term actions to help strengthen.

[00:00:58] The economic security instability of service members and their families. That came out on September 22nd. I wanted to dive into this a little bit in case you hadn't heard about it. And, you know, just to have a little conversation around again, , , I really try hard on this show to keep it real and to not sugarcoat some of the things that suck about military life.

[00:01:19] And we're gonna get into some of that today. So so here we go. We're, we're just gonna dive in. So I'm just gonna kind of overview a little bit the things that they talked about. In this in this document that they sent out or press release, I guess would probably be a good name for it.

[00:01:36] So they were looking at a couple of different areas and four key areas they say. So the first one was secure and affordable basic needs. So that's bah. And so they're doing a big review of the b a h or housing allowance costs for 2023. Those have not come out yet, but what they did do, because.

[00:01:59] They're saying that there are 28 military housing areas that have experienced an average of more than 20% spike in rental housing costs this year above the BAH rates. And so they, those 28 areas. That were, that are like the highest rated, are getting automatic increases that go into effect October, 2022.

[00:02:22] So they should be in effect right now. There's, I'm not gonna list each and every one of 'em for you. I will link to this link to this memo in the Don, whatever you wanna call it. Memo, I don't know, document. There you go. In the show note so that you can read it for yourself. But there's quite a few in.

[00:02:39] In California, which is not surprising. Delaware, Florida, quite a few in Florida, Georgia Chicago, Boston, Cape Cod, a couple in Massachusetts, couple in Maine. Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Newport, South Carolina, Knoxville, Houston, and Quantico, Virginia. So it was interesting because.

[00:02:59] When this initially came out, you know, and some of the, the mill spouse Facebook groups that I'm in, there was a lot of, Well, I'm the first person that I saw that, that posted this. There was like a laundry list of comments under it, which is always entertaining. Usually, I don't know, I can't take too much once people dive off into the, like just picking each other apart for comments.

[00:03:19] Like I, I don't have the mental fortitude for that kind of crap, so I usually stop listening to it . But I think we all. recognize, or in this space that our BAH is not going where it needs to go. But one of the other things that there was, there was a lot of people in Washington state particularly, that were like, How is Washington State not on that list?

[00:03:41] And having just moved from Washington state, I can attest to that the housing prices there have gone through the roof and BAH has not kept up in any way, shape, or form. , I was curious. how other people stacked up in in bh. So, so bahh or housing allowance, Basic allowance for housing is what it stands for is supposed to cover, and this is as of 2020.

[00:04:07] Pre 2020 it was 85% of. Your rent or mortgage plus utilities. And then as of 2020, it's now supposed to cover 95% of mortgage rent, utilities. When I was diving into it, I was trying to figure out, you know, how are they deciding this information? And what it says is that they go off of the local economies.

[00:04:38] rental data. My questions to that, and I didn't get these answers, but these were my questions and you can tell me if what, what you think about. are how are they determining what those are? Because, you know, I Googled, I'm like, okay, what's the average price of what's the average price of housing in in Denver?

[00:04:56] Just cuz that's where we are. And it said the average price, when I Googled that, it said the average housing or the average apartment in Denver is $1,995. Then my question is, are they expecting everybody to be in apartments? Are they, how, how does that work? And then, , digging into it a little bit more.

[00:05:16] Cause I've really honestly never paid super close attention to it. But if you notice, and this isn't, this is something that I think it is. An issue, is that bah. You either, it's either BH single or it's BAH with dependence and bah with dependence can be the service member and a spouse. It could be the service member plus a spouse plus five kids.

[00:05:42] It doesn't matter. You still get the same amount. It doesn't adjust for how many kids you have, which I think is a big deal because if you have one dependen. , your housing needs are a lot different than a family of five or a family of six. Right? So I, I don't, I don't really know how to fix that, but I think that, I think that's a problem.

[00:06:04] I think that there needs to be some, some look in that. Another thing is that I went onto my Instagram and I just asked, , Does your ba So BA is supposed to, again, supposed to cover 95. Of your rent plus utilities, does it do that for you? And I had quite a few answers.

[00:06:23] Most of the people that were, that were, So it was green for, Yes, it covers yellow for almost covers or red for not even close or no, it doesn't cover. For those people that were green, they're living in housing. So when you live in housing, you don't pay. any rent at all. They automatically take your bah, all of it.

[00:06:45] And then you have minimal utilities. And I think that that's kind of the big deal. , when we lived in Washington State, for example, we have multiple, we had five different utilities, right? There's water is one sewer's another gas is another, electric's another, and then you have your trash and all that other stuff as well.

[00:07:06] There were five, and that doesn't include your. Cable and internet and stuff for inside of your house, right? That's all like out outside municipality kind of things. When you take that into account, you're way, way, way over. So so what I found, there were a couple people that were in that yellow, like we were, were almost there.

[00:07:26] But the consensus was that , they're making sacrifices on the quality of the house that they're living in for. And, and that's just one of those things that, you know, you, a choice that you make as a family. What sacrifices do you wanna make? Do you want your, to move your family of four with pets into a townhouse with a tiny backyard or into an apartment?

[00:07:52] Because that, I mean, that will be cheaper for you than living in a house. It's just the quality of life that you're, that you are okay with having, . So for us personally, My house is not where I'm willing to compromise. On our quality of life. I don't, you know, our life is hard enough as it is with moving all over the place and whatnot.

[00:08:10] I'm not putting on extra stressors of living in an apartment with people above and below and noise. I'm not, I'm not doing that. And, , we have pets, so I want a yard that I can easily have them in and, you know, maybe that's privilege in, in where we are in our life, but, , that's not a place that I'm willing to compromise, but I feel like you're kind of put in that position with what they're offering for Bah.

[00:08:32] So, so there's that, There's my two, my 2 cents on that. Anyway, so, We'll, I'm curious to see. It's usually. Around what December? I think that they release the 20, the next year's baah rate. So I'll be curious to see how they have changed. And then a couple other things that they have put in is they say that they're going to fully fund our commissaries to cut prices at the register with a goal.

[00:08:59] Of achieving at least 25% savings on grocery bills compared to the local marketplace. So this is another one of those things that if you've been a mill spouse for a while, , you've noticed that there are, our benefits are slowly dwindling away. , , it used to be the cheapest place to get gas was on military bases.

[00:09:20] Right. That you, it would always be. You know, five to 10 cents below what it is out in town, almost consistently across the board. And that is not the case anymore. We, the gas is so much cheaper. We always get our gas at Costco, but I mean so much cheaper out than it is on base. So there's one where that's gone away.

[00:09:39] And then, , I've noticed personally the prices in the commissary, it's cheaper to shop out in town for most things now. I mean, you might save a little bit here and there, but it's not a significant savings where we have noticed the most significant savings is in meat. But , as you start to pay more attention to that kind of stuff and you want to have higher quality meat for yourself and for your family, commissary is not where you're gonna find it.

[00:10:02] Their organic section is usually woefully. Non-existent . So the quality of food is not, is not awesome. And then there's a, gosh, there's a mill spouse, Ashley Gutu. If you don't follow her, you, you really should. She's super funny. She's a comedian. Hopefully I'll have her on the show at one point.

[00:10:19] But she pokes at commissaries a lot in that they're out of stuff. You know, shelves are just completely empty. And then then a lot of stuff is expired. And it's, it's funny, but it's also true because, you know, whatever we shop at the commissary always, especially if you're buying like dairy and things like that, checked expiration day because inevitably your yogurt's gonna expire two days after you buy it and or already be expired.

[00:10:44] , so it'll be curious to see what that translates into, but they're saying that they're gonna fully fund the commissary, so obviously they have been cutting there and thinking, I don't know. Do they think that we don't notice ? Because I definitely notice. I have definitely noticed. Okay.

[00:10:59] So one of the other items on their list is they want to pay eligible service members a basic needs allowance or bna, starting in January, 2023. So it. Supplemental allowance for service members with dependents who apply and qualify based on their gross household income. And they don't give what the parameters are for that, but I'm assuming that's for like junior enlisted that are really on the low end of the pay scale, which makes it very challenging, especially when you have kids.

[00:11:27] And then the last part is the president's budget includes a 4.6% pay increase for service members starting in January of 2023. And that is a significant jump from what it typically is. I looked, I. Of course Google's my favorite friend. But I, I looked at it and typically it's been in around 2% each year.

[00:11:50] , is the cost of living increase that goes up 2020. It was 3.1%. So 4.6 is significant. However, The current inflation in the US is 8.26%, so 4.6, although that's fantastic, is still woefully behind in what the economy is doing right now. And that was one of the things that, , I was talking to Michael about and , 

[00:12:17] , you know, I'm like, Okay, well how do they figure this stuff out? Where do they, how do they, how do they determine what it is? . They use it's called ECI or the employment cost index and what that is. Is, it's a, a quarterly economic series published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that details the growth of total employee compensation.

[00:12:40] So they just take demographics from the department of, or sorry, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That's where they get, how they determine what those numbers are. But this what was, what was interesting to me because I think that this is something that that is an issue too, and that has been brought up is.

[00:12:57] , the comparison of military pay vice private sector because, , it's been talked about a lot lately, is retention in the military. And they're having a really hard time with people staying in. And it's not surprising because it is an incredibly challenging career. It is challenging for the service member, and it is incredibly challenging for the families as well.

[00:13:22] And, you have to have incentives for people to want to stay. , and honestly, , you can come to a point in your career where it's just not. It, the stress on you and your family at, at, at some point. It just, it's not worth it anymore. And we got to that when we were on surface ships. You know, you, they start throwing bonuses at you and and those are fantastic.

[00:13:48] But when you look at what you're having to give up for that bonus, you're having to sign on for three more years of a, of a sea duty. Not worth. It's not, it's not worth it. It's not worth it. When you think of you're gonna spend. probably half that time out at sea, away from your family. It's just, it's just not worth it.

[00:14:06] So anyways I thought it was an interesting, , there was a chart that I found that is the historic pay raise and it compares the military pay raise vice, the private sector, and the military's behind every time . So like in 2017, the military pay raise percent was 2.1. The private sector was 2.8 2018.

[00:14:26] Military pay was 2.4. private sector was 3.3 in 2019. Military pay was 2.6, private sector three. So it's, it we're just, it's so, they're so behind. It's so frustrating. And then again, you know, this year 4.6 is fantastic, but inflation, we are getting killed right now with the prices of stuff. It is just, oh my gosh.

[00:14:51] I saw a meme somewhere and it was like, you know, . My Costco hall now is like my car payment and my grocery store hall is like my Costco hall. You know what I mean? Okay, so my girls phase through their favorite snacks and their current favorite snack is goldfish.

[00:15:09] And so buying the huge, gigantic container of goldfish. I bought it at Walmart a week ago, and, One week later it was $2 more for the same thing, $2 in a week. And it's like in like toilet paper. Oh my God. The price of toilet paper compared to like a year or two ago, it's like it's doubled. It's bananas.

[00:15:31] I mean the prices are just outta control and like families are. Feeling it for sure. I know we are and I'm sure that other people are as well. Okay, so moving on, , moving on from that. The other thing that they're That they're addressing is trying to ease the process of PCSs or permanent change of station moves.

[00:15:51] One of the things that they're doing is they're going to permanently increase the standard tle maximum coverage from 10 to 14 days for conus or continental United States moves. And then 60 days in tle if service member is in. Specified military housing area with a housing shortage. And that's supposed to take place this year.

[00:16:13] So TLE is temporary lodging. I don't know what the E stands for. But so, you know, you move to a new place. They have lodging on base. It's usually like a little, I would call it like an efficiency. So you have like a bedroom, a separate living area and a small kitchen, which is okay in a pinch, but like, I mean, it's better than a standard hotel room.

[00:16:31] Right. But it's not. It's not super awesome, just for those of you that are are non-military that are listening to the show, I appreciate you very much, but it is not it's not awesome, but it's better than in a hotel. , so they're extending how much they will pay for that, which I think is step in the right direction.

[00:16:50] And then they're increasing the dla, which is the dislocation allowance that you get from so for E one to E six service members. Those they're increasing that DLA for them. DLA or the dislocation allowance is what you get when you move and it's based on your rank. So the higher you are, the higher rank you have, the more money you get for that.

[00:17:10] But they are increasing it, E one to E six, which is great. And then this is another thing and I was trying to dive into, Specifics of this because I, I didn't quite get it, but so it says that DLA payments for all service members will be paid automatically one month prior to their move date to preempt out of pocket expenses also will take effect October 22.

[00:17:29] So my understanding is that you had to apply for it previously as you are submitting your paperwork and then, how quickly you get that. Depends on how well they, and how quickly and efficiently they process your paperwork . So for us, it's typically two weeks prior to our move that we would get that.

[00:17:50] So now it looks like it's gonna be 30 days and automatic. Hopefully that will be a step in the right direction. And then they're going to try to improve military one source for different moving and housing. Then they go into what they can do to what they're gonna do to strengthen and support families.

[00:18:07] And we know that childcare is a huge expense for many, many families. And the CDCs at most military bases have wait lists that are just laughable. I mean, , people get put on the wait list when they find out they're. And then their kid a year old before they finally get a spot at the cdc.

[00:18:28] I mean, it's just, it's absolutely ridiculous. And and it's a real burden for a lot of, for a lot of families, childcare is incredibly expensive and not having the option for on base. Is is, is a big deal for a lot of families. So they are said that they're making significant investments into the child development program, facilities and infrastructure so that they, so essentially building more, making them bigger so that they can have more capacity to provide.

[00:18:54] Childcare and then they're gonna standardize a minimum 50% discount for the first child of a child development program direct care worker. So essentially they're giving half off for for workers that are in, that are working in the CDC to help attract more talented staff. And again, the more people, the more workers they have, the more kids they can take care of.

[00:19:18] So that again, will take, will take effect in October of 2022. They are going to improve access to childcare programs and resource sources, such as military childcare in your neighborhood, and expand the in-home childcare free assistance pilot program to additional states to provide more options for military families.

[00:19:38] And then it says that they have military child development centers have already extended their hours to account for service members very scheduled. And they have also reached out to community based childcare providers to form Or who will agree to care for military families using the DODs fee assistance program.

[00:19:59] And then they have it says the department has also previously expanded parental leave policies to cover non-chargeable leave, following the birther adoption of a child for active duty and eligible reserve component service members. Establish a new parent support program and updated policies to reimburse nursing service members for shipment of breast milk when on mandated temporary duty travel.

[00:20:20] Can you imagine? God, We are. Aye. Yay. Aye. We are so far behind on prioritizing moms and babies in the society. , the next section is for military spouses. So here we go. They want to enhance employee opportunities for military spouses, and the secretary has directed the department to accelerate the development of.

[00:20:46] Seven additional occupational licensure interstate compacts with organizations representing multiple professions, easing the burden for spouses who must transfer for professional licenses and credentials with each move. So if you listen to a couple of weeks ago when I was talking to Michelle, Man, who is a lawyer in San Diego, we talked about this a little bit and how.

[00:21:07] Challenging it can be when you have a professional licensure to move from state to state. She literally had to retake the bar exam in California to be able to practice law there. That's bananas. Absolutely bananas. So they're trying to add more states to to that. Packed so that it makes it easier for spouses to transition, which I think is an awesome thing.

[00:21:26] They're going to increase the use of non-competitive direct hiring authorities for military spouses in the D O D and further expand remote work and telework options to help military spouses build portable careers. They're going to launch a new career accelerator pilot initiative that will match military spouses with paid private sector fellowships in a variety of career paths.

[00:21:48] That will happen in January of 20. and they want to increase the number of partners in the military spouse employment partnership by 10% before January, 2023. I had never heard of that. Military spouse employment partnership. I'll have to be googleing that here shortly. So so that's it. That's, that's what came out.

[00:22:06] . I think the, the good part of it is, , they're recognizing that, , there's a lot of military, there's, I mean, everybody is, is challenged by this. Military families are not immune from the, the economic pressures that there are right now with the prices are just absolutely bananas and housing and, , if you've had to move within the last year or two, the housing has been incredibly challenging.

[00:22:32] I mean, it's, what's crazy is that. , technically you are, You shouldn't secure housing at your new duty station until you have written orders. And a lot of people are not getting hard orders or written orders until they're 30 days out or less, ? And it's like how? There's no way in this economy.

[00:22:58] That you can find a place, secure, a place to live in that short of a timeframe. Like it just, it's not possible , , , it's rough. It's rough out there for sure. And then there's just nothing to rent. There's nothing to rent and, the prices are just bananas and. It is just, it is so challenging right now.

[00:23:17] So I guess the, the bright side is that, you know, they're recognizing it, they're making steps. But you know what? Honestly, we got a long way to go. All right, so that's it for today on our,, hot topic. So let me know what you think. Let me know you know, how this is affecting you and your family, and bah and all that other good stuff.

[00:23:36] And until next time, talk to you soon.