Stability within a military family directly correlates to the service member’s state of mind. As the military continues to concentrate on readiness, support for families is a top priority. The 2023 Defense Department budget gives us a look at the key issues being addressed by the government. Let’s look at a few of the goals the military is hoping to accomplish during this fiscal year.
- Base pay increase. The 4.6% base pay increase is effective this month (January). While it’s always nice to see numbers go up on a pay stub, it’s also important to emphasize the national inflation rate as of October 2022 is almost 8%, which still leaves a large burden on families.
- Temporary Basic Allowance for Housing increase. BAH went up in 28 military housing areas in communities where rental prices spiked by 20% or more. Outside of these 28 areas, there is still a huge discrepancy in BAH and local rental rates. The temporary increase in BAH in these areas was in place from Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2022 — BAH rates should remain the same in 2023.
- Savings at the commissary. The new goal is for customers to save 25% on their grocery bill when compared to shopping at civilian grocery stores. Most commissaries were already funded to give shoppers an average savings of 22% on their bill, so the new budget aims to fund another 3 to 5% to help military families save. It is important to note that while we are not taxed on the food at commissaries there is a 5% surcharge attached for the maintenance of the commissary itself.
- The Military Spouse Career Accelerated Program. This program will be centered around military spouses receiving 12-week paid internships with corporations that will keep them on past their next PCS season. Spousal unemployment has been a problem for decades, with military spouses’ unemployment rate clocking in at around 21% compared to 3.7% within the civilian population. It isn’t a surprise given how often we PCS that limited state-to-state flexibility in professional licenses and the shortage of affordable child care exacerbate this problem.
- Accessible, affordable health care. When military families have trouble securing child care, it directly impacts readiness. Long waitlists and a shortage of child care workers make this a very real challenge for many — this budget aims to adjust DOD civilian pay to $15/hour to help retain workers. They are also including fee assistance, putting money towards new construction and sustainment.
These goals are by no means the only ones addressed in the 2023 Defense Department budget. I would encourage you to do your own research to learn all you can about topics that are important to you. Seeing key challenges being addressed just goes to show we can be heard and things can change. We are the military family. We create the stability this lifestyle takes from us. Our experience and expertise are desperately needed to mold our future.