Hey, Washington? Pay the Soldiers

Posted: Jul 22, 2011 12:01 AM

Here we are in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and part of our celebration of the heroism of our first responders and military is to threaten the troops (once again) with no pay?  Hollywood couldn’t make up a story like this and; I suspect, old time politicians of both parties would never have dreamed that the government would let the paychecks of our troops become a bargaining chip.

When we last visited this no pay for the troop’s issue, the government came within one hour of not passing the continuing resolution that provided for their pay.  The military had already issued warnings to our military, including those in the field in combat, that one half their current month’s pay would not be there. As a military charity, USA Cares prepared to receive thousands of requests for financial assistance if the problem wasn’t resolved. 

Meanwhile, soldiers in combat had to deal with the distraction of potentially missed house payments, car payments, and grocery bills for their families back home.  That these heroes should have to have such worries is an absolute outrage—and should be an embarrassment to those who reside inside the beltway.

In this month’s version of “Let’s Make a Deal” in Washington, the troops are once again a chip on the bargaining table.  Everyone says that they, of course, want the troops to be paid. 

But, if the players are not willing to reach an agreement, for whatever reason, the result is the same—anxiety at least, and unpaid soldiers at worst.  Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was recently quoted in Army Times saying: “When you’ve got forces in war who need to be focused on that mission—that is a great concern.”

I would like to suggest that Congress shift funding of active military pay to a two-year cycle similar to what it did for the VA healthcare budget.  This would go a long way to avoiding the situation unfolding in front of us, again. 

If there is one segment of the federal workforce that everyone is absolutely sure earns its pay every day, it is our armed forces.  It’s past time to let the troops and their families know that their voluntary service on behalf of our nation is appreciated—I submit paying them on time is the very least we can do.