Military Pay and Benefits: Key Questions and Answers [February 14, 2008]   [open pdf - 127KB]

"In the late 1990s, the military services were facing considerable recruiting and career retention problems. In responding, Congress was mindful of how inadequate pay had contributed to decreased recruit quality in the late 1970s. It authorized larger pay raises, increased special pays and bonuses, provided more recruiting resources, and repealed planned military retired pay reductions for future retirees. The 110th Congress likely will face issues relating to military pay, bonuses and benefits. In the spirit of national unity following the attacks of September 11, 2001, recruitment improved. The programmatic changes noted above also helped recruiting substantially. However, the grueling pace of deployments to and from Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with the dangers of combat, have finally begun to cause long-anticipated recruiting problems for the All-Volunteer Force. In 2005, the Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve all fell short of their recruiting goals. An infusion of additional recruiters and a congressional increase in the maximum enlistment bonus from $20,000 to $40,000, contributed to the active Army meeting its 2006 and 2007 recruiting targets. Career retention of service-members beyond their initial period of obligated service is difficult to measure, due to the suspended separation and retirement of many personnel since September 11, 2001, but so far retention is reported to be more than satisfactory. […] Since the early 1990s, numerous changes in benefits have greatly favored individual members. These include changes in the cash allowance received by personnel not living in military housing, a major overhaul of military health care, and repeal of military retired pay cuts first enacted in 1986. This report will be updated as needed."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33446
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