The US Army's official website released an advisory for military families struggling with finances due to inflation, and one of the pieces of advice given has turned some heads. Tucked in between sections advising service members to apply for no-interest loans and get financial counseling, was a suggestion to apply for food stamps.
"With inflation affecting everything from gas prices to groceries to rent, some Soldiers and their families are finding it harder to get by on the budgets they’ve set and used before," the Financial Readiness Program, written by Sergeant Major Michael A. Grinston began.
"Soldiers and Families who know about and take advantage of these resources put themselves on a path toward a lifetime of solid financial health," the advisory continued, before listing different resources that military families could use to help their financial situations.
Somehow, the $175 billion that the Army received in funding from taxpayers in the 2022 fiscal year does not cover the costs of even feeding soldiers' families, as one of the helpful resources provided in the Financial Readiness Program was a link to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps.
"SNAP is a U.S. government program that provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families via an electronic benefits transfer card that can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores," stated the advisory.
"Service members and their families may be eligible," Sergeant Major Grinston wrote, before inserting the website and phone number to the assistance program.
Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who studies defense budgets and military readiness this week pointed out a major financial problem in the Wall Street Journal. According to her research, nearly a quarter of enlisted men and women can’t afford to put food on their tables.
"What they need is more money," Eaglen. "The Defense Department's flat-footed response to inflation will result in a real—and cumulative—pay cut for service members."
Eaglen said the Pentagon received more federal funding from Congress than it had requested, but claimed the military ignored the growing inflation and short-changed their service-members.
"Congress will have to appropriate even more to save America's troops from the Defense Department's negligence. It's the only way to get troops and their families the financial lifeline they need," she wrote.
The base salary for an Army private is $21,999.60, according to GoArmy.com, well below the national average salary of $53,490 per year based on the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With many Americans struggling to make ends meet with average earnings due to record-high inflation, even that is often not enough.
"This is part of the recruiting and retention issue. Our nation is in trouble," said military assistance non-profit Code of Vets, a charity that donates proceeds towards struggling veterans and their families.
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