Money and Soldiering
For the month of January, I cost the American taxpayer over $5500, plus food, a Typhoid vaccination (my arm still hurts), medical care for my wife's sinus infection and assorted incidental expenses. And the only taxes I paid were FICA.
What price can you put on this? On one hand, I'm doing a relatively simple job which millions of folks have done throughout history. I came into it with no experience, no training, and a high school education. I can't say I'm doing poorly financially.
On the other hand, during my career I have been shot at, blown up, mortared, rocketed, worked for 96 hours straight, and not seen my wife for more than two weeks at a time for two years. I go to crappy little countries and let crappy little people try to kill me. You can't hang a price tag on that!
There is no amount of renumeration which would recompense the blood, sweat, and tears of Soldiering. You couldn't pay me to do this. I Soldier because I am a Soldier.
Most Soldiers who get into financial trouble aren't underpaid, they are short common sense. There is no reason for a 18 year old private to marry his high school sweetheart, pop out 3 or 4 kids, spend a hundred bucks a weekend drinking with the boys downtown, and drive a car with $4,000 rims. The pay of a private is more money than most of these kids have ever seen in their lives, and it goes straight to their head. They spend it stupidly. Paying them more would result in their wives wearing more and tackier fake jewelry, bigger rims, absolutely incredible sound systems, and even more debt. Give Private Snuffy $100K a year and he'd be broke in a year, and deep in debt within two. But he'd have a huge flatscreen TV!
I don't Soldier for the money. Money is nice, but if you say, "Soldiers do great things for our country and therefore we should pay them more," then I ask how much more. A 5% payraise is an insult, a 10% is more than the nation would realistically pay. Buy me some nice toys to shoot Mr. Hajj with and we'll call it even. Because in the end, you love this stuff, or you don't. No one ever left the Army for money who wasn't going to leave it anyway. And no one stayed in the Army for money either.
Don't endanger my profession by changing that, because Soldiers motivated by pay raises are dangerous to the Republic.