I just had the pleasure of reading your
column of 12 Jan, "Our GIs earn enough" and I am a bit confused.
Frankly, I'm wondering where this vaunted overpayment is going, because as
far as I can tell, it disappears every month between DFAS (The Defense
Finance and Accounting Service) and my bank account. Checking my latest
leave and earnings statement (LES), see that I make $1,117.80, before
taxes. After taxes, I take home $ 874.20. When I run that through Windows'
Calculator, I come up with an annual salary of $13,413.60 before taxes,
and $10,490.40 after.
I work in the Air Force Network Control Center (AFNCC),
where I am part of the team responsible for the administration of a
25,000-host computer network. I am involved with infrastructure segments,
specifically with Cisco Systems equipment.
A quick check under jobs for
Network Technicians in the Washington, D.C. area reveals a position in my
career field, requiring three years experience with my job. Amazingly,
this job does NOT pay $13,413.60 a year, nor does it pay less than this.
No, this job is being offered at $70,000 to $80,000 per annum. I'm sure
you can draw the obvious conclusions.
Also, you tout increases to Basic
Allowance for Housing and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (housing and
food allowances, respectively) as being a further boon to an already
overcompensated force. Again, I'm curious as to where this money has gone,
as BAH and BAS were both slashed 15% in the Hill AFB area effective in
Given the tenor of your column, I would assume that you have
NEVER had the pleasure of serving your country in her armed forces. Before
you take it upon yourself to once more castigate congressional and DOD
leadership for attempting to get the families in the military's lowest pay
brackets off AFDC, WIC, and food stamps, I suggest that you join a group
of deploying soldiers headed for Saudi. I leave the choice of service
branch up to you. Whatever choice you make, though, opt for the SIX month
rotation: it will guarantee you the longest possible time away from your
family and friends, thus giving you full "deployment
As your group prepares to board the plane, make sure to
note the spouses and children who are saying good-bye to their loved ones.
Also take care to note that several families are still unsure of how
they'll be able to make ends meet while the primary breadwinner is gone.
Obviously they've been squandering the vast piles of cash the DOD has been
Try to deploy over a major holiday. Christmas and
Thanksgiving are perennial favorites. And when you're actually over there,
sitting in a DFP (Defensive Fire Position, the modern-day foxhole),
shivering against the cold desert night, and the flight sergeant tells you
that there aren't enough people on shift to relieve you for chow, remember
this: trade whatever MRE you manage to get for the tuna noodle casserole
or cheese tortellini, and add Tabasco to everything.
Talk to your loved
ones as often as you are permitted; it won't nearly be long enough or
often enough, but take what you can get and be thankful for. You may have
picked up on the fact that I disagree with most of the points you present
in your op-ed piece. But, tomorrow from Sarajevo, I will defend to the
death your right to say it.
You see, I am an American fighting man, a
guarantor of your First Amendment rights and every other right you
cherish. On a daily basis, my brother and sister soldiers worldwide ensure
that you and people like you can thumb your collective nose at us, all on
a salary that is nothing short of pitiful and under conditions that would
make most people cringe. We hemorrhage our best and brightest into the
private sector because we can't offer the stability and pay of civilian
companies. And you, Ms. Williams, have the gall to say that we make more
than we deserve?
A1C Michael Bragg Hill AFB AFNCC
IF YOU AGREE, PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO AS MANY PEOPLE
AS POSSIBLE AND SHOW OUR SUPPORT OF THE AMERICAN FIGHTING MEN WOMEN. THANK
YOU. THIS LETTER SHOULD BE APPLAUDED BY ANYONE WHO'S EVER SERVED OR HAD A
FAMILY MEMBER SERVE IN THE ARMED FORCES! THIS YOUNG MAN DESERVES A