Dear Mr. or Mrs. President,
The United States was founded on the ideals that every American citizen has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . What protects these rights and ideals for millions of Americans everyday are the people of the armed forces, yet upon returning home these brave heroes struggle to pursue their own happiness everyday due to insufficient pay. Some of our military members receive pay lower than that of a garbage man, a fact that anyone who calls themselves an American should be embarrassed of. To me, this only shows that somehow the American priorities have been corrupted. Only someone of power such as yourself will be able to provide a solution, hopefully very promptly.
In recent discussions of military pay, the controversial issue has been whether our armed forces should receive salaries above that of sports figures and other people of entertainment. On the one hand some argue that the entertainment business is a large market, and to take away money from it that people have made through their own talents and services would be un-American in itself. It is said this would degrade our country's ideal of the “American Dream”. On the other hand, however, others argue that the only thing un-American in this discussion is the fact that the people sacrificing their own lives to protect everything our country stands for are receiving salaries that would be expected for menial tasks. In the words of Captain Peter Brennan, a United States Naval helicopter pilot, one of this view’s main proponents is, “Few reforms have been incorporated to adjust the gap between civilian and military pay, and inequalities within the military pay scale.”(1). According to this view, the government has done little in support of our armed forces salaries and because of this the gap between civilian and military pay continues to grow. The origin of this problem has equal blame to the American public where this topic is scarcely brought up or talked upon. In summary, then, the issue is whether America values entertainment or protection.
My own view is that salaries for the armed forces should exceed salaries for entertainment figures such as sports, movies, and television stars. Though I concede that this is no easy task given it would take tremendous efforts and funds to rearrange the entire economic structure of our society. I still maintain, however, that military pay should at least be equal to average civilian pay, and preferably higher. For example, the greatest salary a basic duty officer will receive in 2016 is $36,403.20 and this only comes with 6 years experience (2). Meanwhile, over 300 players of the National Basketball Association will make $1,000,000 or more in the 2016-2017 season, with the greatest such salary being $30,963,450 (3). Although some may object that this is a very extreme example, I would reply that when talking about the lack of military pay in all cases could be considered extreme. Yes, those statistics show some of the wealthiest athletes in the world compared with our military but really it comes down to who deserves the money. By looking at these statistics, what incentive is there for future Americans to join the military? Many will argue that for soldiers it’s not about the pay but instead about showing pride and honor for their country. I agree with this thought as well, be that as it may, soldiers still expect and deserve to be compensated generously for their services. The underpayment of soldiers, to me, shows to what value our country has for them.
To continue, some may argue that government spending and debt has already been taken to it’s capacity, therefore making an increase in military pay impossible without increasing the already tired budget (1). My view on this is that government spending will not need to increase when looking at the long-term of increasing military pay. Though I do recognize to change government funding much time and money will be needed, payment for these changes will most likely come up front however, and for that I still stand that government funding will not increase it will only need to be redirected. For example, $1.25 trillion was spent on social security, unemployment, and labor in 2015 while only 1.22 billion was spent on veterans and their benefits (4). Although some may oppose that the money spent on social security and other benefits is essential in America for the well-being of citizens, I reply that much less of this $1.25 trillion should be focused on aid for the unemployed. It is an issue in our country that those who are unemployed receive such government funds and again the problem becomes who deserves the aid more. Veterans have earned such benefit through their service to our country and therefore should be seen as a priority when speaking of government funding.
To conclude, I wish to see significant change in America in the forthcoming years and as our country’s future leader I hope you do too. One day I want to see an America I can be completely proud of in all aspects, and one way to begin that is to take value in the people that protect what makes our country so great, freedom.
Sincerely, Brock Henley
(1). @USNINews. "Opinion: Congress Needs to Look Hard at Military Pay - USNI News." USNI News. N.p., 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
(2). "Army Reserve Pay Chart & Salary | GoArmy.com." Goarmy.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
(3). "NBA Player Salaries." ESPN.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
(4). @natpriorities. "Federal Spending: Where Does the Money Go." National Priorities Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.