Did you know that a significant number of active duty military personnel are on food stamps? Surprisingly, this is an issue that is often swept under the rug and not well-known by the general public. In fact, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that more than 23,000 active duty service members were on food stamps in 2013. That’s a staggering number and raises serious concerns about the well-being of those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country.
The military is one of America’s most respected institutions and it’s hard to imagine the men and women who serve in the armed forces having to rely on government assistance to put food on their tables. Sadly, reality paints a different picture. According to the Department of Defense, military personnel who qualify for food stamps are those whose families fall below the 130% poverty line. The fact that so many families of active duty military personnel are in such dire financial straits is a call to action for all Americans who believe that those who serve our country deserve better.
It’s astounding that so many of our service members are struggling to make ends meet. Between deployments, long working hours, and the strain of being away from their loved ones, it’s a wonder that they are able to perform their duties at all. Yet, despite all these challenges, many are still living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to put food on the table. As a society, we must do more to support our troops and ensure that they are not left behind.
Overview of Military Personnel Receiving Food Stamps
It is a common misconception that those in the military make a comfortable living and do not require assistance from programs such as food stamps. However, the reality is that many active duty military personnel struggle to make ends meet, and food insecurity remains a significant issue within the military community.
In 2020, the Department of Defense reported that approximately 22,000 active duty service members received food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This number may seem small when compared to the total number of military personnel, but it is important to note that it only accounts for those who applied and were eligible for assistance. Many others may be facing food insecurity but have not applied or are not eligible for SNAP due to various factors.
- Factors that may contribute to food insecurity among military personnel include:
- Low pay for junior enlisted members
- High cost of living in certain areas with a military presence
- Spouse unemployment or underemployment due to frequent relocations and limited job opportunities near military installations
- Challenges accessing affordable and nutritious food options while deployed or living in temporary housing
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue of food insecurity among military families. With a struggling economy and many military spouses losing jobs or experiencing reduced hours, the demand for food assistance has increased.
Efforts to address food insecurity among military personnel have included programs such as the Military Family Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (MFSP), which provides food assistance to military families who are ineligible for SNAP. Additionally, various nonprofit organizations have implemented initiatives to combat food insecurity within the military community.
|Number of Active Duty Service Members Receiving SNAP
While the number of active duty service members receiving food stamps has decreased slightly in recent years, the issue of food insecurity remains prevalent within the military community. It is crucial to continue addressing this issue and providing support to those who serve our country.
Reasons for military members to require food stamps
Despite the often-held belief that joining the military means financial stability, many service members struggle to make ends meet. The following are some of the reasons why military members may require assistance from programs like food stamps:
- Low pay: Although military members receive a regular paycheck, the amount is often lower than what they could earn in the private sector with similar qualifications and experience. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, more than half of the enlisted service members and their families rely on some form of public assistance.
- High cost of living: Military members are often stationed in expensive areas, particularly if they are based in or around major metropolitan areas. The high cost of housing, childcare, and other basic necessities can make it difficult for military families to make ends meet.
- Deployment: During deployment, service members often lose access to additional pay and allowances they receive when stationed stateside. This can have a significant impact on their families’ budgets, especially if they are single-income households.
Salary and Benefits Provided to Active Duty Military Personnel
The salaries and benefits provided to active duty military personnel in the United States are governed by laws and regulations that have evolved over many years. The basic salary for enlisted personnel and officers is determined by their rank and length of service, with regular pay increases for each promotion. In addition to base pay, active duty military personnel receive other benefits, including housing allowances, subsistence allowances, and special pay for certain job-specific functions.
- Housing Allowance: Active duty military personnel receive a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to cover the cost of housing for themselves and their families. The amount of the allowance is based on the location and the pay grade of the service member.
- Subsistence Allowance: Active duty military personnel receive a Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) to cover their food expenses. The amount of the allowance is based on the individual’s rank and whether they are an officer or enlisted personnel.
- Special Pay: Active duty military personnel may receive additional pay for skills, duties, or assignments that are deemed to be critical and/or involve special skills or qualifications.
The military also offers a number of other benefits to active duty personnel, including medical and dental care, education and training opportunities, and retirement benefits. These benefits are designed to support military personnel and their families throughout their lives, both during their time of service and after they leave the military.
It’s worth noting that while many active duty military personnel receive a range of benefits, not all members of the military earn enough to support themselves and their families without assistance. In fact, recent reports have suggested that there are thousands of active duty military personnel who are receiving food stamps to help make ends meet.
|Number of Active Duty Personnel on Food Stamps
|2017 (through June)
While it’s difficult to say why exactly the number of active duty military personnel on food stamps has increased in recent years, it does point to the fact that even with salaries and benefits, many military families are struggling to make ends meet. As a nation, it’s important that we continue to support our military personnel both during and after their time of service and ensure that they have the resources and support they need to lead healthy and stable lives.
Comparison of military wages to civilian incomes
One of the reasons why many active duty military personnel are on food stamps is because of the pay gap between military wages and civilian incomes. While many people believe that serving in the military is a well-paying job, the reality is quite different. According to a report released by the Government Accountability Office in 2015, about 23% of enlisted military personnel were on food stamps or other food assistance programs in 2013. The report also found that about 15% of military families were living below the poverty line.
- The average starting salary for an enlisted service member with no prior experience is around $19,000 per year.
- In comparison, the federal poverty level for a family of four in the United States is $25,750 per year.
- Many military families are forced to rely on food stamps and other assistance programs just to make ends meet.
While military personnel do receive additional benefits such as housing and healthcare, these benefits can also be a burden for some families. For example, many military families are required to live on base housing, which can be substandard and in need of repairs. Additionally, military healthcare can be difficult to access and may not cover all necessary medical expenses.
Another factor that contributes to the pay gap between military wages and civilian incomes is the lack of job security in the military. While civilian employees have job protections and can sue for wrongful termination, military personnel do not have the same rights. This can make it difficult for service members to advocate for themselves and to hold their employers accountable when they are mistreated.
|Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
|Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS)
|Total Annual Pay
The table above shows the base pay and additional allowances for three different ranks of enlisted personnel. Even with the additional allowances for housing and subsistence, the total annual pay is still well below the poverty line for a family of four. This is one of the reasons why so many military families are forced to rely on assistance programs just to make ends meet.
Impact of deployment and frequent moves on military finances
Deployment and frequent moves are not only emotionally stressful for the military personnel but it also has a significant impact on their finances. These moves can cause heavy financial strains due to the costs associated with relocation and adjustments to the new location. The problem is particularly challenging for junior enlisted personnel who may have limited financial resources.
- Costs associated with relocation: Military personnel have to continually move, and each move comes with its own cost. Relocation expenses can add up quickly and include costs such as deposits for utilities, packing and shipping possessions, temporary lodging, and other expenses associated with moving. While military personnel can receive financial assistance for some relocation expenses, it may not always be enough to cover the actual costs.
- Loss of Spouses’ Earnings: Military spouses often have to give up their jobs due to frequent moves, and it creates a severe setback for military families financially. It has been estimated that military spouses face an unemployment rate of around 25%, which is far higher than the national average. The loss of one income can put severe financial stress on the family, especially for those who have young children and need childcare.
- Living Expenses: Military families often choose to live off-base and are expected to pay for rent, utilities, and other expenses out of their own pockets. These costs can vary greatly depending on the location of the base. In some areas, the cost of living can be significantly higher than in others, which means that those stationed in these areas may struggle to make ends meet.
Furthermore, military deployment can increase the financial load on families. During deployment periods, spouses may face additional difficulties dealing with finances and other issues that arise when the primary breadwinner is away.
Table: Monthly Basic Pay By Years of Service
|Years of Service
|Less than 2 years
|16 years or more
As illustrated in the above table, the compensation varies dramatically depending on years of service. Junior enlisted personnel are among the lowest-paid, and their money can run out long before their next paycheck arrives. Unfortunately, despite their efforts to budget money wisely and cut expenses, some military personnel are still struggling to make ends meet. While military pay may cover some essentials, additional financial support may be necessary to make the family more comfortable.
Types of Government Assistance Programs Available to Military Families
The brave men and women who serve in our military make untold sacrifices to protect our freedoms. Unfortunately, those sacrifices often come with financial and logistical challenges that can make providing for themselves and their families a struggle. That’s why there are several government assistance programs available to help military families in need. Here are some of the most commonly used programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Otherwise known as food stamps, SNAP provides financial assistance to help low-income individuals and families purchase groceries. Military families may qualify for SNAP benefits if their income falls below a certain threshold.
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – WIC provides nutrition assistance to pregnant women, new mothers, and young children. Military families who meet the eligibility requirements can receive vouchers for healthy foods like milk, cheese, eggs, and whole grains.
- Childcare Assistance Program (CAP) – Military families who need help paying for childcare while they work may be eligible for CAP. This program provides financial assistance to help families afford quality care for their children.
In addition to these programs, there are also resources available for military families who need help navigating the various federal and state assistance programs. Military OneSource is a free service that provides a wide range of resources and support to military families, including help with finances, relocation, and legal issues.
It’s worth noting that while these programs can be a lifesaver for families in need, there are still some military families who slip through the cracks. In fact, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an estimated 23,000 active duty service members were on food stamps in 2013. That’s a small percentage of the overall military population, but it’s still a concerning number considering the sacrifices these men and women make for our country.
Table: Military and SNAP Participation Statistics
|Military households on SNAP
|SNAP participation rate among military households
Despite the relatively low numbers, the fact that some military families are struggling to put food on the table is a reminder that we have a responsibility to take care of those who take care of us. By supporting government assistance programs and other resources for military families, we can help ensure that every service member and their loved ones can live with dignity and security.
Statistics on the number of veterans receiving government benefits
As of 2021, there were approximately 18.2 million veterans in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those veterans, around 4 million were receiving disability compensation and almost 5 million were receiving some form of education and training benefits.
- Over 1.3 million veterans were living in poverty in 2019.
- Approximately 11% of veterans received SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits in 2020.
- An estimated 40,000 veterans were homeless on a single night in January 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Furthermore, veterans who were wounded or disabled in service may also receive benefits such as healthcare, home loans, and pensions. These benefits are designed to support veterans who may be struggling due to injuries, disabilities, unemployment, or homelessness.
Veterans Receiving Disability Benefits
As mentioned earlier, around 4 million veterans were receiving disability compensation benefits as of 2021. Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to veterans who have suffered an injury or illness as a result of their military service.
The amount of compensation received varies based on the severity of the disability. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the average disability compensation payment to veterans with a disability rating of 30% to 60% was $430.69 per month as of December 2020.
The disability compensation program is meant to provide financial support to veterans who are unable to work due to their disabilities. In some cases, veterans may also qualify for vocational rehabilitation and employment services to help them find employment despite their disabilities.
Homelessness is a major issue among veterans. As of January 2020, an estimated 40,000 veterans were homeless on a single night. However, this number has decreased over the years due to increased efforts by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations to combat veteran homelessness.
|Number of Homeless Veterans
These efforts include providing veterans with housing assistance, healthcare, education, and job training. The goal is to help veterans reintegrate into society and lead productive, fulfilling lives after their military service.
Criticisms of the government’s assistance to military families
While the government provides assistance to military families through programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), and free or reduced school lunches, there are criticisms surrounding the level of support given to these families.
- Some argue that the pay for active duty military members is too low, considering the daily risks and sacrifices they make for their country. This low pay can contribute to some military families needing government assistance to make ends meet.
- Additionally, some believe that the government could do more to support military spouses and children, especially when a service member is deployed overseas or relocating frequently. Programs such as childcare assistance, job training, and mental healthcare for spouses and children could address these needs.
- Others criticize the bureaucracy and red tape surrounding government assistance for military families, arguing that the process for accessing benefits can be confusing, slow, and burdensome for already-stressed families.
Regardless of these criticisms, it is clear that military families often require financial assistance to manage the unique challenges that come with serving in the armed forces. Addressing these criticisms and improving the level of support given to military families should be a priority for the government.
Initiatives and organizations providing assistance to military families
It is a sad reality that many active duty military members struggle to make ends meet and rely on government assistance programs such as food stamps. However, there are numerous initiatives and organizations that work tirelessly to provide assistance and support to military families in need.
- The Armed Services YMCA provides numerous programs and services to support military families, including food assistance, counseling, and emergency financial assistance.
- The Fisher House Foundation offers free or low-cost lodging to military families who need to be near a medical center for treatment.
- The Gary Sinise Foundation provides a variety of support to military families, including financial assistance for housing, transportation, and home modifications.
In addition to these organizations, there are numerous government initiatives in place to support military families. The Military Family Assistance Program provides emergency financial assistance to military families, while the Family Readiness System provides support through a variety of programs and services.
However, despite these efforts, the fact remains that many military families still struggle to make ends meet. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, approximately 23,000 active duty military members relied on food stamps in 2013. This is a staggering number and serves as a reminder of the importance of continued support for military families.
|Armed Services YMCA
|Food assistance, counseling, emergency financial assistance
|Fisher House Foundation
|Free or low-cost lodging for families near medical centers
|Gary Sinise Foundation
|Financial assistance for housing, transportation, home modifications
|Military Family Assistance Program
|Emergency financial assistance for military families
|Family Readiness System
|Support through a variety of programs and services
It is crucial that we continue to support and advocate for our military families, who sacrifice so much to serve our country. By supporting these organizations and initiatives, we can help ensure that no military family goes hungry or struggles to make ends meet.
Proposed policy changes to address military poverty and hunger.
The fact that a significant number of active-duty military members are on food stamps has brought about proposals to address the issue of military poverty and hunger. Here are some of the proposed policy changes:
- Increase the basic needs allowance for military families: The basic allowance for housing (BAH) should be increased to better reflect the cost of living in certain areas, such as those close to military bases. This would enable service members to more easily meet their basic needs, including food.
- Revamp the military pay system: The current military pay system is outdated and does not account for the rising costs of living. In order to address military poverty, a revamped pay system should be implemented that takes into account factors such as duty station, dependents, and experience level.
- Expand access to military food banks: Military food banks are a vital resource for service members who are struggling to make ends meet. However, not all military communities have access to these food banks. Expanding access to food banks would help ensure that military families have access to the food they need.
In addition to these proposals, there are also organizations that are working to address military poverty and hunger on a more grassroots level. For example, the Military Family Advisory Network has launched a National Military Family Basic Needs Survey to better understand the needs of military families and develop comprehensive solutions to address those needs.
Overall, the issue of military poverty and hunger is a complex one that requires a multifaceted approach. By implementing policies that better reflect the needs of military families, as well as expanding access to resources such as food banks, we can help ensure that those who serve our country are able to meet their basic needs.
|Number of active duty military on food stamps
|Percentage of active duty military on food stamps
Source: Defense Department data obtained by POLITICO.
FAQs About How Many Active Duty Military Are on Food Stamps
1. How many active duty military are currently receiving food stamps?
As of 2021, approximately 14,000 active duty military members are receiving food stamps.
2. Are active duty military members eligible for food stamps?
Yes, active duty military members are eligible for food stamps if they meet the income and other requirements set by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
3. Why are some active duty military members receiving food stamps?
The reasons for active duty military members receiving food stamps vary, but they may include low pay, high housing costs, and unexpected expenses.
4. Does receiving food stamps affect a military member’s security clearance?
No, receiving food stamps does not affect an active duty military member’s security clearance.
5. Are there any efforts to reduce the number of active duty military members receiving food stamps?
Yes, there are ongoing efforts to address the issue of food insecurity among military members, including increasing pay and providing financial education.
6. Are military members the only federal employees receiving food stamps?
No, military members are not the only federal employees receiving food stamps. Other federal employees, such as low-wage government contractors, may also be eligible for SNAP.
7. How can I support active duty military members who are receiving food stamps?
There are several ways to support military members who are struggling with food insecurity, including donating to organizations that provide food assistance and raising awareness of the issue.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about how many active duty military members are on food stamps. It is important to remember that these individuals are serving our country and facing financial challenges despite their dedication. By supporting efforts to address food insecurity among the military and advocating for better pay and benefits, we can help ensure that those who serve our country have a better quality of life. Don’t forget to visit again later for more informative articles.