Concern over money may not be the only problem affecting the military, but paying enlisted servicemembers fair wages will go a long way toward fixing retention and recruiting woes.
Noncommissioned officers (NCOs) commonly are referred to as the backbone of the military. As the retention of career NCOs in the military declines, the backbone is becoming perilously frail. Retention is tightly linked to pay, which increasingly is causing hardships on the enlisted side of the house. Last year alone, military commissaries took in more than $14 million in food stamps—a testament to the sad state of enlisted pay. Increasingly, more enlisted men and women qualify for government assistance and are moonlighting to help make ends meet. Righting the wrongs of enlisted pay will go a long way toward changing a now-vicious cycle, into what could be a virtuous cycle of recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest.