(TargetLiberty.org) – Navy sailors who earned an increase in their Basic Allowance for Housing earlier this year are now finding themselves in an even more delicate financial situation. Extreme delays in pay are leaving many service members struggling to cover shelter costs and, in some cases, basic essential goods. Some sailors have even been forced to take out loans and go into debt just to cope.
Where Is the Money?
An article first posted to Military.com details the ongoing salary crisis unfolding within America’s Navy. Affected sailors were promised a boost in Basic Allowance for Housing after marrying or moving to high-cost areas, sometimes in response to deployment.
For many, the promised pay boosts came at a critical time. Rising inflation, supply chain struggles, and skyrocketing housing costs leave many Americans struggling just to survive, and sailors are certainly no exception. But, Navy service members began to face problems when the pay increases never materialized. Some sailors report months-long delays, forcing them to make difficult financial choices just to cover living expenses.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Vice President Gillian Gonzalez says assistance often includes requesting loans. The organization, which provides financial help and scholarships to needy troops, is witnessing an unprecedented uptick in requests from desperate sailors.
Gonzalez cites the case of one sailor who burned through his entire personal savings in a three-month period during which he was forced to quarantine. The Relief Society was able to issue the man an interest-free $2,500 loan, but that won’t replace his savings. He’ll continue to struggle to recover for some time yet.
What Went Wrong?
It’s important to note that these expense-related pay boosts are intended to ensure sailors have what they need to remain housed and raise a family while they serve. They are not an achievement-related award for excelling at work or handling additional responsibilities. Instead, they are a basic benefit all sailors have based on their individual situations.
That’s exactly what makes the months-long delays so frustrating. Why are loyal service members forced to struggle and wait for a basic benefit?
An unidentified source spoke to Military.com under the promise of anonymity to avoid sanctions and painted a revealing picture of administrative troubles. He says the Navy consolidated personnel support in 2017, ultimately merging a handful of processing centers into one. It also transformed the MyNavy Career Center (MNCC) into a full command.
Ultimately, that consolidation resulted in extreme staffing shortages at the MNCC, which hires mostly civilians to provide support. But that’s only part of the problem.
The core issue is the system MNCC utilizes to process requests for an increase in pay after a change in status. While its goal is to complete applications within 30 days, it rarely succeeds. A single error suspends the request, or in some cases, resets the clock. The unnamed whistleblower claims the system “resets the first 30 days over and over until the personnel specialist or admin team gets it right.”
The Navy says it plans to create a new and more streamlined system in 2022, which should reduce hiccups and delays. But don’t our service members deserve a resolution now?
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