Posted on May 18, 2014
SGT Headquarters Platoon Sergeant
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First let me say I am biased in my opinion since I am a single soldier. The Army stacks the deck against single soldiers, in a variety of ways. There are standards that single soldiers are forced to obey that married soldiers are not. Purely just because of their marriage.

Housing is my personal biggest area of concern being a single soldier. I am a 27 yr old college graduate. I get the same "rights" in my living quarters that a single 17/18 yr old straight out of high-school would get. If that same soldier is married, they get considerably more freedom, pay, and budget control than I do.

I as a single soldier get no say in where I live. At my current duty station the BAH for my rank and dependent status (Single, E-4) would be $1,068. So I essentially pay $1,068 dollars a month to live in the barracks. The barracks I live in have two separate bedrooms, with a common kitchen and bathroom area. Since there are two soldiers in each little barracks apartment, we collectively pay $2,136 a month for this set up. That is FAR more then what a similar apartment style would cost in the surrounding communities. If single soldiers were allowed to have BAH and live where they choose we could potentially save several hundred dollars a month by controlling our living expenses. That's not including the approximately $300 a month we are forced to pay for the DFACs.

There is also the issue of furniture in the barracks. Again we have no say, we get whatever the Army already has in the room. Personally I would love to have an actual nice mattress, instead of these cheap plastic blue ones.

Barracks inspections. I can't stand barracks inspections. The inspections are completely up to the person doing them and what they "think" the standard should be. One inspection your could be fine, the next one your getting lectured about how to make a bed. Last summer I had to write a 2 page paper for an LT about personal standards in the barracks. All because my bed didn't have hospital corners. (That morning when I get up I tossed my blanket off to the right of me, where it was just sorta crunched up against the wall running the length of my bed.) If I want to know what I am allowed to have and not have in my room, I have to read three different policy letters to find out. Division could allow something, Brigade could say no, and then Battalion have nothing about it at all. I get that lower commands are allowed to restrict privileges as they see fit. I'm just saying it's cumbersome to have to read three different levels policy to find out what is what.

It annoys me that I have to have periodic inspections(currently every morning before PT for my company) while married soldiers receive no inspections just because they are married. I get that they have a family, I just don't see why that should stop a squad leader from making a planned, announced, and visual walk-through of the house of the married soldier. Keeping the same standard of living as a single soldier should be part of the military life.

Meal Deductions. I don't think the DFACs are worth the $300 a month I have to pay. I hate having to "play" the "I am a Meal Card Holder" card to get lunch sometimes during work. It's usually followed by a married soldier saying "I'm working thru lunch, you don't see me bitching about wanting to leave for food". True. However when we miss our lunch it's gone. The money we paid is gone rather we ate that meal or not. Married people if they bring their lunch it'll still be there later. If they eat out, then well that's just money they didn't spend that day. They can use it tomorrow to get twice as much for lunch or eat somewhere more expensive depending on their budget.

We get no say in what sounds good for dinner. It's whatever the DFAC has. Sometimes that means either fried or grilled chicken. If they run out of one thing, it'll be whatever they have left. It's not right. It leaves married people with control over their diet and single soldiers with whatever the Army needed to clean out of the fridge.

The above is just Big Army things, the discrimination continues all the way down to the company level. At my company single soldiers who live in the barracks are not allowed to park in the lot in front of the company. Now our barracks is approximately 3/4 mile down the road. Our motor pool is another 3/4 mile the other direction. I find it silly that an entire parking lot is reserved for married people. Sure single soldiers can drive to work, but we have to park in the barracks across the street. Which is not the barracks we live in. Married people can't park in that same lot if the one in front of company is full? To a point I can understand the reasoning behind this, but single soldiers have to leave and run here and there just like our married counter-parts. Why should they get special parking treatment? I don't see anyone stopping married people from using the barracks washers and dryers to avoid buying their own/going to coin laundry mats. Why are married people allowed to dip their hands in our honey and slap ours away from theirs?

Like I said from the start I'm biased. I look over the fence and see greener grass. Perhaps this is all just one single soldier bitching and complaining.

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Update FEB 2019: Since I originally posted this message, I have gotten married. My view on the subject has not changed. I want to respond to some of the overarching themes in everyone responses.

“Quit bitching/whining/complaining.” I feel there is a difference between logically laying out issues and grievances and just bitching about them. The number of leaders who contributions on this post/topic amounted to “quit saying words” is disheartening.

“Get married/Army will issue you a wife.” Saying to get married just to move out of the barracks is a failure of leadership. Those of you (in my opinion) with that mentally should reconsider what you do/did and what your job is/was. As a former Infantry NCO I have dealt with the countless issues that arise when a soldier quickly marries someone for the wrong reason (example: get out of the barracks). The domestic issues, spouse calling in to the Staff Duty, soldier isn’t training because of counseling/FAP/court/Divorce related nonsense, greatly diminishes readiness which the last I checked the Army still considers to be pretty important.

“I had more money/I wish I was back in the barracks/ but but bills! etc.” Bull. I wish I could challenge anyone who says that to actually prove it. As stated, I am married now. I have more money, flexibility, and financial freedom then I did as a single E-4. Now some of that is because I’m a higher rank. Part of it is because I use BAH as intended to cover housing/bills, my BAS for food, and having the control over how much I spend on those two items is very important. Also, my spouse works. I have come to realize that is less than common for married soldiers in the Army. However, I would argue that getting married and not having both spouses working is a decision that you made going in to it. I’m not arguing/stating if it’s the right or wrong choice. It’s what you decided worked for ya’ll. To me it’s the equivalent of a private going out and buying that 23% interest Mustang then complaining about how much money it costs and how he used to have it so much better without that car payment. If you choose (by getting married/having kids) to feed/house/care for additional people (spouse/kids) and yet do nothing to increase your income than yeah…you’ll have less money. That is a very poor argument for what the original post was about.

a. Hopefully ^above^ I’ve made my point clear and concise seems a little muddy to me, I guess we shall see in future comments.

“Move off post.” That’s not an option. Well I guess it is, however single soldiers still have to maintain the barracks room they get assigned, they still wouldn’t get the BAH entitlement, and they would have to still pay the DFAC out of their BAS. Do I need to continue on the ignorance of that statement? Sure, there’s a packet you can submit and ask to receive those allowances, I’ve only ever seen get accepted once and that was when my BDE changed from Light to Armored, only for E-5s, and it was suggested only if they were on orders and would be PCS’ing soon anyhow. They wanted non-PCS’ing E-5s still in the barracks. I don’t recall if I stated it in my original post but that unofficial additional duty of being an NCO at the barracks is crap. “You’re an NCO at the barracks keep everyone in line down there after work and on weekends”, thought that’s what CQ was for. I’ll also comment on the “single people off post would party to much/be late to formation/traffic at the gates/ get in trouble in town more” line of nonsense. It’s ignorant. Along with the “paying dues” comments.

Veterans- I appreciate you are still active in the boarder military community, and recognize that your time in the service paved the way for what we did/do/have accomplished today. However, pointing out how things were worse yesterday compared today and to “suck it up” is lazy. There is no reason we can’t keep pointing out things today to make tomorrow even better. I’m sure there is crap I can’t even fathom that ya’ll dealt with back in the 60s, 80s, and what have you that were fixed because of people continuing to bring the issue up.

Lastly, I’ve enjoyed reading the varied amount of responses everyone has on the topic. If mine come off as aggressive or across the line it was not my intention. When I posted the original stuff above 4+ almost 5 years ago I never expected it to get attention and still receive emails notifications years later. I’m fairly sure I’ve read 90% of the comments because Rally Point sends me an email every time someone comments. No I did not add that picture at the top, it’s the website. Sorry if you clicked on a Rally Point ad somewhere that linked to this post only to see it’s from 2014. I don’t control those. It’s the website. Yes I’m sure there are a few grammar and spelling errors. If you point the out at the beginning of a comment, I’m more likely to see it and correct the issue. Cheers to several more years of being told why I’m wrong.
Edited 8 mo ago
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Soldier- If I could vote you up multiple times I would. As a single CPT I think I had a dissertation I would give to anyone who would listen about this topic. As far as the Army is concerned because you are unmarried you are worthless... I mean worth less than a married soldier. (But you are expected to work more).
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CPT Jim Gallagher
CPT Jim Gallagher
2 mo
SPC Warren Soriano - When I became an officer the same thing, if I had duty on the weekend I stood it just like everybody else.
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SFC Harley Depue
SFC Harley Depue
1 mo
As a Retired SFC Cook! I would like to say Whaa, quit your griping! I done 10 hr. days! and on the week end 16 hr every other week end! We do our job! We be proud to do our job! And we do it to the best of our ability! Are you in the Military for a different form of welfare? Or are you there to defend our great Country? I heard the words of J.F.K. " Ask not, what your Country can do for you! Ask what you can do for your Country!" This Great Country, our people, have become a nation of cry baby's! Get the job done, move on, move up! Or get out, go home, and see how hard it is! I never had to back up to get my pay check, and I don't to get my Retirement check! Work Hard, Work Long, Make it the BEST! O yes I started with a wife and kid! 1973
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PFC Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Operations Specialist
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1 mo
I don't agree necessarily in the units I've been to married soldier have gotten out of task and do it intentionally married and or with children ftx daily tasks and formations. Some been in with years of experience higher ranking. Example: bringing child to formation during formations appointments. Spousal meetings etc.
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LCDR Mike Morrissey
LCDR Mike Morrissey
24 d
For my first 7 yrs as a Naval Officer (shipdriver, not air or sub), I was single. Granted it was yrs ago and somethings have improved. However, there was no allowance for quarters for singles to live off ship...8 man (4 stacked each side) Officer berthing area, no a/c in tropics, cockroaches, sprits showers...yep and school was up hill in both directions against the wind...just to add a bit of humor. In any case, we single ship’s officers were not thrilled. Especially since we always got the duty the day before deployment, duty the first two days upon return to the States after 9 month deployments. Christmas leave after Christmas so marrieds got family time—they had their families at the port, singles nearly always had to fly home.

Then I met and 3 months later married my wife (46 yrs ago) — the clincher? She too was an officer...and I got even with the system in so many ways. We both are retired Navy—wasn’t easy, but we made it. As a CO, I established a lottery to even out the married vs singles. Then swaps were allowed...even that became problematic as sometimes substantial sums exchanged hands...yep, Article 15 could cost even more.

But then again, early in my career junior enlisted had to get permission to marry. Liberty even on a three day liberty was restricted to 300 miles until a Navy Commander from the Pentagon flew to S.F. and back in 3 days.

I hated conducting barracks or shipboard berthing inspections...but it only takes a short time for things to go South. Navy housing Os and Es were well known to become horridly filthy—not many, but enough to cost a lot of money and delay others the accommodations.

In the Navy, our enlisted aren’t buried under the Army command structure described. But then again life at sea is so very much different...no mud, not sleeping on the ground, and not stuck at a firebase. But our liberty ports were usually pretty good.

As I read the original post, I sympathize. The wife not issued with a seabag thing sucks. But the gross disparity between singles and marrieds is unsat...yes, marrieds often perform better in the service—a close support system, except for the high rate of divorce.

However if you make it a career, you may be surprised by the number of folks who will say...if only. VA low int., no down home loan, education benefits, retiree TRICARE, lifetime retirement w/o SSI pmts and a reputation for being a hard worker and decision maker. Very few civilians work for 20 yrs and have all this. In fact, retirement and medical plans can be lost if a co. goes bankrupt or a hostile takeover.
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SSG Battalion Intelligence (S2)
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I remember coming back from the field, 10:30 at night, having formation after 2-3 weeks of downrange... filthy vehicles, filthy tracks, filthy weapons, tired, cleaning up after MILES blanks... and we'd have formation:

"Married soldiers, dismissed! Single soldiers! Clean weapons until further notice!"

And then they honestly can't figure out why some guy goes out and marries "some chick" he met at a bar two weeks ago.
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PO2 Karl Lehn
PO2 Karl Lehn
3 mo
CW3 Armando Martinez - It did in my Navy
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MSgt Paul Connors
MSgt Paul Connors
2 mo
Some years ago I was on a 1 year assignment at Maxwell AFB assigned to the Eaker College of Professional Development working on the Year of the Enlisted Force project. I was (and still am single and never married) a mid-grade NCO. Due to financial problems at that time, my credit scores were not great and I had trouble renting off base (in fact, was denied in each apartment complex I applied to). I was classified a geographical bachelor and allowed to take a room in UPH. Unfortunately at that time, every resident of the dorms (to include mid and sr. grade NCOs as geographical bachelors) had to be parts of work details around the dorms 1 week per month. It did not sit well with my supervisors because I was unavailable 1 week out of 4 or 5 and eventually they complained to the Housing Office to have mid and sr. NCOs excused from the work parties. Obviously, that didn't go over well with the first term airmen who lived there who felt we were skating. I often had young airmen banging on my door at all hours yelling and leaving signs and so on. Those I caught, "well, as a former Infantry NCO from the 82nd ABN - they knew they'd seen NCO time."

One thing I believe DOD does poorly (esp. in the USAF) is force single E5s and above out of the dorms/barracks and into the economy. Some of these folks, especially newly minted E5s (and E4s in USAF starting 2nd enlistments) do not have the financial resources to live off post/base. Some, perhaps many, get roommates. Junior EMs also lose the guidance and discipline that results from NCOs living with or near them.

In most of my TDYs stateside, I stayed in AF or Army Lodging which as many know is more like a hotel room. Older lodging meant you shared the bathroom/head with a neighbor. While TDY I made those accommodations work for me.

I would suggest that those lower ranking EMs who are older such as the poster who started this thread re-consider why they enlisted and try to understand completely that military life does not provide the same amenities, efficiencies, conveniences of civilian life. I was a college grad when I entered the Army as a PVT. I became an NCO quite quickly but still lived in a barracks as an E-5 (until it became overcrowded and the 1st Sgt had me move off post where I roomed with others).

One thing I knew NOT to do was get married as a junior EM; I knew my pay was barely enough for me and that at that stage of my service would NOT be enough for two or more. Too many young airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines and coasties get married for ALL of the WRONG REASONS and two that I can think of include loneliness and desire to get out of the barracks/dorms.

Being a military professional is really a calling and with that calling comes sacrifices. I would suggest that if you are not prepared to make those sacrifices from day one and continue to make them going forward, then you should re-think your presence in uniform.
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SP5 Philip McClure
SP5 Philip McClure
1 mo
And they usually let the married NCO's go home to be with their families.... leaving us single troops to pull CQ and SOG
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SSG Jeffery Payne
SSG Jeffery Payne
1 mo
No unit that I was in ever let married staff go home early. We all had to clean our weapons, vehicles and any other equipment we had, before formation let anyone go. But I was always in combat units, if that makes a difference.
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SFC Douglas Eshenbaugh
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I think you’re looking at some of this in the wrong light. The Army didn't say that they would pay you for housing and food. They said they would provide housing and food for you, same with the married personnel. I've seen families denied to be allowed to live off post because they had room for them in on post housing. And $357.55 just barely covers your food costs as that's just less than $4 a meal for one person.

I'm not saying you don't have valid points but the monetary side is not the direction you want to go into. As CW3 Dean pointed out things have improved but that means you shouldn't stop trying to make things better. The three SOPs, yea bring that up to your BOSS rep that's something they should be able to get fixed. Same with the parking and with the married people using the Single Soldiers laundry room. Miss a lunch, file a miss meal voucher. I make every precaution to make sure my meal card holders get food so I don't have to deal with that paperwork or explain the 1SG why you didn't eat. As for the control of food, I think some of our married brothers would disagree with you on the choices they get when they get home.

Room inspections, I hate to tell you but you're an outlier on the bell curve of the normal denizens of the barracks. Some considerations should be made (I think sometimes my peers are too black and white when dealing with the shades of gray) given your background but they do need to happen. I remember what happen when the BOSS program got the NCOs restricted from doing barracks inspections back in the late 90s. It wasn't pretty.
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PO2 Devrie Paradowski
PO2 Devrie Paradowski
2 mo
SFC Ernest Thurston - There are "personal choices," and general life events. In the course of a twenty year enlistment, most folks will get married or have children. Women soldiers cant wait for retirement to have children. Its a rarity to "choose" not to start a family, and when that happens you may find yourself making very difficult decisions about your career. When I was in the service, I was stationed at a duty station when then spouse left the service. I had to leave the barracks as my spouse had no place to live and couldn't stay on base with me. We spent a month or two technically homeless as there was a housing shortage where we were--that is, until we could find an open apartment, and we spent most of our income on hotels until we found such.

It's not a major advantage. It's a necessity, unless we want 95 percent of all military members to leave after their very first or second enlistment due to financial and housing challenge of having a family while serving.
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MSgt Wes Tracy
MSgt Wes Tracy
1 mo
SFC Douglas Eshenbaugh, it sounds like you're married. You would have some good points... IF:
- Married families had to share a bathroom with other families, sometimes many.
- Married families had no choice on what to eat, but had to eat what was available and at the time it was available; if they didn't eat, tough! They wait until the next prescribed time.
- Married families had their living quarters inspected every day.
- Married families were forced to leave their car outside instead of in the garage (you could often tell a single soldier in Florida by the rust on their car).
SFC Ernest Thurston, yes, the Army has standards. In fact, they have two sets of standards.
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SFC William Linnell
SFC William Linnell
1 mo
SFC Ernest Thurston - And don't forget that while being separated or even divorced and had to pay child support, YOUR BAH went to your ex. And you still had to live off post because certain individuals still saw you as receiving BAH even though it all went to the ex. And god forbid your stationed in a state that still does alimony. I went thru that as a SGT being separated while waiting for the divorce. But my 1SG was good about it.
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SSG Jeffery Payne
SSG Jeffery Payne
1 mo
I'm old school, why did the army stop barracks inspection. My God, if you treat your troops like babies in garrison. How are they going to act when the balloon goes up. Your life and other soliders life will depend on these guys obeying your orders. There are no complaints or do overs in combat. Have these boys grow a pair.
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