So there's a little bit of a silver lining to this long 15-month deployment and it has to do with money. My husband has been quite excited about it and I've been reluctant (okay, stubborn) to actually admit it, but a wartime deployment offers several extra pay entitlements and legislation that military families can use to advance their financial standing significantly over the duration of the deployment. The caveat to this succeeding of course, is that the military family must already be making it by for the benefits to be realized.
First, deployed service members are eligible for Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE)which exempts them from paying income tax earned during deployments. They also receive a little extra in the way of Hostile Fire Pay (HFP)/Imminent Danger Pay (IDP)at $225/mo, Family Separation Allowance (FSA) at $250/mo, and the ability to make voluntary contributions to the Savings Deposit Program (SDP), a guaranteed 10% return savings program.
The fact that the wages for a soldier are not particularly lucrative means that nobody is really profiting much. If there are two household incomes, as in my case, then these measures can make a more noticeable difference. However, these in no way compare to sales commissions and corporate bonuses. I mean, if you work out the math, you get $8.33 a day more with FSA for being involuntarily seperated from your family. What is the price of one day to the average person for a missed birthday, anniversary, school program, or birth? Add to this, a whopping $7.25/day in HFP/IDP to work in a war zone and perhaps lose a limb and well, the sense of financial returns diminishes in size. Thankfully for the 99% of us who never put on a uniform, people who serve in the military, clearly, serve for other reasons (and I have a lot to say about this...).
You know, there is also a peice of legislation signed in 2003 that offers military families the chance to significantly reduce debts. Yet, if explained the “Servicemembers Civil Relief Act” (SCRA) to you right now, you might forget to come back! My fifteen month deployment ticker has barely started to tick and I've got many more silver linings to discover with you.
As with all other things in life, this deployment, this war, is a matter of perspective. I can allow myself to be depressed by the relativity of mathematical military pay calculations and all the depressing news reports or I can look through them (not blindly past them - this is impossible and there is a difference) and try to enjoy the bigger and smaller pictures.
For my family, this extra money will help us reach longer term goals because we are not planning on spending it on consumer goods, a new truck, or our cost of living- we're putting it towards the future and we will be together again. We will.