With inflation sky high in 2022, many soldiers in the U.S. Army are experiencing the same food insecurity that civilians are. On Sept. 29, U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Ted Budd, NC-13, penned a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin proposing that soldiers be given bonuses tied to the rate of inflation. He offered this as an alternative to encouraging the use of food stamps, as some Army leaders have proposed.
Budd cited comments by Sgt. Major Michael Gristion that “suggested service members utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a tool to offset rising prices.”
Guidance from Army leaders stated, “SNAP is a U.S. government program that provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families via an electronic benefits transfer card that can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores. Service members and their families may be eligible. To determine qualification, visit the SNAP website or call the SNAP information line at 800-221-5689.”
“It is highly concerning that the U.S. Army is directing service members to apply for SNAP benefits because of the real-world consequences of the policy failures of the Biden Administration,” Budd said in response.
Budd said he attempted to add an amendment to the House’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have made inflation bonuses match the increase in the Consumer Price Index. While this was blocked by House Democrats, another amendment passed that allows the Defense secretary to decide the amount, with a floor of a 2.4% raise.
“Should this language make it into the version of the NDAA which becomes law, I strongly urge you to use this authority to make Inflation Bonus Payments equal to the most recent CPI level,” Budd said in the letter to Austin. “The brave men and women who put their lives on the line in defense of this nation do not deserve to be forced to apply for SNAP in order to feed their families. To truly improve the financial situation of soldiers, the Biden Administration needs to curtail out-of-control spending and ease supply-side roadblocks. Bringing down soaring prices must be the primary agenda item for this government. Our service members deserve nothing less.”
Secretary Austin proposed the previous week to raise troop compensation to 130% of the poverty level in whatever region the soldier was living.
“The Department of Defense has a sacred obligation to take care of our Service members and families,” said Austin in the memo to military leaders. “Doing so is a national security imperative.”
The NDAA is currently being debated in the House and will then go to the Senate where they will make adjustments. Senate leaders say they will not take a final vote on the NDAA until after the midterm elections.