Join the reserves and make more money

Most military reservists who left their civilian jobs to fight in
Iraq or Afghanistan made more money there than in their regular jobs,
according to a study that contradicts the notion that citizen soldiers
lose money when they go to war.

The study, by RAND’s National
Defense Research Institute, found that 72 percent of the troops
surveyed made more while on war duty in 2002 or 2003 than they did in
their civilian jobs in 2001. More than half made at least $10,000 more.

On average, the reservists made $850 more per month while on duty than in their civilian jobs, the report found.

went on to say, however, that there is still a sizable number _ 28
percent _ of the reservists who lost money, including some who saw
their earnings drop by more than 10 percent.

Higher salaries,
combat pay supplements, family separation allowances and tax-free
earnings all have combined to boost troops’ pay on the front lines. But
RAND senior economist Jacob Alex Klerman said researchers are still
working to understand why this study differs so dramatically from
earlier surveys and anecdotal reports about families struggling to get
by when a primary wage-earner went to war.

Klerman said the study
uses earnings data supplied by the Social Security Administration, and
therefore is likely to be more accurate than earlier surveys, which
often relied on information volunteered by soldiers. Also, he said,
those surveys did not reflect the fact that reservists serving in
combat zones do not pay federal income taxes on their pay.

should not interpret this as saying no one has losses,” said Klerman.
“We need to think carefully about what is the appropriate response for
those people with losses.”

Still, he said, since earnings losses
are less of a problem than earlier surveys suggested, legislative
efforts to supplement reservists’ pay may not be as necessary or
require as much funding as previously thought.

He said the study
does not imply that reserve pay is adequate. Those troops, he
emphasized, are still getting shot at, sleeping in tents and spending
months away from their families.

Noting that some reservists are
in school, and therefore have no jobs or a very low-paying jobs,
Klerman said the study also broke out earnings for those who made at
least $10,000 or more in their civilian jobs. Even in those cases, he
said, reservists made an average of nearly $7,000 more while on duty.

the study looked at 212,500 reservists and compared their civilian pay
in 2001 to the amount they made while on duty in either 2002 or 2003.

get a good idea of the impact on a full year’s pay, it also provided
statistics for the 51,200 reservists who were at their regular jobs for
most if not all of 2001, and then on duty for more than 271 days in
either 2002 or 2003. For those reservists the study found:

The average civilian pay was $39,300, compared with $56,400 while on combat duty.

  • 83 percent made more on duty than at their civilian jobs.
  • 66 percent saw their pay increase more than $10,000 while on duty.
  • 7 percent lost more than $10,000 while on duty.


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© 2006 The Associated Press