Military Benefits

military benefits

Military benefits are available to active duty service members including military nurses.  They include compensation for things like moving to a new duty station, base pay, housing allowances, and savings on groceries.   Each branch of the service has some benefits that the others do not. For example, the army does not have submarine duty pay but does have a version of sea pay.   Some branches will pay more for education benefits.  

Military benefits fall into three broad categories; Active duty, reserve, and veteran’s.  This article focuses on active duty benefits.  There are some significant differences between active duty, reserve and veteran service members. 

Active Duty Military Benefits

Base Pay- Every month you get a paycheck. The amount will vary depending on your pay grade. Monthly base pay ranges from $1491 for an E-1 pay grade to over $20,000 for a O-10. Most military personnel will never make O-10. Military nurses usually start at O-1 and work their way up to O-6.  The average retirement rank for officers is O-4.   

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) – depending on your housing situation the military will pay you for housing.  The amount will vary depending on your pay grade and location. The average amount is $900-$1500 per month. If you live on a military post you won’t get this because the military is paying for your housing already.

Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) – each month the military will give you an allowance for food.  The benefit amount varies based on your pay grade. Enlisted personnel receive approximately $348 per month. Officer BAS is approximately $238 per month.   

Commissary, PX, and Class VI shopping – military bases have their own grocery store, department store and liquor store. By law the commissary (grocery store) has to provide groceries that are an average of 20-30% less than the service member can purchase them for off post.  Liquor stores enjoy the advantage of not having to charge state and local taxes on alcohol which can result in a significant savings on beer, wine and alcohol purchases.  The department stores are also known as the Post Exchange (PX) or Base Exchange (BX).  The value provided by the PX/BX is not always in having the lowest price. PX/BX’s often have superior customer service and better prices on the more expensive brand name items than local department stores. 

GI Bill – there are different versions of the GI Bill. Active duty service members are encouraged to talk to a military education counselor to determine which version of the GI Bill they may qualify for.

Legal Assistance – Active duty service members receive free legal assistance for a variety of issues including wills, powers of attorney, and other civil or criminal issues.

Life Insurance Benefits – all active duty service members receive Service Members Group Life Insurance (SGLI).  Currently this benefit covers the service member for $450,000 and a spouse for $150,000 in life insurance.  The cost to the service member is approx $48 per month. Lower amounts of coverage can be purchased for a lower cost.

Medical benefits – Active duty service members are entitled to free medical, pharmacy, dental and vision care while serving on active duty. 

Retirement Benefits – if you put in 20 qualifying years of active duty service you will earn a retirement benefit.  This entitles you to a monthly retirement check and other military benefits such as commissary shopping privileges and medical benefits.

Relocation assistance – service members are compensated for relocating to a new duty station. 

Special Duty Pay – there are a variety of additional payments the military will pay for if you qualify.   Including (but not limited to) language proficiency, submarine duty, parachute qualification, hazardous duty, and medical specialty pay.

Sick Leave – if you are on active duty and become injured or sick you still receive your base pay and other entitlements while you convalesce. 

Tuition Assistance – the military currently pays qualified personnel up to $3000 per semester for tuition assistance.  The amount of tuition assistance varies depending on the branch of service.

Vacation - all military personnel earn up to 30 days of paid leave (vacation) per year while on active duty.

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