By Buddy Blouin
The cost of living is going up, and the reasons stretch far beyond any political party, global pandemic, or unseemly levels of inflation. Economic pressures for military families are mounting, as they are for Americans across the country, which is why there's been a push for a basic needs allowance (BNA) to assist those serving and their families. Beginning in 2023, the BNA looks to be ready to change the lives of troops throughout the U.S. military.

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Proposed Military Basic Needs Allowance in 2023

The idea of a military family basic needs allowance is nothing new. Military hunger and food insecurity are affecting around 160,000 active-duty service members and their families. Now that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is facing increased pressure and worse economic conditions, there's a plan in place to help military families overcome these challenges. As part of a number of economic initiatives, the DoD is working on both long and short-term solutions, which include implementing a basic needs allowance. The food allowance for military families will also come with assistance for housing, a focus on cutting costs for families, and efforts to increase employment opportunities for military spouses.

Do You Qualify for the BNA?

As this is an ongoing measure, there are still many different things for the DoD to figure out before launching the total allowances available. However, there are some things to consider that can help you stay aware of how the DoD plans to provide its basic needs allowance to military families:

Your Income

The BNA will be provided to those who need it, so income is going to be a major factor. Exact income parameters have yet to be announced, but those who are less fortunate are likely to be the first eligible for such benefits.

Your Dependents

Part of the criteria for applying to this supplemental allowance is to have dependents. While this may change, it makes perfect sense that the DoD will prioritize households with children in the initial stages of the BNA rollout. Cadets who are a part of military academies or cadets and midshipmen serving elsewhere in the world are not eligible.

Proposed BNA Benefits

According to 37 USC 402b: Basic needs allowance for members on active service in the Armed Forces, servicemembers can expect the following:
  • "130% of the Federal poverty guidelines of the Department of Health and Human Services for the calendar year during which the allowance is paid based on the location of the member and the number of individuals in the household of the member during the month for which the allowance is paid; minus the gross household income of the member during the preceding calendar year; divided by 12."

Does the Military Pay for Housing?

Yes, active-duty military members can receive assistance with housing, and as part of the same increased focus to help troops, the DoD is also increasing housing assistance. Known as the basic allowance for housing (BAH), the DoD is set to increase the amount of BAH troops receive in 2023, with some receiving assistance as soon as October 2022. Your BAH will depend on many different factors, including whether you plan to reside in on- or off-base housing. While you’ll need to come up with the payments yourself, there are also FHA loans available for active-duty military members looking to purchase their own homes. Each home buyer comes with different financial situations to consider, but an FHA loan can be an advantageous opportunity to enter homeownership for military families.

The Basic Needs Allowance Increases National Security

It’s hard to defend our country’s national security when you’re dealing with food insecurity within your home. Our troops deserve financial security and to know when and from where their next meal is coming. By the DoD providing needed assistance to vulnerable military families, it's fulfilling its role as an organization that supports the members of the American Armed Forces. The basic needs allowance proposals are yet another step forward in helping Americans overcome financial adversities and strengthening our elite fighting forces all at once.

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