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A Soldier’s Response to the 15 hour Minimum Wage remark with the photo of the injured Marine.

I created this, because I was tired of people sharing my response, and having it lost in the re-share process of facebook. This is a very personal blog, so if you’re here for other production reasons, you can skip this one.

The original post on facebook:
The original post on facebook:

Ok, hot button issue here with me. I’ve seen this a lot. Yes, we don’t pay our service men and women enough, but as a former soldier in the army, I can break this down a little better and explain the situation more than just a picture. First off, I’m not a fan of anyone using pictures of wounded soldiers to emphasize an economic issue CONUS. How we deal with combat, and the way a civilian lives, I think are incomparable. BUT ONLY looking at economics, let’s break down the pay of military on deployment vs the $15 minimum wage increase.

E-4 (any branch) base pay is $22k a year for active duty. What is not included in that is the added benefits: 100% health care is covered on active duty, often chow halls are provided for free food, combat zone pay is tax free and also has a COLA allotment, meaning that you get cost of living added on. The following allowances are typical while being deployed: “An E-4 living off post could qualify for $549.60 per month if single or $732.33 per month with at least one dependent for housing and up to $1,100 per month, depending on family size, for food.” COLA (or cost of living adjustments) are given to soldiers in the scale of the cities and areas that have very HIGH cost of living. LA/California being one of them. Currently, the military already takes into account the added costs of living, but minimum wage jobs in CA do not.

Housing in LA, and most surrounding areas in CA can be 1600-1800 a month. Active military housing can and do control the rents for soldiers on post, and generally can be free in the barracks, or discounted areas for families. What I’m getting at is the military has a lot of assistance programs for soldiers, and also increase your base pay and additional allowances based on how many dependents you have. Again, minimum wage jobs don’t.

A 40 hour week at current hourly pay ($10) in CA, would earn you $1600 monthly. Now take out taxes, mandatory health insurance, utilities, phone costs, internet costs, etc… Here’s the cost of living breakdown for CA: https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/los-angeles – The math says that the current minimum wage in CA is unlivable. Economics is a way to look at the BALANCE of income from person to person, and that balance is WAY off in certain areas due to the overwhelming increase of base-cost of living. There are some economic down-sides to raising the minimum wage, I do understand that. However, equating the increase of minimum wage CONUS to the pay of soldiers fighting in combat, is like comparing two completely different subjects. To use the image of a injured fellow brother in arms in this way, and as a decorated honorably discharged non-commissioned officer who served in combat, I find this incredibly insulting.

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Kc Wayland

Creator of "We're Alive: A Story of Survival" and "We're Alive: Lockdown". Writer and director, with a current focus on audio drama production.
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4 comments

  • Julia

    Thank you! I appreciate this very much. I appreciate the fact that you point out that img should not have been used. I also appreciate you comparing the “wages” correctly. My brother is a former marine along with a few friends and family who are or have served. Military pay seems super low until you add in all of the perks soldiers get (rightfully so). Heck I wanted to join but my Asthma was a no no at the time. Basically people can not live in some places on that low of pay. Period. Soldiers are offered basic needs for living for free or severely discounted. They also have several programs to help, while the average person does not. These same people are criticized for being on welfare, but sometimes it is a better situation then working 3 jobs just to make ends meet. So thank you again for pointing out how these 2 things are totally different!! Because the are.

  • Carl

    Your assesment is spot on. I came here to this blog for something entirely different: That is to compliment you on We’re Alive. It is hands down the best entertainment i have experienced. I wanted to say that you, Shane and the rest of the cast and crew produced an excellent piece of art! I Recently heard about
    It from a relative, and have been listening everyday to catch up.
    Great Job All!
    Thank you for bringing back this lost art.

  • jenroy

    I will say I agree 100% with your comment. I’m a former US Army 91B combat medic from San Antonio Texas AIT and Ft Benning for Airborne training and hazard pay of only an extra $100 month to jump out a perfectly good airplane. Comparing min wage workers with military members is a disgrace. I’m a disabled veteran living off 100% disability and it’s hard living in Connecticut where rent for a 3 bedroom apartment is average of $1300 a month. All of this is tough people with families in CA should leave the area and find a place to live that’s cheaper cost of living. That’s my opinion anyway.

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