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Army directs financially strapped soldiers to welfare, food stamps as recruitment numbers continue to tumble

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Charday Penn/Getty Images

The Army has directed members who are struggling to make ends meet to supplement their income through government assistance programs.

A financial literacy guide written by Sergeant Major Michael Grinston and posted to the Army website about a month ago reminds soldiers that they may qualify for government-issued assistance such as welfare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — otherwise known as food stamps — just like their struggling civilian counterparts do.

"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," Grinston wrote. "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."

While Grinston's piece includes a variety of suggestions for soldiers and their families in addition to welfare and food stamps, it also admits that rising inflation has affected the "financial health" of many members, and Grinston gives no indication that COLA raises for soldiers are forthcoming.

With low pay and rising prices for food and gas, some soldiers may eventually feel forced to accept food and housing assistance from the same government that determines their monthly income. Mackenzie Eaglen, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, claims that "24% of enlisted personnel are food insecure," per the Pentagon.

"While food stamps are a Band-Aid," she continued, "they’re also an admission that basic pay for enlisted troops and their families is too low — further exacerbated by unyielding inflation, causing paychecks to shrink more."

According to the federal government, a recent Army enlistee with two years of experience or less receives just shy of $22,000 a year in salary. Soldiers do receive pay raises as they are promoted, though as the Daily Wire notes, years of experience alone do not necessarily result in concomitant pay increases.

The dispiriting suggestion that desperate soldiers go on the public dole could not come at a worse time for the Army, which has had tremendous difficulty recruiting new members in recent months. In July, the Army admitted that it had met just 40% of its recruitment goals, despite offering signing bonuses of up to $50,000. Though the Army has lowered its standards for new recruits and attempted to rebrand itself as an institution devoted to diversity and inclusion, these new marketing approaches have still failed to entice new enlistees and officers.

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