Re: “Managing Army’s growing pains” (TNT, 12-24).
Your article indicating that 16,000 service personnel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are eligible for food assistance is severely misleading. That is most likely the number of persons whose annual base pay might qualify them for assistance.
The other misleading facet of this is that for reasons known only to some faceless, nameless, apparently brainless federal official, the only income counted toward food stamps is base pay.
A new private makes $1,447.20 monthly. If that private is married, he or she gets an additional $1,641 a month in allowances, giving him/her an annual income of $37,056, of which $17,364 is untaxed; under food stamp rules, this is unaccountable income.
A staff sergeant with 10 years of service makes $3,148 a month, with an additional $2,055 in allowances. That sergeant is making more than $60,000 a year, but only $37,776 is countable
The article makes it sound as if there are thousands of starving service members and their families in Pierce County. Before you weep for them, go out to JBLM and sit in the parking lot of the exchanges or commissaries. Watch an endless stream of high-ticket electronics (the PX at Fort Lewis gets truckloads of high-def big-screen TVs) and heaped shopping carts of groceries being loaded into new, often expensive, cars.
If the rules for food stamps were realistic, and the article hadn’t taken a “sky-is- falling” attitude, it might have been not so incredibly misleading.