The U.S. Army is a career filled with travel, danger and a structured existence. In fact, that might be what attracted you to it. The Army also takes care of its people through good benefits and a competitive salary -- especially if you happen to be an officer. In the lower officer ranks, when you aren't making as much money, the housing, health insurance and other benefits make up much of the difference.
Maintaining your health and the health of your family isn't a cheap proposition if you have to pay out of pocket. That's not a problem thanks to the Army's TRICARE program, which covers your medical and dental care at minimum expense. Life insurance is also important for military officers because your family is taken care of in case something happens to you. Service Member's Group Life Insurance covers you up to $400,000, with each $10,000 increment costing roughly $6.50.
If you live on-base, the Army provides officer housing accommodations free of charge. They also give you stipends to offset the cost of off-base living for food and housing and moving expenses. The Army will not move you to a more expensive location without making adjustments to your pay to reflect that. Cost of living is adjusted based on inflation and geographic location.
In addition to good benefits, officers expect to earn a decent income. Even as a young lieutenant with less than two years of service, you'll pull in around $34,000 a year. As you progress in grade and time in service, you'll see your income increase. For example, majors make anywhere from $52,000 to almost $70,000 a year, based on the amount of time in that grade. The Army also provides hardship, combat and special service bonuses to combat officers and pilots, ranging from a couple hundred extra dollars a month to more than $10,000 a year.
Child Care and Education
Although you'll have to find a school for your kids, the Army provides before and after-school services that progress based on your grade and the grade your kids are in. For example, if you have an infant, you can take advantage of full- or part-time child care while you perform your duties. As your kids move into their teen years, this care includes enrichment though sports, mentoring and even home school support. The Army ensures that you aren't distracted with daily child care concerns, letting you concentrate on your daily tasks. The Army also pays for or provides grants to improve your education, providing additional funds for books and materials. The Army wants you and your fellow officers to be well-educated, and will take steps to ensure that.
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