Guard’s housing pay on rise
A proposal to increase the housing allowance given to full-time personnel at Fort Wayne’s Air National Guard base was not included in the defense policy bill approved recently by both houses of Congress.
But Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said the Department of Defense has assured him the allowance will be raised again in 2019 after a partial increase took effect this year.
About 200 airmen at the 122nd Fighter Wing should end up receiving roughly $270 more a month on average for housing expenses than they had been getting before discovering their allowance was based on outdated housing market data in Fort Wayne, Donnelly said in an interview over the weekend.
And if they don’t receive the full bump next year, Donnelly said he will revive his legislation “in a heartbeat.”
The allowance, which goes to uniformed service members whose bases do not provide living quarters, is based on local rents, utilities and renter’s insurance. Allowance rates this year for Fort Wayne ranged from 1,392 : depending on pay grade and whether an airman has dependents : and were less than the rates for Indianapolis, Toledo, Dayton and the Michigan markets of Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
Donnelly and Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, wrote a letter in January to the Defense Travel Management Office in which they said the Fort Wayne allowance had been calculated using “inaccurate or incomplete” local housing market data, much of it dating back to 2003.
Airmen did receive an average monthly increase of about 130 a month.
His proposal was contained in the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate. But it was removed by Senate and House negotiators who produced the final version of the $717 billion bill that was approved by both chambers.
“We pushed really, really hard to have it remain. At the last moment it came out,” said Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“What we’ve been assured is at the beginning of ’19, the remaining portion will go in, and so they’ll have the full $270,” Donnelly said about communications with the Defense Department.
Banks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement: “For years our warfighters have shouldered the weight of this housing allowance discrepancy. The DOD must fix the formula and deliver the deserved increase to our warfighters, and I will continue to put pressure on the Department until it is rectified.”