While I commend Congress for the past decade of support for the troops, it irks me to hear that the Pentagon, of all places, is pleading to stop spending so much money on troops ("DOD looks to curb spending on troops," article, May 9).

Last year as an E-5 security forces member I brought in just over $33,000. Checking online for our closest civilian counterparts (police officers) I found starting wages anywhere from $45,000-$55,000 a year. The average government civilian makes $75,000 a year. Why not start there, or are these jobs that have been saved or created by the poor excuse for a stimulus package that doubled the debt that accumulated over 300 years?

Spending so much money on global warming and $300 million to buy one vote to pass heath care would also be a couple of areas [to look at instead of a lower pay increase for] troops.

We have troops sleeping in mountains with their heads in the mud and without showers, Internet, dining facilities, etc., and all the Department of Defense can say is [give them a smaller pay raise?]

I challenge those leaders who want to stop giving us raises to deal with sharing one shower head among 240 people. Or come to the base entry control point and check IDs for 16 hours a day and search vehicles for explosives while wondering if you’ll get to see your family again. Come on a convoy with us and watch the vehicle in front of you blow up, then evacuate the wounded and dead. Bathe with baby wipes for months at a time. Or go home after a yearlong deployment to your daughter who freaks out because she doesn’t know who you are.

This is reality for troops on the ground and our higher leadership can only say [reduce our pay raise] while sitting in their cozy offices receiving VIP treatment everywhere they go. Rubbish!

Staff Sgt. Jonathan BurkhartBagram Air Field, Afghanistan

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