In response to “Don’t force me to live on post” (letter, July 9): I agree with the author in that I’d prefer not to live on post; most anyone would prefer the degree of privacy, higher standard of upkeep, and flexibility that private sector off-post living affords. That, unfortunately, is where our agreement ends.

The U.S. military is the only institution in America where your benefits and paycheck are determined not only by your skill, experience and loyalty to the organization, but also your marital status. An E-3 or E-4 who gets married in Advanced Individual Training can reasonably expect to live off-post at his or her first duty station, with minimal time in service or organization. This substantial increase in standard of living is not because of his or her skill or experience, but because he or she is married. It leads one to question a junior soldier’s motives when he or she ties the knot.

As a single E-5 with more than seven years in the Army and more than four years’ experience living overseas, I have never lived off post. The barracks I can expect to return to were built in 1954, and the rooms are smaller than the Containerized Housing Unit in which I currently live. I am issued a meal card, expected to eat all meals (consisting of food of questionable quality) at predetermined hours.

For single soldiers, living off post is a jealously guarded privilege, and is only really “guaranteed” when you make E-7, after a minimum of six years of service. Until that time, the only recourse I have to improve my standard of living is to get married. I choose not to do this, because I respect myself and the institution of marriage, but I also do not accept the status quo; it is a large part of the reason that I have chosen to separate from the service.

Sgt. Kyle Johnson

Joint Security Station Justice, Iraq

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now