Grissom hurricane response

Men and women from the 434th Air Refueling Wing offload baggage and cargo upon arrival to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Sept. 12, 2017.

BUNKER HILL – Military and civilian workers at Grissom Air Reserve Base this past week received the largest pay raise in a decade as part of a $738 billion defense spending package signed into law in December.

The raise comes through the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which gives every member of the armed forces a 3.1% pay hike.

At Grissom, which is the largest employer in Miami County, that means the around 1,600 military and civilian workers there will see a wage increase in total of nearly $3 million.

“Like anyone who gets a pay raise, everyone was happy with the news,” said Douglas Hays, 434th Air Refueling Wing chief of public affairs. “Since the majority of our full-time personnel live in the surrounding areas, that money will continue to stay in the area and have a trickle-down effect to the community.”

The raise took effect Jan. 1, pushing the base’s total payroll to around $98.1 million for 2020.

The pay hike marks the largest increase to military wages since 2010, when members of the armed forces received a 3.4% wage increase. Over the next nine years, military personnel saw small raises every year that totaled just over 15%.

The defense bill also authorized $11.8 billion for military construction, including family housing, and $15 billion in additional funding for facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization.

It also gave a 9% funding boost to the Department of Veteran Affairs, which is the largest budgetary increase in the history of the VA. Another $1.4 billion was allocated to help pay for President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On top of the pay raise, the defense bill increased every military member’s basic housing allowance on average by 2.8%, and increased the basic subsistence rates by 0.9%.

DOD officials said in a release that the increases provide “members with a suitable and secure standard of living to sustain a trained, experienced, and ready force now and in the future.”

The defense act also established the U.S. Space Force as a sixth military service within the Air Force, employing about 16,000 active duty and civilian Air Force personnel.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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