Veterans and their families can be charged thousands of dollars for military housing and equipment.
But they can also receive more than that when they choose to live there, the military’s chief financial officer said.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has paid $2.5 billion to cover housing costs for members of the National Guard and Reserves.
The housing payments have come as the military grapples with an aging population and its growing need for care, according to the DoD’s fiscal year 2016 report.
Military housing is not exempt from paying for expenses for military families.
That means if a member or spouse spends $5,000 or more on military housing, the payment for that amount is included in their total DoD housing benefit, according the report.
“We don’t do that,” said Mike Zullo, the head of DoD Housing and Construction.
The DoD can only use the portion of the military housing payment that is covered by the individual’s pay grade, which is usually the lowest pay grade for active duty soldiers.
It also must provide the payment to military spouses who have children younger than age 19.
Zullo said that the DoE’s budgeted housing benefits amount to about $3,000 for a family of four, or about $1,800 for a single adult.
“The DoE has a responsibility to make sure we have adequate funding to meet our housing needs,” Zullos said.
“Our goal is to get as many members and their spouses to have adequate housing,” he added.
Military housing payments to families can increase significantly as their incomes rise, according a 2011 study by the nonprofit Government Accountability Office.
A family of five can expect to receive $8,400 in housing benefits for the year, or $1.5 million in a single year.
For military members, a $5K monthly military housing benefit for active-duty service members and $2,000 monthly housing benefit to military wives and their dependent children are included in the total DoE housing benefit.
The DoL also has some ways of reducing the amount it is able to pay to military families, according in its FY 2016 report to Congress.
The DoL pays the DoDE to cover the cost of housing for military members and families.
The Pentagon says it pays the cost to the government for the housing benefit and the cost for each member’s paygrade, including the DoL’s share.
In fiscal year 2017, the DoDo paid $1 million to cover expenses for housing for active service members, according DoD spokesperson Mark Salisbury.
In the year prior, DoDo received $5 million, he said.
There are ways the military can reduce the amount that it is paying to military family members, Zulles said.
For instance, the cost per person for housing in a military housing facility can be cut by up to 10% depending on the size of the facility, he explained.
For those with military spouses, there are other ways the DoP can cut down on its military housing payments.
According to a 2014 Government Accountability report, military families could pay the DoDEP and DoL for a percentage of their monthly housing costs if they chose to do so.
“This would be possible because DoDEP provides housing benefit payments for active military members as well as spouses of active military service members,” the report said.
Military families can also choose to take on part of their own military housing costs, which could reduce the DoDP’s monthly housing benefits.
But the DoDN can’t directly cut military housing benefits, according Zulli.
“If we want to make adjustments, we would have to adjust the payment based on a variety of factors,” he said, adding that the military pays for housing that is not covered by DoDP.
As the DoDL grows and military housing is cut, military housing rates can rise, which may have an impact on how much DoDP can pay military families for housing, Zulis said.
The cost of military housing can increase by up or down with the cost that a member’s military paygrade increases.
Military Housing Benefits, or HAVAs, are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.
They are also not taxable.