When Renee Swift, an Air Force officer, married an active-duty Navy pilot, the couple added to their already-challenging careers a third, seemingly full-time job: coordinating their advancements and deployments around the life and the home they shared. “In our marriage, we have lived apart longer than we have together, because of our military careers’ demands,” Swift says. The near-inevitability of physical separations in the military, through deployments or separate assignments, is so common that those who undertake it are called “geographic bachelors.” For all intents and purposes, they live as though they are unmarried and childless.
The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act coming out of the Senate has a controversial proposition: eliminate base allowance for housing for the junior-ranking spouse of a dual-military marriage and reduce allowances to 75% for military service members who choose to room with their fellow military. Currently, service members in dual-military marriages each draw their own housing allowance at the non-dependent rate. Once a child is born, the higher-ranking member draws at the dependent rate, while the junior ranking continues drawing his or her own allowance at the non-dependent rate. If the Senate is successful with this proposition, at least 40,000 service members in dual-military marriages, plus the ones who choose to room with fellow military, could be affected.