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Some troops see bump in 2009 clothing allowance

Nov. 13, 2008 - 11:04AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 13, 2008 - 11:04AM  |  
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Service members will see relatively modest changes in their annual clothing allowances to pay for wear and tear on their military uniforms in fiscal 2009.

Soldiers and Marines are seeing slight increases in their standard clothing replacement allowances this fiscal year, due almost entirely to price changes on existing items.

The Navy's allowance for enlisted men stays the same and decreases slightly for women.

The Air Force clothing bag also stays essentially the same, with one exception — the introduction of a new type of combat boot. The new boot costs only slightly less than the old one, but the standard clothing allowance is going up by $93.60 for men and $86.40 for women because the Air Force has set a new replacement allowance for that boot.

Coast Guard allowances rise slightly with the addition of a foul-weather parka to that service's seabag.

The total value of the clothing bags rises modestly for the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. The Coast Guard has a slightly larger bump because of the new parka.

The value of the Navy's seabag, however, rises by $379.39 for men and $340.65 for women, driven by the addition of a variety of items associated with the new Navy Working Uniform.

Navy allowances are not rising in tandem because the service gave a big boost to its allowance rates last year so that sailors would have the money in hand when the Navy Working Uniform rolled out this year. So the value of the seabag now is simply catching up with last year's allowance increases.

The new allowances took effect Oct. 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

The military provides enlisted members a complete set of uniforms and accessories when they first enter service. They are then paid annual allowances based on how long it takes each item to wear out, dividing the cost by how many years the item is expected to last. For example, a duffel bag might be expected to last 10 years or more, while T-shirts would be expected to be replaced after a few months.

The clothing allowance typically is paid on the anniversary of a member's entry into the military.

At the end of their first year of active duty, enlisted members get half of the yearly allowance because it is assumed they do not need to replace any clothing in their first six months of service.

At the end of their second and third years of service, enlisted members receive a basic clothing allowance to begin replacing items from their initial issue as they wear out. After completing three years of active duty, enlisted members begin receiving the standard clothing allowance, which is higher than the basic allowance.

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