Military pay is divided into two categories: basic pay which is taxable, and other allowances which are not taxable. Non-taxable allowances include BAH (basic allowance for housing), BAS (basic allowance for subsistence), per diem for travel, and a clothing allowance. Members of the armed forces are allowed to claim legal residence in their home state if they so desire which may also affect their state tax status.
Current annual pay for an E-6 in the Coast Guard Band with no prior service is $56,140 (without dependents) and $62,188 (with dependents).
Due to the limited amount of Coast Guard Housing, band members do not receive on-base housing but instead receive a BAH as part of their pay.
Leave (Vacation) Time
Band members receive 30 days paid leave each year plus some federal holidays. The Coast Guard Band uses a “blanket leave” policy where specific time within the year is set aside to allow members to use their leave days. Leave requests outside of the blanket leave period are considered on a case-by-case basis and may be approved depending on the performing/rehearsals schedule and mission needs of the band.
All members of the U.S. Armed Forces are automatically enrolled in TRICARE, the Department of Defense’s health care program for active duty personnel, retirees, and their families. Through TRICARE, members receive free comprehensive medical and dental care as needed at any military health care facility or civilian TRICARE providers. Family members may also be enrolled in TRICARE and receive medical care at military or civilian facilities through various options for little or no cost. Visit http://www.tricare.mil/ for more information.
U.S. Coast Guard members may participate in the Service Members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program at very reasonable rates.
Pension and Retirement
The current system is a blend of a 20-year defined benefit and a defined contribution plan. Members under the modernized retirement plan will see their defined benefit multiplier (pension) reduced from 2.5 percent to two percent and will be auto-enrolled at three percent of their basic pay into a portable TSP account upon entry to military service. Following initial entry training, each member will be able to elect their own TSP contribution level.
If a member desires to opt out of the TSP contribution for a particular year, they will automatically be renewed at three percent the following year. After 60 days of service, the Coast Guard will automatically contribute one percent of a member’s basic pay (or inactive duty pay for a Selected Reserve member) to the member’s TSP account. This one percent contribution will continue until the member separates, retires or reaches 26 years of service. This contribution is automatic and does not change during a member’s career. After the completion of two years of service, the Coast Guard will match the service member’s contribution up to an additional four percent (for a maximum of five percent total) and will continue to match that contribution until the member separates, retires or reaches 26 years of service. Each member will own all government contributions to their TSP after two years of service. After 20 years of service, a Coast Guard member will be eligible to receive a defined benefit multiplier of two percent (it’s currently 2.5 percent). A member retiring may choose to receive a lump-sum payment of either 25 or 50 percent of the total retirement benefit and a reduced monthly payout. The modernized retirement plan will also include the offer of Continuation Pay to encourage retention beyond 12 years of service and provide additional income during a member’s career. The Coast Guard will offer Continuation Pay between 2.5 and 13 times one month’s basic pay for active duty and between 0.5 and 6 times one month’s IDT pay for reserve. Any member who elects to receive Continuation Pay will incur a 4 year service obligation.
All members of the band are eligible for enrollment in the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Full information about these programs can be found at www.gibill.va.gov.
The Coast Guard also has several programs to assist with furthering your education and tuition assistance. For more information on these programs visit http://www.uscg.mil/hr/cgi/
Members of the Coast Guard Band are entitled same benefits as other members of the Armed Forces. These include the use of military exchanges, commissaries, gymnasiums, exercise facilities and golf courses as well as services such as legal and financial assistance. Military MWR offices offer rentals of camping equipment, canoes, and athletic equipment at little or no cost. The Coast Guard Academy is a small military base, but the New London Submarine Base in Groton, CT offers many of these services.