Navy FLOCs and Poverty Guidelines…not worth the paper they are written on

Don’t forget to read the previous two posts:

Part 1: Navy Community Outreach

Part 2: HYT+

To round out the last portion of NAVADMIN messages that tell us the Navy is in bad shape all around, let’s start with the Basic Needs Allowance. On initial reading, it doesn’t seem too bad. It basically says we’re going to pay Sailors that fall below 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines an additional amount of money:

2.  In line with reference (a), reference (b) established Department of Defense policy for BNA.  Reference (c) authorizes the Chief of Naval Personnel to implement BNA policy.  The BNA program provides a monthly allowance to Sailors whose gross household income (GHI) and household size place them below 130 percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) for their permanent duty station (PDS) location.
BNA provides additional income to address the difference between GHI from the previous calendar year (CY) and 130 percent of the FPG for the current CY.  BNA is payable to eligible Sailors who voluntarily apply beginning on or 
after 23 December 2022.  These references, frequently asked questions, templates, and other BNA resources can be found here:  https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/References/Pay-Benefits/N130C/.

OK, so what IS the Federal Poverty Level? You can conveniently find them here:

Now, if you’re thinking “That looks like a really, really small amount of money…” you’d be right. A little bit of Excel magic brings us some insight:

So, what do we learn from this? Well, if you’re a married E1 and your spouse doesn’t work, you might meet the threshold. If you’re an E2 or E3, married with a baby at home, you’ll probably meet the threshold. If you’re anything else…probably not. For this chart, I’m only counting basic pay, which means that if you got some sort of bonus that would count towards your income, you’re probably above the cap.

Here’s the other catch too….you don’t sit at those junior ranks for very long. Sailors can promote relatively quickly to E-5, which by 4 years of service is making over 3,000 a month. So unless you have three kids by then, you’re not meeting these guidelines.

At best, this is helping super new, dirt poor Sailors, who are likely living on the ship, eating at the galley for free and are unlikely to be married. But for the vast majority, this does nothing. Maybe in a week when they release the new federal poverty guidelines I’ll be proven wrong, but I don’t see this making a big impact. And given that advancement is getting easier with everyone leaving, that makes it even less likely to be impactful to the average Sailor.

Speaking of more things not worth the paper they are written on…NAVADMIN 290/22. This NAVADMIN offers a Flag Letter of Commendation for each person you sign up for the Navy. Sounds like a good deal right?

4.  In order to incentivize Sailors to assist in this effort, CNRC has authorized a Flag Letter of Commendation (FLOC) (max of 2) for any Sailor who provides a referral that ultimately leads to a future Sailor contract.  These 
FLOCs are worth one point each towards advancement and can make all the difference when final multiple scores are calculated.

Except…one point doesn’t normally do that much. Answering one more question correctly on your advancement exam, which probably requires less time then it takes to recruit someone, would be worth more. FLOCs are nice gestures, but they are relatively meaningless in terms of actual impact compared to actual awards. Worse still, they offer zero incentives to officers, so the Navy hasn’t done anything to stem that tide.

Where does this leave us? Honestly, in no better shape. While the Navy plans on a community outreach blitz to bring up its image, its not addressing many of the systemic problems inside its ranks, whether its low pay, unaccountable leadership, or a lack of strategic direction. People are smart enough to see through the shiny veneer and gift wrap, so these measures aren’t going to bump up Navy numbers.

Long term, unless the Navy gets a grip on how far its fallen and why people don’t trust it anymore, its not going to persuade people to join.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

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