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Published on March 4th, 2013 | by Luis Cavalcanti



Hope Hodge of Marine Times, seems to have uncovered a bit of juicy news that illustrates another incredible consequence of the governments insistence on social engineering. But this time, instead of giant credits being given to tax payers for electrical cars (much of which resulted in the purchasing of brand new golf carts) this time it’s marines taking advantage of the benefits given to them when they get married. The story is behind a paywall and most of you, I imagine, don’t subscribe to this well-respected, but largely unknown publication. So I’ll give you a little insight into what is in her 2500 word story.

She outlines the story of Lance Corp. Donald A. Mitchem. Mitchem who got married for to an illegal from Ghana in exchange for a few thousand dollars, a significant bump in pay, and his dignity. After their courthouse wedding, they went to their separate cars, and drove off, never to see one another again. Romantic right?

How much do Marines make when they get married?

Well, their base pay increase is between aroudn $1100 per month and $2,000 per month depending on where they are stationed. They are (or at least Mitchem was) eligible for a $350 stipend earmarked for food and such, and since the marriage was a sham and Mitchem did not live near his beautiful wife, he was given $250 in exchange for the hardship that the separation caused. That brings the total to somewhere between a $1700 and $2600 bump in pay EACH MONTH. That’s right, taxpayers are paying marines who are working the system between 20,400 and 31,200 each year in extra take-home pay.

Isn’t it great when government creates incentives?

About the Author

Luis Cavalcanti


  1. S says:

    Would it be okay if I cross posted this to my website at All due credit will be given to you and your blog of course.

  2. Luis Cavalcanti says:

    Post it wherever you want. Just link here and to the original article if you can.


  4. Chris K says:

    To be fair, these guys put their lives on the line for shit pay. So I don’t really have a problem with this. It’s not like they are govt contractors who are raping tax payers with billion $$ private military contracts. Let these guys have an extra slice of cake…..they put their lives on hold and don’t question why most of the time.

  5. Mason says:

    I recall hearing of this kind of thing when I was in the Navy. The amounts were different then, but the concept the same. So, either you do away with the additional pay (bad idea), or increase everyone’s pay equally (based on rank), regardless of marital status (great idea, but probably too expensive). So what’s the solution?

  6. Hah says:


  7. Jimminy says:

    Who cares? They’re underpaid as it is, get off your high horse already. I might care about this when being a soldier no longer comes with the added bonus of being spat on by liberals all across this country (who then claim dissent is patriotic), or perhaps when being a soldier no longer comes with the obligation to put their lives on the line. Or, I might never care. I’ll let you know if I ever do.

  8. Nicole says:

    This isn’t anything new. It’s been going on for decades, in every branch of the military, in all sorts of rates and ranks.

  9. sharpspoonful says:

    Oh no! Marines trying to get paid at a minimum wage salery?! Egads, woman! This is an atrocity!

    All sarcasm aside, you do realize that an E4 and below barely break past the poverty line in regards to wages, right? Its not right, but I’m sure as hell not going to fault the marines for utilizing the system to try to pay off debts, cars, insurance, flying home to see loved ones, etc.

  10. MeYouTheOther says:

    I have less issue with a Marine doing this than say corporations and wealthy people having off shore accounts, or even rich Senators\Congressman getting Agricultural subsidies for farms the own but don’t use. Marine’s getting a few extra bucks is peanuts. The of this stuff is some serious money.

  11. Craig says:

    It’s called a “contract marriage” and it’s nothing new. All branches of the military have been doing it since BHA was established. It’s also known about, but there’s nothing that can be done. Nothing says you have to live with your spouse, and there’s no way to fix this.

  12. EBK says:

    Contract marriages are rare, although they do happen. The bigger problem, in my opinion, is the huge incentive to get married so the Marine can move out of the barracks. By and large, Marines living in the barracks get treated like crap and, depending on their jobs, are often the first ones called should something happen after hours or someone not show up for duty. I think the Marine Corps could go a long way toward addressing the problem of Marines getting married too young and for the wrong reasons by looking at the overall quality of life barracks Marines have.

    Sure it is a barracks and there needs to be rules, but it is also their homes, and they deserve some freedoms as well.

  13. A disappointed long time reader says:

    While I agree to the bullshit of the fake marriage, some of what you said is wrong. The 350 dollar stipend is Basic Allowance for Subsistence. It’s for food and never goes up, regardless of dependency status. The basic pay will never go up for dependency status. The only thing that raises is the Basic Allowance for Housing. That goes from a lower “without dependent” rate to a high “with dependent” rate. You might want to fact check using google prior to posting. Check sources, I expect better. If you believe I am wrong please search “basic allowance for housing rates” on google for different area codes and see the difference is usually 300$. Assuming this took 1-3 years to uncover that range is 3600$-11200$. While ridiculous and absolutely dishonorable, don’t place blame on the government via scapegoat tactics.


  15. Tia Marie says:

    Yup this goes for pretty much most of the branches. It was the case when I was in the military. However, I could care less as a tax payer that this happens.

    You know why? Pay is crap in the military. I spent 4 years active duty as a single mother, living in base housing and doing multiple deployments. I topped out at about $25,000 a year salary (not including health care/housing) and spent a large amount of that on child care that the military didn’t cover (it ranged from $160 a week to 2/3 of my monthly pay). I had to be on public assistance for baby formula after he was born.

    The same tax payers that voted in 2000 to put a president into power who raised the need for military. The same tax payers that sent people to war. And now the same tax payers who don’t want to pay for our veteran’s PTSD treatments, brain injuries, mental health care, and other war related injuries.

    Marriage of convenience happens all over the US and gets people tax benefits. So… why do you seem to care more about marines doing it who are doing the US’s international dirty work and not civilians who are doing it for tax benefits?

  16. Luis Cavalcanti says:

    I did fact check. This is a story from a very credible source, the Marine Times. If you have an issue with the facts, you can take it up with the original reporter.

  17. Luis Cavalcanti says:

    Getting tax breaks and being given tax payer money are two completely different things. In one scenario, I get to keep more of what I earned. In the other scenario, I get to take more of what someone else earned.

    You’re right, pay isn’t great. That’s why it’s called SERVICE. You SERVE for a few years, or you SERVE for longer. You don’t get rich doing it, but you are taken care of if you put in your time. I’m so sick of military folks thinking that they are entitled to things because they did something hard. Get over it. You chose to do something noble, good for you. Now that you have some expectations of recompense, however, the noble act becomes nothing more than selfish. You are not entitled to honor, you are not entitled to more money. You are entitled to what you were told you would get. You are entitled to your life and liberty. No more no less. But if you think that stealing the money of tax payers is just some allowance, something you’re owed, there is a special corner in hell for that kind of thinking.

  18. Jason says:

    How is this breaking? This has been this way for over 20 years. Happens in all branches.

  19. Luis Cavalcanti says:

    Because the only people who knew about it were military. This practice is completely unknown to the civilian population. It astounds me that military personnel or those close to military personnel are confused by why this is breaking. It’s breaking because you have all kept your mouths shut about this practice.

  20. Eros says:

    Money shouldn’t be wasted, sure, but love your fallacy of composition: one incenti e has been gamed so LOLOMG all government incentive is bad!
    Awesome 7th grade reasoning. Keep it up!

  21. Formergrunt says:

    Hey lady,

    As a former Marine (it’s capitalized, btw), you’re a dick. Worry about something that matters, and learn how to use a comma.

  22. bob says:

    There is nothing respected about the Marine Times, that is about the same as legitimizing a story in NatEnquirer or any other supermarket tabloid, hell they are sold in the same rack on bases. Known for sensational headlines this isn’t even a quality paper to line a bird cage with.

  23. Luis Cavalcanti says:

    False. The Marine Times is a very credible publication.

  24. Luis Cavalcanti says:

    Hmm, nope, didn’t say that. But nice try.

  25. James says:

    @Jimminy: you’re an idiot for trying to claim liberals “spit on soldiers” across the country. Either you’re having a flashback to 40 years ago, or you’ve been living under a rock. I’m as California-liberal as they come, and guess what? I served proudly in the US Army. I’ve never met anyone in the last 20 years who’s had the slightest hint of disrespect in their tone, voice and actions when they learn I served. Drop the fake diva act, buddy.

    Us liberals want to support the soldiers with higher pay rates and better medical care and opportunities when they get out of service. Adjust your mind to reality.

  26. Frank says:

    Sensationalist much? The reason for the pay increase is to pay for housing and food.

    A single soldier/sailor/airman/Marine gets free housing [lives on base in the barracks/dorms] and free food [they have access to the chow halls].

    Unless married, lower enlisted [usually up to E-4, and sometimes higher] personel are required to live on base.

    If married, you don’t live in the dorms/barracks, and you don’t eat in the chow halls. The military gives you BAS [Basic Allowance for Sustinence], and BAQ [Basic Allowance for Quarters]. And it’s barely enough to pay for a decent appartment. Look it up; these rates are based on rank and Time in Service.

    No scam here, just basic common sense, which the OP seems to be lacking.

  27. Frank says:

    Also, it’s been going on for far longer than you’ve been concerned about it, and I can tell you, it’s not that common. The lack of research for this post is astounding.

  28. Bribri says:

    So what about the system that pays married shitbag’s 30k more than the hardworking single lower enlisted that work harder, earn less, and live by a lower standard of living? Have you ever lived in military barracks? You might think it’s wrong for Marines and Soldiers to enter into “sham” marriages, but I think it’s wrong that the system pays based on martial status and not merit. What do you think people will do with that kind of incentive?

  29. Philip says:

    All branches of the military take this sort of fraud very seriously.

  30. Luis Cavalcanti says:

    I don’t blame people for responding to perverse incentives. But I do think that the governments quest to create these incentives is always misguided and leads to this sort of problem.

  31. emdubwubwub says:

    And Bribri is the only one even REMOTELY on topic. The reason why it should bother you guys is because the policy is incentivizing getting married. Which up until recent times (or it might still be the case, fuck if I know) would require you to be heterosexual. It discriminates against people whose sexuality isn’t heteosexual by rewarding people who ARE heterosexual for no other purpose than they paid for a marriage license. Hurray for them, here’s $10-30k a year!

  32. Mike says:

    The reason for Contract Marriages has less to do with the BAH and more to do with the situation you are placed in if you don’t rate BAH. The barracks situation in the Marine Corps is atrocious. Many of the barracks are in a poor state of repair. Mold is common, the functionality of your utilities is often in flux, over-crowding runs rampant (3 to 4 in a room no bigger than the common bedroom of an apartment), and your time is often taken advantage of. The food that is provided to you is questionable, sitting somewhere in quality between prision and Guantanamo. And with the Sequestering it is only going to get much worse. Much of the cuts to the budget will effect personnel directly, base maintenance is being cut, which is a laughable concept that there was anything to be cut.
    The Marine Corps was attempting to fix this issue, albeit in a too little too late manner. They started constructing new barracks, but their size and amount isn’t enough to alleviate the overcrowding. The Marine Corps will parade these around in front of media outlets as the new way, but for 95% of Marines living on base, they will never step foot in these new dwellings. Honestly their existence does more harm to Marines who go through the proper channels to acquire BAH and live out in town.
    In order for a Marine to get BAH while single, it needs to be applied for. But approval for these application are closed if the “bases” barracks capacity isn’t above 75% (iirc). The problem is the new barracks are built for 2 Marines, but are filled at 1. There are also many transient barracks on board bases that go empty until a reserve unit fills them for a short time, or a returning unit is waiting for a deploying unit to vacate their barracks. What this all means is that Base capacity usually sits around 50%. Even though I know from personal experience many companies will have near 200% capacity in their barracks.
    The contract marriage problem is directly related to the common Marine experience aboard base. If the situation and the experience of living in the barracks wasn’t a trifle, abhorrent existence then there wouldn’t be Marines finding increasingly clever ways of escaping the barracks. While your article does go into the pay that married Marines receive, that is actually a completely separate debate on whether extra pay for being Married or getting married is even fair.

    Also for future reference, the Marine Corps Times isn’t a very credible source. It is oft referred to as the Marine Corps Inquirer. It reports with disregard for the facts or feasibility, often putting inflammatory stories on the cover to sell copies rather then actually report on anything other than rumors or conjecture. The Lcpl who was the focus of the reference article is about as extreme a case of contract marriage as possible. That isn’t how contract marriages usually play out, although I’m sure many Marines would like to think they would be that easy.

  33. tara says:

    Hello. I just want to say that while you did “fact check” as it was in the marine corps times, you are not entirely right…

    Heres the deal… when you go into the military you are basically scum of the earth for a year or two.. you have to live in the barracks and deal with that prison life. You are called on first to take someones duty who didn’t report, you have to “police call” the parking lot and surrounding areas every single morning before work and clean up after drunk marines at night, and you have to live inside a tiny ass room with a roommate, and share at head with up to 3 other people. You have an inspection on this said barracks room once a week, and things better be spotless. You cannot have any hard liquor in your room, and no more than 6 beers per person… Starting to sound a little ridiculous right???

    Once you hit a certain mark, most of the time 1-2 years, you are entitled to move out off base, and find an apartment. You are given BAH, it was about 2000 grand in San Diego and the 350 for food. This is all WITHOUT GETTING MARRIED. Its because you waited your time and finally got the go ahead to move off base.

    So, what do a lot of Marines (and other service members do) for that matter? They get married so that they dont have to wait that 1-2 year hellish time, and expedite the process to move out. If you are married, then you are allowed to move out of the barracks and get housing for you and your “spouse” even if they do not live with you.

    I got paid shit when I was in the military. Yes I had free housing, the barracks, but I attribute that to prison, it was absolutely awful.

    So no, tax payers arent paying a shit ton of money in the full spectrum of things, they are paying a teeny tiny sprinkle compared to all those ridiculous government contracts that the politicians have with their buddies for defense equipment and such. I wont even get into how much money random parts of an F-18 cost, when you can go to Home Depot and get the same exact thing for 1/1000th of the price. The difference is Home Depot doesnt have a buddy in Congress and a contract…

    Basically, while this happens, its just that these guys are getting paid that extra allowancea year or two early, they are going to get it in the future without being married, they just choose to get married into a sham so they can get the money sooner instead of having to “do their time” in the barracks.

  34. Tasha says:

    Wow, breaking news huh, please noble service huh, do you realized most that are doing your noble service, are putting their lives on the line because they wanted to better their future because they didn’t have any other means of paying for an education… You want to nickel and dime them, as I’f they are getting rich of of this. How much is you life worth to you because you are only telling theirs is worth a medal for dying in combat for honor. Yay, please while your politicians are taking America up the ass and sleeping great @ night, you worried about additional dimes a military men might or might not make legitimately, without incentives why should they put their lives in jeopardy every deployment? Oh I forgot for your freedom to have diarrhea from the mouth….

  35. derrick rich says:

    To Tara: Where the hell do they let people move out of the barracks in 1-2 years? I’ve been in for FIVE YEARS and i’m an NCO and im STILL in the barracks. If you guys have a problem with people doing sham marriages then don’t reward others for getting married. Their spouse can get a job. In the barracks you can’t have guests past 10pm on weekends. Really? You can’t cook in your rooms. You have to share a fridge and im some cases a mini fridge. You don’t always get to go to the chow hall for every meal. Higher ups to care whether or not you get a chance to go to the chow hall. The solution is to stop treating single SM’s like crap and stop rewarding marriages.

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