I recently wrote to soldier magazine with a view to trying to get an answer as to why married unaccompanied personnel in the Army have to pay an SLA charge but those in the other two services do not. Given that we now have a Joint Service Pay publication one would expect that allowances would be the same. Sadly not. I recieved a reply back this morning which has angered me beyond belief, not because it was not the answer I was hoping for but because of the attitude it displays. I have posted my original letter bleow alon with the reply and my response to that reply: NB: This is not posted in the NAAFI bar so sensible comments only please. Sir, I am a 29 year old Army Officer serving voluntary married un-accompanied, and living in an RAF Mess. I was interested to note that my RAF colleagues do not pay an accommodation charge when they serve unaccompanied and was given a reference in JSP 754. Given that I have been paying an accommodation charge since I married just over a year ago I thought that it was an administrative error and I would be able to claim back the pay. When I checked the JSP I was sadly mistaken, apparently Army personnel under 37, serving VOLSEP pay accommodation charges but the RAF and Navy do not. The only provision made by the Army for those who seek to provide stability for their families by maintaining their own home is the over 37 package, I am however several years away from being eligible for this. Why do we have a JSP, and then have different Single Service quirks? I feel I am being discriminated against on three counts, because I am in the Army, under 37 and wish to provide my family with stability in this environment of increased operational tempo. Capt XXXX Dear Captain XXXX, I have received a reply to email of 1 Feb. The response is from Brigadier Jamie Gordon, DPS(A): "The current SLA charging policy for voluntary unaccompanied personnel differs across the three Services due to specific single-service requirements. The Army encourages accompanied service, particularly for those below 37 years of age, and as a consequence only gives an entitlement to a waiver of SLA charges for its personnel once they have reached 37. The policy was due to be reviewed within the proposals of home ownership as part of the Strategic Remuneration Review, shortly to be decided. I anticipate no resolution, so we will return to the charge." I am sorry it is not the answer you are looking for. Regards Doreen Doreen Cadwallader (Major (Retd)) Editorial Assistant Soldier Magazine 94222 2360 (01252 347360) email@example.com My bold, that was the bit which lit the blue touch paper and was the catalyst for this response. Dear Doreen, Thank you for your email, and taking the time to present this case to the chain of command. I must say it was a very disappointing attitude displayed by the Army. To say the Army encourages accompanied service is an ill thought out response. What that translates to is that the Army wants their personnel to disrupt their famillies every two years, or less as increasingly frequently the case, so that their children have to move schools and lose the stability of a familliar educational environment; that spouses should not have a career too, thus limiting the quality of life that patrents can provide their family; that given the high operational tempo spouses must be left to cope on their own rather than being able to be in the familliar surroundings of their own home and near to their own families; that the only way to ensure continuity of education for one's children is to send tham away to boarding school rather than keeping them in in a family home environment thus abrogating the responsibility for raising their children to strangers; to encourage married personnel to move into substandard housing, which is poorly maintained, poorly insulated so that they have very high energy bills, that they can never call their own home as they are only ever transient. To put an age bar on SLA charging is also ridculous, what difference is there between an individual who is 36 six years and 264 days old as opposed to one who is 37, the answer is none at all. What is even more galling is that the Brigadier speaks of a forthcoming review but it appears a decision has already been taken to continue this unrealistic, out of touch and discriminatory policy. What the Army needs to accept is that it is the Service person who is living in SLA that is making a big sacrifice in order to best look after their family. This is just another example of not changing things because it is easier not to, we would still be marching into battle wearing red coats if it was the easier option. This is the same organisation which increased the charges for married quarters more than they increased pay this round so yet again the serviceman is out of pocket. Would this have happened with a civillian employer, no. Why, because the Unions would have been straight to the throat at such a display of discrimination. Of course we in the Armed Forces are not allowed to be members of a Union. We have been given permisson to form a Federatoin however, but who are they, how does one contact them, what can they do for us? I dispair for the Serviceman, increasingly called upon to do more but given less and less, and the MOD wonders why there is a retention issue. We join the Forces because we are driven by a desire to serve our country, we are highly motivated driven individuals who give our loyalty and our blood is it too much to ask that we be supported in giving the best possible quality of life to those that support us? I apologise for venting in this manner but I was tuely disappointed at the attitude displayed by the chain of command. Please feel free to pass these comments on to the editorial team if you view them as worthy of publication, otherwise thank you for your efforts. Ben My bold again, anyone know the answer?