Bravo is for: BAH.
I talked last week about acronyms and BAH was mentioned. What that actually stands for is Basic Allowance for Housing. This is part of your military spouse’s benefits and pay. It’s an allotment of money which is meant to help cover rent and/or household expenses such as utilities. What they don’t tell you going in? It can change. It changes with rank. It changes at the whim of Congress. And, it changes with each PCS, permanent change of station, or simpler put: move. Your BAH is based on the cost of living in the area in which your military spouse is stationed, and it can vary widely. Oh! It’s also rank structured. The more stripes one has the more BAH you are allotted.
You figure out pretty quickly just how darn important BAH is and you also figure out pretty quickly you need to scrutinize every month’s LES. That’s a leave and earnings statement. Basically, it’s the military members pay stub.
Over the years, I learned there’s a such thing as fleecing the government. You see, some people were using this BAH as a lucrative marriage of convenience tool. Guy or gal approaches guy or gal…’Hey, friend. We’re pretty good friends. Don’t love ya, but am willing to marry you for some extra dough we can rake in each month. What ya say?’ Oh yes, folks, this is a real scam. In fact, it put me to thinking one day how I could weave it into a story. Not only did I weave it, it became the basis for a work I had out a few years back which will be re-releasing later this year or next spring about a Marine who tries to do the noble thing by his pregnant-by-another high school crush to provide a roof over her head. Little did she know how much trouble he could get into attempting this little ruse. Let’s have a look in on the newlyweds…
“Sue,” Dee gasped, dropping her arms and stomping one foot. “Please tell me your filter didn’t leak.”
“I’m sorry,” Sue said, tears forming and beginning to fall down her cheeks. “You know I have a problem in that area. I didn’t mean to. It slipped.”
“How much slipped?” Jill demanded.
“Well, it started out just a little bit and then it snowballed and before I could get it stopped I’d told Swift’s wife almost the whole story,” Sue admitted. “I was shopping in the commissary and the line was long and she was behind me and she started gossiping about that guy over in Watkins who’s married to a woman with five kids but they both have lovers on the side. You know the one, right? He’s the one you always see doing pull-ups on the playground equipment…”
“Sue, honey, your filter is wide open right now,” Jill said, taking the woman’s hands from around her nape. “Dial it back and focus. What did you tell her?”
“That not everyone who married for money was like them, that sometimes a couple actually made it work even if they did start out just doing it for money, in the end it worked out and they really did love each other…and then before I could stop it, I said, you know, like Calli and Eli. They didn’t even have sex until they’d been married for four months. Now they’re like a couple of rabbits. And you should see the google eyes they make at each other. Sickening really. And she said, what about that baby, I thought they did that at Myrtle Beach, and I said no, that’s not even his baby…” By this time her breath was coming in short, choppy gasps and she was as pale as Calliope was.
“Calli, you told the girls all that?” Eli asked, wondering where he’d been and how that had happened exactly. Not to mention how she’d managed to keep that a secret for as long as she had apparently with Sue being the unfiltered blabber mouth she was. “When did this happen? And why? Why did you tell them all that?”
“The night you were recalled.” She backed up and sat in a patio chair then leaned over as if trying to place her head between her knees but unable to quite get there with her now very healthy girth in the way. “I had no idea you could get in trouble for marrying me,” she mumbled from her hunched over position. “I’m so sorry. You were off doing your job and I screwed up.”
“Actually, no he wasn’t. And how exactly is any of this your fault, Calli, when he told the guys long before that,” Sue said then slapped a palm across her lips.
“What?” Calliope said, peering up. “You weren’t at work that night?”
“Not exactly,” Eli said, running one hand over the top of his head. “I freaked out after the doctor’s appointment that day and I was at Nelson’s all night. After they pulled me out of Swenson’s. I was sort of a little bit tore up and the guys took me there to sober up so you wouldn’t see me like that.”
Calliope pushed to sit all the way up and pressed her hands to her face covering everything but her eyes. For a few minutes, a blanket of suffocating silence fell over the group. Then she stood and turned then dropped her hands.
“Is there anything true about anything that’s gone on for the last few months, Eli Taylor Jackson?” she asked. “Has anything been true?”
I can’t wait to get this story back out there! Until then, you can find all the books I currently have available HERE.