What is Combat Pay?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Members of the military receive combat pay while they serve in a combat zone.
Members of the military receive combat pay while they serve in a combat zone.

Combat pay is additional pay which is offered to members of a military while they serve in a combat zone. Many militaries offer combat pay to their members, recognizing the increased hazard of working in a combat zone, and combat pay often receives special treatment on tax returns. For example, combat pay may be tax-free in some nations, although individual soldiers should definitely contact an accountant to confirm this and to get additional details.

Officially, combat pay is known as “imminent danger pay."
Officially, combat pay is known as “imminent danger pay."

Officially, combat pay is known known as “imminent danger pay,” reflecting the fact that while soldiers are in a combat zone, they are in an immediate state of danger, and therefore, they deserve special compensation for their service. Combat entitlements vary, depending on the rank and the military in which someone serves, and they may also be accompanied with hardship duty pay, a pay bonus which is offered to people who are forced to work and live in conditions which are below their accustomed standard.

Most militaries have a complex military pay chart, which details the pay available to people at every rank, along with pay benefits. Combat pay charts include a list of the locations which are considered combat zones. Combat zones are usually nations in which a military is actively involved in a conflict, along with certain areas of the ocean which are used for military staging. Neighboring nations used to house bases may also be included on a combat pay chart, because these nations are often regarded as legitimate targets by the enemy.

While on deployment, soldiers are able to access a number of special payment benefits including combat pay and hardship duty pay. Soldiers with families, for example, can receive pay to compensate them for family separation, and family members may be eligible for special payments to make up for the absence of a family member. Active duty soldiers may also be eligible to access special savings plans which offer high rates of interest, along with other financial benefits like reduced taxes.

Members of the military would be well-advised to sit down with a military pay chart to make sure that they are being paid appropriately, and to see what kind of additional bonuses they are eligible for. Financial advisers can provide additional information about special duty pay, bonuses, and financial planning for members of the military. In nations where women are restricted from serving in combat positions, women are still eligible for combat pay as long as they are serving in a combat zone, even if they never see combat.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

truman12

@nextcorrea - I know what you mean. I did two tours in Iraq and my paychecks seemed pretty small for some of the things I saw and did.

I was lucky enough to come home unharmed, physically at least, but I was still bitter when I sat down and did the math about how much I was earning when I was really in the worst of it over there. You sign a contract, you know what you are getting into, but the reality doesn't really sink in until you come home. Frankly, I feel like I've been used

nextcorrea

I can't imagine how you could ever calculate combat pay. What is a fair number for walking into a war zone and risking your life? And even if you survive, imagine what kind of terrible wounds both physical and emotional that you might come back with. Is this worth triple pay, what about 10 times pay? I completely agree that they deserve more money for putting themselves in harms way but the number seems doomed to always be low.

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    • Members of the military receive combat pay while they serve in a combat zone.
      Members of the military receive combat pay while they serve in a combat zone.
    • Officially, combat pay is known as “imminent danger pay."
      Officially, combat pay is known as “imminent danger pay."