Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Soldier Pay Raise Promised.

Byline: John J. Lumpkin Journal Staff Writer

Kirtland Troops Welcome Bush Vow, Seek Other Changes

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE It's hard to argue when the boss says you are getting a raise.

Enlisted men and women at the base welcomed President Bush's $5.7 billion in promises of improvements in pay, health care and housing.

But the troops also said that such quality-of-life assistance can only go so far, adding that the pace or length of deployments, their family situations and job satisfaction will play a role in whether they decide to re-enlist.

Bush on Monday announced a $310 billion proposed Pentagon budget for 2002, up $14 billion from the current figure. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said $5.7 billion of the new money will improve the quality of life for troops; the rest will help other projects keep pace with inflation.

The president's proposals are "focused the right way," said Chief Master Sgt. Edward Olesnevich, Kirtland's senior enlisted man and a 29-year veteran.

While pay is a "big concern for everybody," he said, "people don't stay in for the money. …

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