Military COLA for Guam increased; may benefit island businesses

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(PNC file photo)

Joint Region Marianas has announced a two-point increase in the Cost of Overseas Living Allowance (COLA) index for service members assigned to Guam.

The COLA increase became effective in the pay system last Aug. 16, and will be applicable to service members’ pay in the subsequent pay periods.

Cmdr. Jason Meyers, Marianas Islands Range Complex operations deputy director of Joint Region Marianas, said he sees prices continuing to rise and the money will help him and his family with the growing costs.

He said COLA helps military families to deal with the fact that it costs more to purchase goods and services on Guam than on the mainland and he doesn’t see prices decreasing, but increasing.

Guam is primarily a tourism-based economy that has higher prices on most name brand goods, which could discourage service members from shopping outside the bases when prices rise.

But JRM said the increase of COLA may help to stimulate the local economy as service members might be more likely to shop off base more frequently than on base as it won’t be as much of a financial burden.

“Personally, I tend to eat out a lot, and the increase in COLA will likely be spent on trying new restaurants out in town,” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt Brett E. Lazaroff, communication strategy & operations officer, Marine Corps Activity Guam, in a news release.

Food and services are not the only costs that are increasing and Meyers has advice for newly stationed service members in Guam.

“The roads here accelerate the wear and tear on your vehicle,” said Meyers. “Repairs need to happen often and are not cheap. Take the opportunity to set some of this extra money aside to deal with those bills when they roll in. After last year’s dramatic COLA decrease it’s good to see that they are raising the rates somewhat again.”

The Overseas Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) is a non-taxable allowance designed to offset the higher overseas prices of non-housing goods and services. It affects approximately 250,000 Service members at 600 locations overseas

For more information on COLA, visit www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/cola.cfm

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