Steve Rogers reemerged from the grave and seems to have money to spend, can it be that he is receiving back pay for the years of military service after being declared missing in action (MIA)? According to the Army benefits website, “Soldiers designated with Captive, Missing, or Missing in Action (MIA) status are entitled to receive the pay and allowances to which entitled when the status began or to which the Soldiers later become entitled.”
Steve Rogers was declared MIA at the end of World War II where in the final days on or before April 18th, 1945 he and Bucky were attempting to stop Barron Zemo’s a bomb-loaded drone-plane when the plane exploded. The explosion seemed to kill Bucky and launched Captain Rogers into the icy water of the English Channel. It was at this time that he entered into a state of suspended animation.
Captain America was declared MIA. According to the Department of Defense Rogers would have remained MIA until a board of inquiry or review recommended that he be declared dead. Department of Defense, Instruction Number 2310.05 January 31, 2000. In order for the board to recommend that he be declared dead they would need to find that credible evidence exists that Captain Rogers was dead or conversely that there is no evidence that he is alive. The military in control of the area when he went missing would need to have done a thorough search of the area and have filed a report.
There is an argument here that had they done a thorough investigation of the area surrounding the plane that exploded that they may have found his frozen body. But, depending on the depth that he sunk perhaps not. If all of the military protocols were followed and there was no evidence that he could possibly still be alive, and then the evidence suggest that he probably would not have survived the explosion then he could have been declared dead which would have led to a death benefit pay out to his next in kin. When he turned out to be alive any death benefit payout would be an offset to his back pay. A death benefit payout would not stop the back pay from accruing nor would it bar any possibility of receiving the back pay. There have been instances where someone was thought to have been killed in action and then has been recovered and they have received their back pay.
Determining that Captain Steve Rogers is entitled to some back pay is fairly straight forward. He was declared MIA; I believe that the Government would want to leave him categorized as MIA so as not to kill an American Icon for the war effort. They could conceivably to this as there has been no conclusive evidence of his death. Even had he been determined to be deceased his next in kin would have received a lump sum payment, however upon his return the amount paid out would just be offset in his back pay. The more difficult part is determining how much pay he is entitled to.
Many theories and articles already exist about how exactly to calculate the amount. They are based and founded on the documentation of what soldier’s earned in WWII. Many of the calculations include promotions as well as hazard pay, and even special skills pay. In some instances, the person calculating has gone as far as to have added inflation. I would argue however, that Captain America was not on the regular military pay or promotion track. He was a volunteer who received the “Super-Soldier” serum which allowed him to enlist. The military gave him a special shield and made him an icon. I’m not sure what promotion could be given to Captain America, truly. Go on give it a try, General America just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
One thing that all of the articles have in common is that Steve Rogers is entitled to at least a million dollars. No matter how conservative you are with your numbers, with simple interest it is not difficult over 65+ years of back pay to rack up a million. That being said, some of the higher estimates of 6 to 8 million may be a bit on the Captain America fan club groupie side of the pay scale. The U.S. Government loves Captain America but they aren’t going to be in love with an 8-million-dollar payout to one soldier. Even if he is “Super”.
The issue of suspended animation is also a situation of first impression. The U.S. Government could easily use this situation to lower the amount of back pay owed. An argument could be made that suspended animation is equivalent to death and that his back pay would have been suspended from the moment he was in suspended animation. I would assume however that the outcry from veterans and the general population at large if Captain America was treated poorly would lead the Government away from this avenue, especially as he is still working with S.H.I.E.L.D.
Steve Rogers also says that he “can’t afford an apartment in Brooklyn”, indicating that he certainly isn’t receiving the higher estimates of back pay. It would seem although Captain America doesn’t seem on the brink of needing government assistance that he also is not going to be joining the billionaire club with Tony Stark anytime soon.