It has been claimed hundreds of soldiers, sailors and Air Corps staff have spent thousands of euro of their own money to get out of the Defence Forces.
PDFORRA, the organisation which represents staff, says that since January more than 170 personnel have paid as much as €40,000 each to be relieved of their duties.
The association says poor levels of pay is the main reason for members wanting to leave.
Former Captain in the Armed Forces, Dr Tom Clonan, said the Defence Forces have never recovered salary cuts made during the economic crisis.
He said: "When austerity hit in the financial crash, pay cuts were imposed on members of the Defence Forces and also a lot of their allowances were cut.
"So, unfortunately, they haven't experienced pay restoration, they are the only workers in the State who don't have any representation and unfortunately they really have been abandoned."
General Secretary of PDFORRA, Gerard Guinan, said: "Figures attained by PDFORRA show that 118 personnel have purchased their discharge from the Defence Forces in the past year. Additionally, 55 recruits have purchased their discharge and over 65 have just let their contracts lapse at 12 without re-engaging in service.
“The fact that the Minister continues to speak of basic pay rates which are comparable to other areas of the public sector belies the fact that many personnel, due to staff shortages, are required to work significant hours above normal routine.
"Right across the Public Sector the Working Time Directive applies and pay rates are based on set hours. Within the Defence Forces, however, pay is on an annualised basis and a small allowance is paid for those hours worked beyond normal duty hours.
"In this environment personnel are unlikely to remain in service, especially in times of growing economy.”
- Digital Desk