Starting again at 50, learning new things and finding new things to be passionate about ... and as I go, writing it down.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Can I Vent About the Marine Corps?
Can I vent a little about the USMC?
My son is a Marine.
I absolutely adore my son. I mean really, look at him, pretty handsome devil isn’t he?
He is in the USMC Reserves out of Lynchburg, Virginia.
He returned recently from a deployment in Iraq. He and his friends who went on this deployment served honorably, in a war zone. They all came home safely, fortunately.
Okay so now I want to vent about the Marine Corps. However, let me start by apologizing if you will. My opinions are my own and if you are wondering, no, I did not go and do a bunch of research about this issue, I am basing it on the limited information I have received from my son and others in the Corps.
First off, my son returned in October, was on active duty until the first of December. When he left on his deployment, he changed his address to one in Tennessee as he gave up an apartment etc., in Virginia, and his sister acted as his power of attorney while he was gone.
When he returned, his plan was to finish his active duty time with his unit, and then head west, first to visit me and his sister in Tennessee, then continue west to spend time with his dad and other friends and family in California.
This is how it apparently works … when he got back and was still on active duty he did not have a home in Virginia. He chose not to get an apartment since his plan was to be gone for over a month traveling and visiting family for the holidays and beyond. He needed to be back in Virginia for his first Drill weekend in February. So, the Marines, because his address was over 50 miles from his unit, put him up in a hotel. He was also allowed a per-diem for food during this time. The Marines however, don’t pay the per-diem up front; they reimburse the Marine for it.
Brendan was supposed to receive his final paycheck from his deployment that included all his per-diem pay and any other final payments on December 10. He arrived in Tennessee in late November in time for Thanksgiving, then left to head west with three of his fellow Marines with him.
December 10 came and went without pay. It seems someone back at his unit had made an error on paperwork that had been submitted for their pay. The paperwork was returned, apparently corrected and resubmitted. Unfortunately it seems, there was still some problem and the paperwork was returned a second time. It was again resubmitted but this time was past some deadline, which is in place so the young men were told they would now be paid January 10.
As is the way government often works, it seems nothing can get done outside of the government’s schedule.
Now I’m sure you can see where this may be going; by the end of December these boys have now been home for two months but not yet paid. I can only assume that the paycheck they received before coming home was actually sometime in October so I’m betting it has actually been three months since they have been paid.
The guys did all they could through their own chain of command to try and speed the process. Their bills went unpaid or were late, or they were forced to borrow money in order to keep their heads above water.
January 10th came and went, and still no pay. Between the Marine Corps and the civilian agency that has something to do with processing the reservists pay there is plenty of finger pointing about whose fault it is.
I don’t really care who is at fault. I am angry. Not just for my son who has gone without pay but for any service member who has gone to war for this country and now we can’t seem to find a way to pay them? In addition, it doesn’t look like anyone in the government is going to do anything to help them repair damaged credit because the United States Government can’t pay them!!!!!!
This is bullshit. Sorry it just is. Someone should be finding a way to issue a check from wherever it has to come from, today, immediately to get these service members paid.
But, this was not my first gripe about how these returning reservists get treated. So since I’m venting, might as well continue huh?
Brendan wanted to return to school. He has his Bachelor’s degree (in Philosophy and Religion)but very much wanted to get his Masters Degree in Civil Engineering (which obviously goes well with his MOS of a Combat Engineer).
This is exactly what the GI Bill is for, right?
Well, not so fast.
In order to get the full benefit of the GI Bill, the service member must have the requisite number of months of active duty. Therefore, in order for my son to have his education paid for by the GI Bill he would have to have 36 months of active duty.
That doesn’t seem so difficult, let’s see, 3 months of boot camp, 3 months of MOS school, then he was put on active duty a few months before deployment to prepare, then his actual deployment … well that must be 18 months right there, right? Wrong.
The government doesn’t consider his time at boot camp or MOS school active duty time. So now he has what, 12 months of active duty time. In order for him to receive the maximum school benefit (which by the way is most likely the only way he could do it since he is paying off huge school loans already for his undergraduate studies), he will have to probably be activated and deployed two more times.
As a mother I would prefer not, thank you.
But as an American I look and see that he has been in the Marines now for two years of a six year contract, and now in order to get to use the GI Bill he will have to be deployed two more times in the next four years? For reservists it seems active duty time usually means a deployment; I don’t think reservists are usually put on active duty to stay stateside. That is a whole lot of time being deployed.
Now, I really think the GI Bill is a wonderful idea and I completely support the idea that if you are in the military you can receive GI Bill benefits to go to school, anyone in the military. Please understand I am not thinking that someone else should not receive the benefit and my son should. But someone who joins a branch of the military as a “regular”, they are considered “active duty” throughout their time in the military. Therefore, they then, could spend three years behind a desk, never being deployed or going to some place not in a war zone and get the full GI Bill benefit, go to school for free. And my son and his fellow reservists who went to Iraq or those who went to or are in Afghanistan can’t until they get three years of active duty time?
Something is wrong with this picture. I think that any service member who is deployed to a war zone should automatically receive the maximum education benefit allowed so that while not deployed they can further their education.
There are many government programs I would prefer not to foot the bill for, this is one I am more than willing for my tax dollars to support.