Bring It On!

Sergeant, Did You Pay The Power Bill?

July 10th, 2006 | by Ken Grandlund |

Seems like fighting the War Against the Evildoers and keeping the lights on at our Army posts at the same time is just too much to ask for. Oh well, just another sacrifice that our soldiers and their families will have to make while the rest of us keep shopping to defy the terrorists.

“A diversion of dollars to help fight the war in Iraq has helped create a $530 million shortfall for Army posts at home and abroad, leaving some unable to pay utility bills or even cut the grass.”

So basically, we have enough money for Halliburton to swindle in Iraq but not enough to pay the electric bill on our Army bases. Enough to give tax breaks to those poor, struggling oil giants but not enough to make sure that our Army bases have medical supplies or government communications like pagers or cell phones. Plenty in the coffers to fund proactive wars off the books, but not enough to pay the trash bill. Seems we even have enough money to give some more tax breaks to the rich, but at Fort Sam Houston (in our Dear Leader’s beloved TEXAS, no less) they might not be able to buy food for the horses that carry soldiers’ caskets to their graves.

In addition to not being able to pay the bills for utilities, U.S. Army installations worldwide are having to lay-off civilian contractors and close base services that those people staffed. Hmmm….what was that again about the blossoming economy and our growing ‘ownership society?’

Thank you again President Bush for all you do for our fighting men, women, and their families. Thank you Congress for all your support too, by giving all that he asks for and then some. We’ll just add this to the growing list of ways you’re Supporting The Troops. (Right next to sending them into a poorly planned battlefield, not giving them enough good armor, cutting funds to the Veteren’s Administration, cutting services that military families depend on like food stamps and student loans, or even constantly redeploying them into Iraq)

Gee, with leadership like this looking out for you, who needs radical religious enemies?

[tag]Army, Army Funding Shortfalls, War on Terror, Military, Bush[/tag]

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  1. 10 Responses to “Sergeant, Did You Pay The Power Bill?”

  2. By rimone on Jul 10, 2006 | Reply

    totally disgusting. and just as bad: Army forcing soldiers to pay for own uniform

    sorry in advance if link doesn’t come out.

  3. By Steve O on Jul 10, 2006 | Reply

    This is truly disgusting, I’m sure Sandy has some explanation for this.

    On a side note, Rimone, the military has always made the soldiers and sailors pay for their uniforms. It was one of the first deductions that came out of my pay check when I entered boot camp.

    They don’t tell you that upon signing up. I’m more pissed that they make you pay for shit that gets lost in combat. That’s a total crock!!! 

  4. By ken grandlund on Jul 10, 2006 | Reply

    Steve O is right Rimone, military members have always had to pay for uniforms out of their initial checks and thereafter as they buy them. That isn’t supposed to include specialized equipment though, and certainly not base utility bills.

    And Steve O- there is a lot they don’t tell you when signing up, and a lot they do tell you that turns out to be false. And they wonder why recruitment is down… 

  5. By Tom Harper on Jul 10, 2006 | Reply

    I read that same story.  Too much.  Unmowed grass, burned out light bulbs — these bases are gonna start bringing down property values.  This is the kind of thing you’d read about in the old Soviet Union.  The country was spending so many billions on war that everything else crumbled.  And now it’s happening to us.

  6. By l.long on Jul 10, 2006 | Reply

    Sorry folks, gotta waive the BS flag here.

    Units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan get new uniforms issued thru the Rapid Fielding Initiative.  Units scheduled for Bosnia and/or stateside units have a lower priority.  BUT, the new uniforms (ACU) are not mandatory until September 2007, and will be issued.  I got 5 sets before I came over  Basically, if a troop deploying to Bosnia wants the new uniforms before his unit is issued them, it’s out of his pocket.

    In all my 27 years of Army life, I never had to pay for uniforms out of an initial check (except for Dress Blues and extras)- in fact, I got a monthly clothing allowance.  What Army were you guys with?

  7. By tammara on Jul 10, 2006 | Reply

    dear long,

    my husband did have to pay for uniforms, even those that are the new acu pattern, and he had to have them before deploying to the cat box.  

    yes he gets a clothing allowance, then he gets told what clothes he has to buy with it.  

    and- although i suspect that this has since been rectal-fied what with all the publicity, a wounded soldier that had a body armor vest cut off him by a field medic was charged for the vest because he did not turn it or a form filled out by his nco in when he was discharged.  

    this, and not paying the electric bill, and truckloads of lost money poured into a rat hole in the cat box…. wtf?

     

  8. By L. Long on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    Ms Tammara:

    Curious as to what unit/state your spouse (and others with this problem) is assigned to - sounds like an IG matter to me.  In 27 years in the Army, I’ve never been in a unit that told me I had to buy uniforms before I could deploy. Can only speak for my experience though.  Also remember, whether required or not, uniform purchases are tax deductable.  Sorry my dear, still have to waive the BS flag.

    The soldier charged for his IBA has had that cleared up since - just a good old fashioned Army snafu. Tactless, but just a snafu.

    But we digress.  Not defending this, but remember:  on active Posts, the last quarter of the fiscal year is usually a belt tightening time, and it is not uncommon for many contracted services, such as those reported, to be neglected.  However, the fact that Fort Sam seems unable to pay their power bill  is beyond the common service.  Kinda need power to run things.  But reallocation of funds for the war is happening everywhere, most unreported.  The real question is what bang are we getting for our buck?(no pun intended)(yes it is)

    L. Long

  9. By Liberal Jarhead on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    Throughout my 20 years in the Marine Corps (I retired in 1996), I was also ordered to buy uniforms before deployments and also before major inspections.  I got a clothing allowance during my enlisted years, but at the rate we went through uniforms and boots in the infantry units I served in, it didn’t come near covering the costs.  I was never in this situation, but my little brother, while stationed in Hawaii as a sergeant (E-5), qualified for food stamps and commodity food stocks.  I thought that was pretty pathetic.  The base housing where he lived was infested with cane rats and snakes.

    Shortchanging the troops is an eternal thing.  In the late 70s, I remember that we NCOs had to pass the hat amongst ourselves to buy toilet paper for the barracks and salt and pepper for the messhall.  We didn’t have blanks for training, so we had guys running around yelling “Bang! Bang!” at each other, and crew-served weapons people that hadn’t fired their weapons since Infantry Training School.  It got better in the 80s but not better enough.

    The thing I’m seeing now that upsets me most in this area is that private groups are having to organize fund-raising drives to pay for things like body armor, rehabilitation centers for newly disabled vets, and so on, because the government is not meeting those needs adequately.  Gotta keep those tax breaks for the richest 2% going, though, and if sending our young people in harm’s way with inadequate armor is the price for the tax breaks, I guess that’s just their tough luck.

  10. By Liberal Jarhead on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    Here’s another example of something that’s just not right:

       War Veterans Denied GI Bill Benefits
        By Ron Martz
        Cox News Service

        Monday 10 July 2006

        Summerville, Georgia - Andy Rowe thought he had life after the Army pretty well figured out before he came home from eight months in Afghanistan in November 2003.

        An Army reservist since high school, Rowe, 27, planned to serve out the remaining four months of his military obligation in the inactive Reserve, get his honorable discharge and then use his GI Bill education benefits to go to college, just as his father did more than 30 years ago.

        But Rowe soon realized that, despite his time in a combat zone, he didn’t qualify for those education benefits unless he remained in the Reserves or Guard.

        It’s the same for tens of thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve troops mobilized since 9/11 - the largest deployment of reservists since World War II.

        When military benefits were updated in 1984 through a law called the Montgomery GI Bill, members of Congress and even the military did not envision reservists being called into active duty as frequently as they are today. The law did not extend full college benefits to citizen soldiers and terminated them once they left the Guard or Reserve.

        But since 2001, more than 500,000 reservists and Guard troops have been deployed for homeland security duties or sent to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet when they get home, they don’t get the same benefits as those who were active-duty service members.

        ”Looking at how the Reserve forces are being used now, it really upset me,” said Rowe, called up from the inactive Reserves to serve in Afghanistan.

        Retired Army Col. Bob Norton is deputy director for government relations for the Washington-based Military Officers Association of America, which is lobbying for an extension of benefits.

        ”Under the law, [reservists and Guard troops] are veterans for every single benefit except the education benefits,” Norton said.

        Primary opposition to changing the education benefit for reservists and Guard troops - those on duty one weekend a month and two weeks in summer unless they are called to active duty - is coming from the Pentagon’s Office of Reserve Affairs. Pentagon officials fear changes could hurt attracting and keeping men and women who sign up for the Guard or Reserve.

        ”It has proven to be a very attractive recruiting tool, and its effectiveness as a retention tool is certainly equally important to the Reserve components,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Thomas Hall testified in March before the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

        The Military Officers Association has helped put together a consortium of about 40 groups and service organizations that represent more than 5.5 million vets - including such stalwarts as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Association of the U.S. Army and Military Order of the Purple Heart - collectively known as the Partnership for Veterans Education. Several higher education associations such as the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education also are part of the consortium. Its aim: to try to persuade Congress to provide more equality in education benefits for citizen soldiers.

        The group is pushing especially hard for what it is calling the Total Force Montgomery GI Bill. One major selling point of this proposal is the portability of GI Bill education benefits. That would allow reservists such as Rowe to earn credits for education while mobilized, just like active-duty troops do, and then use them after they leave the service.

        Current law gives troops who serve on active duty three or more years to collect up to $1,034 a month for 36 months as full-time students. That benefit is available up to 10 years after discharge.

        Reserve and Guard troops can earn 60 percent of that, or about $22,000, if they are mobilized for 15 months - the average length of deployment - and then go to school full time. However, they can collect only if they remain in a Guard or Reserve unit. If they go into the inactive Reserve - also known as the Individual Ready Reserve - as Rowe did, or are discharged, they no longer are eligible for education benefits.

        ”Right now, it’s a double standard. They are treating these reservists like second-class citizens,” Norton said. U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said Marine reservists in his congressional district who were deployed after 9/11 alerted him to the disparity in benefits.

        ”When I heard about it, I didn’t think it was right,” Matheson said.

        Last year, he co-sponsored with Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) legislation that would enable Guard and Reserve troops who have accrued 24 months of active service within the last five years to be eligible for 100 percent of GI Bill education benefits.

        Some unofficial cost estimates of the Total Force Montgomery GI Bill run as high as $4.5 billion for the first 10 years, although the Congressional Budget Office has yet to weigh in with more detailed figures.

        Despite its cost, which could become a key obstacle in Congress, the bill now has 140 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, including Georgia Democrats John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, John Lewis and David Scott and Republican Nathan Deal.

        ”This is truly a bipartisan issue because it’s about veterans,” Matheson said.

        The MOAA’s Norton said another measure in the works is an amendment offered by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) to the fiscal year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill.

        This amendment would enable Guard and Reserve members mobilized for active duty to use their GI Bill education benefits after they leave military service.

        Hall, the assistant secretary of defense who also is a retired rear admiral, told members of Congress that such a change could affect troop retention.

        ”The fact that a member must continue to serve in the Reserves to maintain eligibility has greatly assisted the Reserve components as a whole in maintaining consistently high retention rates over the years and has increased the education level of our Reserve forces,” he said.

        But Norton contends that the Defense Department’s own survey data show education is not a major factor in an individual’s decision to re-enlist or extend in the Guard or Reserves.

        Rowe said education benefits he thought he would receive as a reservist were only part of his decision to enlist in 1996, when he was 17 and still a high school junior in his hometown of Summerville.

        ”My father instilled a true sense of patriotism in me, and I wanted to do something for the country,” Rowe said.

        His father, Tim, had served in the Air Force and used his GI Bill benefits to obtain an education degree and become a teacher.

        Rowe went to basic training between his junior and senior years in high school and then was assigned to a unit - first in Chattanooga, and later in Atlanta - as an information systems specialist. He served nearly six years in the active Reserve force before transferring to the Individual Ready Reserve.

        In April 2003 he was recalled to active duty and sent to Afghanistan, giving up his civilian job as a project manager for a telecommunications company.

        ”All I wanted to do when I came home was get another job and go back to school. But then when I applied I found out I couldn’t use the GI Bill so I had to reconsider things,” he said.

        Rowe now works for Covista Communications out of Chattanooga and said that the issue for him is not so much the money as the principle.

        ”I don’t think there’s anything that will be done to help me now, but I think it’s something that definitely needs to be done for soldiers in the future,” he said.

        ——-

        Ron Martz writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  11. By L. Long on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    LJ:

      No arguement there.  To quote anotherpost/thread, “That’s messed up”

    I remember the 70’s and 80’s.  I remember getting spit on in Philly airport. I remember the downsizing of the force post Vietnam. The shortages, the happyness in qualifying for foodstamps right before I PCSd to Germany, where there was no such thing. I remember it all, same as you. 

    More than anything else, the potential for ‘thanks, don’t let the door hit you in the ass’ at the demob site worries me most.  Not so much for me, but for those that will need to take over after I’m gone. 

    They served, they deserve.
     

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