Conflicted

The Washington Post again this week carried a story about the Pentagon wanting to raise Tricare fees.  Currently, military retirees pay $460/year for family coverage; cost varies, of course, by status and family structure.  Compared to most civilian insurance plans, the amount is trivial.

One side of the issue is that my spouse and I spent a total of over 44 years working toward that benefit.  It was authorized as an incentive for the military to in some way make up for the months and years of working for low pay, for being on call at a moment’s notice to head toward base and play wargames or to put your life on the line in real war.  Some of use had it easier than others; most today don’t wonder if they’ll be called to a warzone, but when.

I distinctly recall my recruiter telling me that if I stayed for 20, there would be medical care for me and my family — space available.  Little did I dream, at the time, of space not being available.  Others don’t recall hearing the “space available”.  I don’t recall hearing “free”, but it was certainly presented as a benefit, not an option available for purchase.

The other side of the issue is that my 22 years in the Air Force gave me skills that could be parlayed into a comfortable income.  I came through those 22 years nearly untouched by the hardship and horror seen by some.  Both my husband I spent some time away from the family, but not the 300+ days per year that many do.  We did not serve in active war zones, but that too was a luck-of-the-draw item due to the time we were in service and the work we did.  So, could I be expected to pay for my health care?  Perhaps.  Looking from this perspective, I can support a needs-based schedule.

Then I look again.

First, I don’t trust our government bureaucracy to devise a realistic needs-based schedule.

Nor do I trust many GIs and former GIs not to attempt to circumvent it in any way possible; many were successful in their careers because of what they could get away with within the letter or intent of the law/regulation.

Then I think about the time I did spend away from the family, and that my spouse did.  And I think of those serving now, and the difficulties they and their families face, and ask whether our nation owes us for keeping our promises; whether or not we were called in time of war, we were there and ready.

I guess it comes down to what price we as a nation are willing to pay to maintain a military that is ready in all instances.  Are we willing to mortgage our future for the military of a size that may overwhelm our ability to pay for it, both in terms of current hardware and training and in future costs?

I’m willing to pay more for the level of care I receive now.  I don’t have a lot of faith that the level will remain as high as it is, given the needs of caring for those harmed by service in war zones.

So I’m still conflicted.   I see both sides, and don’t know where the “right” solution may be.

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Air Force LOVES its airmen.

We’re a high-tech air force.  So rather than continue the 60-year-old tradition of having your commander or first sergeant announce your promotion, you’ll now log on to a web site.  Ain’t that special.

The Air Force has devised a new uniform (again).  Dubbed the Airman Battle Uniform, it – get this – doesn’t have a jacket that zips from the bottom, only from the top.  How friendly is that to an airman who has to retrieve gear?  Or sit in a truck/office/ warehouse/whatever?  On top of that, an individual writes to Air Force Times:

I e-mailed the board, and their response was they couldn’t change the finalized design and if I didn’t like it, I should just wait until the ABUs become mandatory in 2011, rather than spend my money now.

Ain’t that special.  Nice response.

Add to this the possibility of being demoted, denied promotion, or discharged under a “non-punitive” physical system.

And the  idea that somehow a 1-5 numerical rating scale gives better fidelity than a 1-9 system.

I’m more and more thankful every day I left when I did.

Published in: on December 3, 2007 at 8:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Another “It’s not my fault”

Story

This time I reference a soldier, doing an honorable thing, for a wrong reason.

Soldiers are, as a group, honorable. In my opinion, almost as strong as Marines; I think the Air Force has a long way to go and I haven’t a strong opinion about the other uniformed services. That’s why this story bothers me.

For years I’ve been quietly but firmly stating an opinion that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are not our “kids”. Yes, each is someone’s child, but these are adults – people who have chosen their life path of their own will. A few days ago I ranted about parents who refuse to respect that role.

Then I look at the standard enlistment contract.  It’s here.  It states, page 2, very clearly what to expect.  If we are at war, or go to war while you’re in service, your enlistment may continue until six months after the end of hostilities. You can be called back.  This is a contract you sign, then you raise your right hand and swear an oath to the same.

Are people permitted to change their minds?  Of course they are.  And they don’t have to like it.  Nothing in this contract says you will like it.  It says you will do it.  Change your mind while you’re in?  No problem.  Work the system if you must, find a way to do something else within the military if you must (within the system), and leave when you can.  But while you’re there, live up to your end of the contract.

Is it a fair contract?  No.  But you knew that when you signed – it’s in just about as clear language as any government document I’ve ever seen.

So stand up for your buddies, Mr. Knappenberger.  But don’t do it in a uniform – you aren’t a representative of that uniform any more, since you chose to leave.  And don’t let them play “victim” either.  Each one of them signed the contract just as you did.

Don’t like the war.  I don’t blame you.  But as I said before, there’s nothing there that says you have to like it.

Be adults; live up to your obligations, then move on to other roles if you so choose.

Published in: on August 29, 2007 at 4:44 pm  Leave a Comment