The Deployment Diary

Friday, April 22, 2005

Causes You May Want to Support

I received an email from my friend with connections the other day with a cause I thought may interest others with loved ones in the military. Honestly, when I first read it, I thought it was most likely an urban legend lol. To my pleasant surprise, it's real :).

H.R. 887 - Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2005:
The Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2005 - Directs the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the Secretary of Defense to provide a program under which postal benefits are made available for personal correspondence and other mail matter sent from within the United States by designated representatives (next-of-kin) to members of the Armed Forces who are: (1) serving on active duty abroad in support of military operations or against an enemy of the United States or other hostile force; or (2) hospitalized in a U.S. military facility as a result of disease or injury incurred during service overseas. Limits postal benefits to $150 per calendar quarter, and limits the size and weight of allowable parcels. Allows charitable organizations to apply for such benefits.


You can visit The National Association for Uniformed Services website to easily locate your elected officials by entering your zip code. This site provides information about legislation that concerns the military. Not only do they provide information about military legislation and an easy way to contact your elected officials about it, they also provide a Guide to the Media. With this guide, you can search for national and local media via your zip code. You can search for Editors, Reporters & Producers by entering the person's last name. Last, but certainly not least, you can search for media organizations (radio, TV and print) by searching the organization's name. A helpful (and time saving) site to say the very least! Definitely a site I'll be adding to the list of links on the right.

Be sure to pass this "cause" on and write your elected folks in Washington to let them know you support it! When our loved ones are deployed, we spend an awful lot of money sending packages not only to our own soldier, but most of us also mail packages loaded with goodies for their co-workers too. Like everyone else, the money spent was well worth it. Reducing some of the costs would be extremely helpful though - especially for our National Guard and Reserve families who may be struggling due to large decreases in pay when they are activated.

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Another cause that may interest you. If it does, let your elected officials know!

Extended Careers

Earlier this month, my husband and I were talking about our plans for the future. After his realization of how close he came to retiring and the amount of denial he was swimming in saying he was ready to retire lol - our "plans" are really just wishes lol. For instance, wishing we could possibly head south after he finishes his two years in this job and it's time for us to relocate. In reality, we know we'll most likely end up in a place we have no interest in going lol - like Fort Hood or Fort Drum. I'm sure these installations are places many people love and there are positives to both. However, by the time we leave here, due to the Army forcing folks out at a certain amount of years served based on rank, this next move will be our last move. And, just like we had planned that our current duty station would be "the retirement duty station," this next move will have to be - and we'd really like to go someplace we would be comfortable calling home for the rest of our lives.

This conversation evolved into the discussion on rank and the amount of years a soldier can serve before being forced to retire. Such as, a SFC (E-7) only being able to serve 24 years and a 1SG/MSG (E-8) can only serve 26 years.

sidenote: This site says a SFC/E-7 not on the promotion list can only serve 22 years. I thought that had changed a few years ago.

sidenote II: Maybe the above site just hasn't updated their info. This site (scroll down to Retention Control Points) says 24 years...

At any rate, while we talked about the years he had left in the Army he said, "Honestly, I'd stay in a lot longer if they'd let me. I dread the day I have to retire and can no longer do this job."

I dread the day he has to retire too. I just don't think he'll ever find anything he loves doing as much as he loves his job - and I worry that he'll be completely miserable being a civilian.

Of course, this conversation got me to thinking (I know, a dangerous concept lol). Why DO we force out our best and most experienced soldiers while they are still in the prime of their lives? It makes no sense and I imagine the justification is, "We do this because it's the way it's always been done."

So, I got on the computer and sent a letter to one of my Senators on the 5th of this month. I won't quote the entire thing, but here's a small portion:
As our nation faces problems with recruitment and retention, our valuable NCOs, the backbone of the Army, are being forced out. Fifty or more years ago, 45 years old may have been "too old" to continue to serve, but in this day and age, this is just not the case.

I respectfully ask that you look into the years of service our senior NCOs can serve.

[.....]

It is a shame that our nation, at a time of war, is forcing out our highly skilled and trained NCOs due to an out of date system.


Three days later, I received a reply from his office. The first paragraph pertained to my letter:
Dear Friend:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding retirement age of our men and women serving in the Armed Forces. You may be assured of my interest in this matter, and I appreciate your taking the time to express your views to me. Please be assured that I will give this issue my most careful consideration, keeping your particular comments in mind.

The three paragraphs following this one were your typical *form letter taking up space* paragraphs lol, so I'll spare you.

As if I was on to something here lol (even if my Senator's staff didn't particularly think so lol), about a week later I was making my daily news rounds, skimming the headlines on Military.com. To my surprise, I came across an article on this very subject! And the name of the person who happens to agree and would like to see the RCP (Retention Control Points) of an out of date system changed? Why, none other than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld! I felt just a tad bit validated after reading the article lol!

Rumsfeld Supports Extended Careers
WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he would like to see sweeping changes to the military services' personnel systems.

In particular, Secretary Rumsfeld said, he would like to do away with the system that forces servicemembers out at the prime of their careers and moves people between jobs too quickly.


The system that moves people up then out when they are "at the peak of their capabilities" does the country "a big disservice," the secretary said.

Secretary Rumsfeld said he is frequently frustrated to see top-notch servicemembers, many just 38 or 40 years old, forced to leave the military -- taking with them extensive experience they could share with others.

"Why would we do that?" he said. "Why wouldn't we want that person around, and the confidence and knowledge and experience" the individual brings to the table?

Yet, despite widespread recognition of what such servicemembers are still capable of contributing, Secretary Rumsfeld said the personnel system "just keeps shoving them up and out."

This just does not make sense, particularly at a time when people "live longer and are healthier longer," Secretary Rumsfeld said.

Secretary Rumsfeld acknowledged that not everyone wants to extend their military careers, but he said those who do "should not be penalized or prevented from doing that."


Exactly Secretary Rumsfeld!! My husband will only be 43 when he's forced out and it's a shame that the Army will lose a great soldier due to an out of date and senseless policy. We are paying a high price for forcing out our most experienced soldiers - especially while our nation is at war.

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