Monday, June 26, 2006

Where To Start

My knickers are in such a knot over this story I can barely breathe. Actually I am so angry that I'm hyperventilating and my head is pounding as if a big bass drum had taken up residence between my ears. Which may explain the smoke.

If the military can find them to be notified of the death of their significant other, what the heck is the problem? When I was in the Army in 1974 I was home on leave on the 15th and I needed money. My parents lived outside of Vandenberg AFB so I went to Payroll and they processed my paperwork and PAID ME! The Air Force in 1974, way before computers were commonplace, paid an army enlisted the correct amount of pay. How do you suppose that happened? Maybe they knew what they were doing? There is no excuse for this, none at all.
Military Fails Some Widows Over Benefits - New York Times: "While the process runs smoothly for many widows, for others it is characterized by lost files, long delays, an avalanche of paperwork, misinformation and gaps in the patchwork of laws governing survivor benefits.

Sometimes it is simply the Pentagon's massive bureaucracy that poses the problem. In other cases, laws exclude widows whose husbands died too early in the war or were killed in training rather than in combat. The result is that scores of families — it is impossible to know how many — lose out on money and benefits that they expected to receive or believed they were owed, say widows, advocates and legislators.

'Why do we want to draw arbitrary and capricious lines that exclude widows?' asked Senator Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, who has sponsored legislation to close some of the legal loopholes that penalize widows. 'It seems to me we ought to err on the side of compassion for families.'
Ya think? I read this next part and really started twitching. How can you not know the soldier is in Iraq? Where did they think he was?
Nearly a year later, Mrs. Youngblood, 27, is still trying to persuade the Navy that the military's accounting department lost her husband's 2004 insurance form naming her and her son as co-beneficiaries, along with the rest of his pre-deployment paperwork. The only forms the Navy can find are from 2003, listing an old address for her husband, Travis, an incorrect rank and no dependents.

The military paperwork was in such disarray, Mrs. Youngblood said, that her husband went months without combat pay and family separation pay because the defense accounting service did not realize he was in Iraq, where he was detached to a Marine Corps unit.
How do you lose your own troops? Who's running this outfit? Billy Bob and his boy Darryl?
Hundreds of widows are denied thousands of dollars in benefits because of arbitrary cut-off dates in the law. The family of a soldier who was killed in October 2003 receives less money than the family of a soldier who was killed in October 2005. "It is shameful that the government and Congress do not deliver the survivor benefits equally to all our widows with the same compassion and precision the military presents the folded flag at the grave," said Edie Smith, a leader of the Gold Star Wives of America, a group of 10,000 military widows that lobbies Congress and the Pentagon.

Shauna Moore was tending to her newborn, Hannah, on Feb. 21, 2003, when she learned that her husband, Sgt. Benjamin Moore, 25, had been shot during a rifle training exercise at Fort Hood, Tex. Months later, after her grief began to subside, she noticed that she was not entitled to the same retirement benefits as more recent widows with children."
I think I'm going to have to get medication for this twitch. As the dependant of a retired Air Force Sergeant, the sister of a Navy Lt, and a Vietnam Veteran myself, let me say that I am angered and ashamed by this report. I find it hard to believe that my country would ask these people, and in many cases forced them, to give the ultimate sacrifice and we still can't compensate their families in a timely and adequate manner. Despicable.

We send these guys off to an illegal and immoral war which still doesn't have a satisfactory explanation, we don't adequately protect them, we can't tell them when they will be home for good, we can't take care of their families while they are off doing our dirty work and then we abandon the families as soon as their dead and the cameras are gone. Nice. Really nice.

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