Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kleos or Nostos

Can I have my $15,000 now? Can the people getting boned on their GI Bill payments get paid? Can the people getting fucked out of their VA health care get treatment and get paid? No? What's this you say though? There's a sale at the furniture store and Applebee's has free dinner! Let's call it even then.

It's amazing how many "friends" crawled out of the woodwork today to go to dinner at Applebee's or Texas Roadhouse. Hanging out with a vet is only worth it if free chicken fingers are involved, I guess. Welp, since I'm an uneducated low-income retard I better get off the magic internet box and get back to pulling myself up by my boot straps.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mid-terms have come and gone. Through no extraordinary effort of my own (nor a single extra minute spent outside of the lecture hall), I did well. The grade sheets posted outside the classrooms show that some people have managed to score as low as 2% on some tests. It seems statistically impossible, even by guessing all C's. Getting over 100% on my anatomy and physiology practicals felt amazing because it really affirmed that I am good with medicine and medical-like things.

Had my first VA appointment since coming home last week and got a lot of things done. Had an MRI on my knees, got some medicine to sleep better with, some medicine for knee pain, and scheduled follow-ons with psychology, physical therapy, ophthalmology, audiology, and orthopedics.

I try not to watch or read the news much, especially about health care and Afghanistan. The indecision by the leadership of this country depresses me greatly and puts me in a mood I try not to be in these days.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


"In the battle for Combat Outpost Keating, the men of Bravo Troop 361 Cavalry
lost every possession they had, save for the clothes on their backs. Following this blog posting is information on how to donate to the Combat Outpost Keating Relief Fund. These men havelost friends, their outpost, and all their belongings. One soldier who made it out wrote that "most people back home dont even know, no one gives a shit". Well, many of us do. And you can prove it by giving whatever you can. These guys need things like running shoes, and other essentials, as well as some comfort items like iPods and DVD players. The American Legion has kicked in $1000 to start the fund, ANY amount you can give, no matter how small will help us prove that we care."

Forward Unto Dawn

COP Keating: Is this what it's come to? Are we so strapped for men that 50 dudes with a bunker and some constantino wire at the bottom of a valley is considered a provincial strongpoint? Did we not learn from Wanat, 13 months previous and 20 miles down the fucking road, where 49 dudes were attacked by the same amount of Taliban and also forced to abandon their COP? How many times are we going to let this happen?

The worst part is that almost no other American knows about this. The volunteer drive by the American Legion and Tankerbabe to get those guys clothes and laptops and stuff was simply amazing. However, it only represents a handful of dedicated countrymen.

I sit in algebra with 40 other people. When we are given time to work on homework in class, I sit with the two Saudi guys in the class. We speak Arabic together. I feel more in common with these brown, bearded men then I do my own kinsmen. When the TA asks if we've seen such and such equation before, they shout out "Yes, in middle school!" The majority of the class has no idea what is going on. The Saudis tell me they loved our presence along their border and they were so happy to see us protect them in the first Gulf War. Everyone else in the class leers at us. I wonder how many of them could find Saudi Arabia on the map, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Nuristan province. Where is Kabul? Kandahar? Bagram? Mazari Sharif? How many of them can find America on a map of the world? I remember 12th grade geography where some people couldn't find our state on a map of America. Some couldn't find America on a map of America. You don't know where the fuck you are on a map, congratulations. Good luck in college, you've made it. The TA goes over an example problem. Four or five kids don't understand how she got 36 from 4 times 9. The Saudi guys laugh out loud. I hang my head.

I wanted to go on a great adventure, to prove myself, to serve my country. I wanted to do something so hard that no one could ever talk shit to me. In Athens or Sparta, my decision would have been easy. I felt as if I had been born too late. There was no longer a place in the world for a young man who wanted to wear armor and slay dragons.
-Nate Fick: 2 PLT CO, Company Bravo, 1st Marine RECON, OIF I (2003)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Are you sure?

Welp, the first of the month came and went. Certification for 1606/1607 takes place at the end of each month of school, theoretically. Realistically, not only is my GI bill not upgraded, I'm not even in the system now. When I log onto the website to submit my certification, there's no option to certify at all. Whatever. Maybe by the time I have college-age kids of my own, the system will work and they can use my GI Bill since I can't. The VA rep from school sends out e-mails every week that start with "Sorry everyone" and end with "I have no idea when anyone will get paid."

Speaking of college, I'm not sure what happened to American teenagers while I was gone, but these kids are depressingly stupid. A guy in my philosophy class interrupted our presentation on universal health care to tell us that he would be disgusted if he had to wait in line to see a doctor alongside disabled veterans or people that made less money than him, or no money at all. My sociology professor took a vote on whether or not to hold class on fridays (a M-W-F class) and now instead of class, we have to submit 300 word opinions on the class message board about topics that the professor wants us to discuss. These opinions are public, but not personal, and anyone can view them. We have until Friday evening to post them, and logging in this morning, I see that half the class posted them late. I'm sure some will be posted tomorrow, or the next day, and they will be counted because when a vast majority of the class is mediocre, you can't fail everyone. Let's look at some, shall we? The topic for this week was to discuss the statuses you hold in society, such as being a male doctor of Norwegian descent. Keep in mind the minimum is 300 words and right on top it says to type your responses in Microsoft Word first to spell check and word count. Here we go:

Face book is a website that everyone gets on and that is something that I make sure I check every day as soon as I get on a computer I type in face book right before I do whatever else there was I had to do. Also on face book there is a status bored where people put down what they have did today or what they have to do or how they feel about something. But face book is known for people statuses. That is like the most important part on face book besides the pictures that people upload on there. Most people have like three statuses a day posted on face book but it be some interesting stuff on people statues. My roles that I take part in this statues is to it make sure I go post me a new statues up on face book and to make sure I look at other people statutes.

158 words of academic diarrhea in no way related to the question. I'm not sure how discuss your societal status means talk about the status option on Facebook.

With my mother and step-father my statuses was to study hard and get good grades. It was hard to do what they expected me to do. Till this very day it is the same but i do it! Now my roles are to go to class, study hard and get good grades. Also keep in touch with my parents, and continue to talk to my family. After all through high school, the different statuses of my parents it made me the person I am today.

85 words. Random. periods. are. random.

Some might call me OCD, but anyone can easily see I get my organizational skills from my mother. The status symbol that goes along with that, would be how everyting I own, in my room or car, is organized in a certain way. Along with this status there is a role. The role being that if someone uses my belongings or property and doesn't put it back in the certain spot i had it in, I freak out on them

80 words.

Peers? Not to me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Online GI Bill advance payments? Now we're talking!

It's almost like it's actually supposed to be! Go online and get your GI Bill money. Who woulda thunk it?!

Well played Secretary, well played. We'll call this a wash in exchange for the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. You still owe us for the fucking black beret though. If you can get it so that we can substitute the black/green fleece beanie with any required wearing of the black beret, we'll be in business.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another day, another dollar...

Especially with emergency checks being released! Hurray!

Just kidding. What a stupid fucking idea. Let's suck some government cock for doing their job two months late. This is like thanking the garbage man for picking up your trash after it's already decomposed in your drive-way. Is this what it's come to? Doing shit two months late and fucking over tens of thousands of people is considered the pinnacle of government success? How is this even supposed to work? Transportation issues have already been mentioned, as Jonn at TAH mentioned that the closest center to some colleges is as much as four hours away. My issue is, how is a college student supposed to get to the regional benefit center? This assumes every student goes to class in the evening. I have class from 0800-1600 M-F and the hours for the closest benefit center are 0800-1630 M-F; I'd never be able to get to the center anyways. I'd have to cut class to get down there, which is bona fide retarded. Mess my grades up to get money to pay for school. What kind of pollack shit is that? How about: sorry everyone, we know we boned you guys on paying you two months late and some of you are now dropping out of school, we'll get these checks direct deposited to you ASAP.

I expect nothing less than total failure from the guy that brought us common folk the Black Beret. Thanks for the debt and the gay hat, sir. Keep on fail...rocking.

On a sidenote; still no bonus or backpay. Only a few more months until the 3 year mark. We can do it! I should make a t-shirt or something.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just medals and scars / And I brought home that flag / Now it gathers dust / But it's the flag that I love / It's the only flag I trust //

So yep, if you've heard that I was silenced you heard correctly. I was told to stop posting about our deployment, (basically, the easiest way to not get in trouble for posting about our deployment is to stop posting about our deployment) but all the people I talked about are no longer in the company so I think it's safe to speak my mind about a few things:

1) My pay problem persists. Passed the 2 year mark of absolutely no money for drills/ATs and am now about 5 months away from the 3 year mark. Had the CO, 1SG and PSG really fired up about getting it fixed, then they all got promoted or otherwise left the company. My entire chain of command from team level all the way up to company commander is now different and I have to start over at square 1. As far as I'm concerned, I stepped into a time machine to 2.5 years ago. People have suggested involving senators or higher or getting a lawyer. I'm not too sure how suing the Army would work and I'm not at all comfortable with doing that. I consider myself pretty easy going and would really just like to stop paying my own way to come to drill. No drill pay every month means no pay from no drill and no pay from my civilian job. Ideally, gas and food on thurs/sun nights is reimbursed when I get my drill pay, except I haven't gotten it in 2.5 years. I also used to drive 600 miles round trip to drill for all of 2007. After bleeding out about $200 a month for a year, it became more cost effective to transfer schools and move closer to the armory. Again, if I was getting drill pay, it wouldn't be an issue at all.

For MUTA 7's (thurs night-sun night), this equates to 5 days of missed work. I work 3rd shift and have class right after all morning so Weds night is a no go unless I want to stagger into drill on 24+ hours with no sleep which I'm pretty sure is against an AR or three. No work thurs/fri/sat night obviously and we usually don't get out in time on sundays for me to get home and clean up for work. This is also two days of missed classes/extra homework/extra schedule juggling to make any up quizzes or exams (sometimes resulting in even more missed work) and overall makes it impossible for me to make rent for the next month. Rent goes on a credit card that is slowly building it's way to the destruction of my credit and if this continues for too longer, declaration of bankruptcy. Some of you are saying: Joe, where's your GI Bill cash? This leads to...

2) VA Education. The post 9/11 GI Bill is fantastic if you are coming off Active Duty or have been a reservist long enough to earn 36 months of active duty time through deployments or other activations. For me, I only have 18 months of active duty time and the REAP (CH. 1607) is more money for me. If I could get it. Previously, I had CH 1606 which is the non-combat veteran GI Bill that was right around $500 with my kicker ($506 exactly if I'm not mistaken). With 12+ months of deployment time, I became eligible for the 1607 benefits which is about $800 with my kicker. To get this, you simply (SIMPLY) re-apply for GI Bill benefits through the VA for the CH. 1607. You relinquish your 1606 benefits and receive 1607 benefits, supposedly.

I say supposedly because I applied the day after we got back stateside for de-mob. I received a letter about three months later telling me I would be getting 1606 benefits. I re-applied again. I heard nothing for 5 more months. I got a letter telling me I would be getting 1606 benefits deposited in a bank account that was not mine. I called the VA number on the letter for issues and waited on hold for 39 minutes. The dude on the phone told me that I needed to apply for 1607 benefits on the website. A frustrated sigh and then I try to tell him that the GI Bill money will be going into a bank account that isn't mine. He asks me for my new information. Again, I insist that this isn't new information, it is MY information, as the # on this letter isn't my bank account number. He takes my SSN, name, new bank account information, and then asks me to verify the bank account number and routing number. I tell him this is impossible because this isn't my bank account, it's a bunch of asterisks and the last 4 of a bank account number that I don't know. He asks if I need time to find the information in my files. Privately, I wonder if this guy is a fucking retard or something. Possibly some sort of robot programmed to treat anyone that calls like an asshole until they hang up or maybe even just a brick wall. He gives me 30 seconds; literally, he says he has to terminate the call in 30 seconds to help other veterans if I cannot find the information. I tell him I guess I'll have to call back. I wait on hold for 39 minutes and spend less than one minute talking to this guy, and solve neither issue. 5 minutes later, I had updated all this information on the GI Bill website with no verification needed at all. The VA rep at my school had some "bypass all the stupid assholes and red tape" button on his fax machine that got my GI Bill upgraded in under one minute, hopefully. Attendance verification is at the end of the month so we'll see then. I'll assume I'll be stuck with my pockets turned inside out like all the folks that took a crap shoot on the post 9/11 GI Bill and got boned.

3) VA Healthcare. You know, when I first started watching the universal healthcare debates and town hall forums, I thought, there's no fucking way America is 37th in healthcare. Then I met the VA Healthcare system. Holy fuck. When we de-mob'd, the VA met us and registered us in their NATIONWIDE system, and gave us our ID cards. In January, about 30 days after we had got back stateside, some lady gave me a PTSD screening over the phone and scheduled me to come in in March. When I got to the hospital in March, I was told I need to register before I can expect care. I show my ID and say I was registered at de-mob. I'm told my ID is old and they don't use that; I have to start all over. I sit and fill out paperwork for hours while the guy tells me all the ways I can scam the system for a disability check. I'm fairly certain there's enough shit wrong with me to get a check if I push hard enough, but I just nod and smile with the guy.

I see a doctor, who is just going to "screen" me for what's wrong with me. I have my LOD (line of duty injuries) sheet from the Army docs that show I need treatment for my knees, hearing, and depression. The doctor asks what I want from the VA more or less, and I tell him I just want treatment for all the stuff on my LOD forms. My knees kill me, I'm deaf as a motherfucker and I'm not adjusting to stateside living as well as I'd like. He tells me I'm overweight and that I'm a heavy drinker (I write on one of the forms that I drink 2-3 drinks 2-3 nights a week) and makes me an appointment in July. Remember, this is in March. In April, we get our full drill schedule and I see that my appointment is during annual training. I call and ask to reschedule sooner and am told that it's still 3 months away and to call back later if it looks like I still can't make it. The drill schedule is 99.9% set in stone and is given 6 months - 1 year in advance. I call in June and let them know I still can't make it, they reschedule me for a September date. I'm pretty pissed at this point and switch to another VA hospital that is further away but in a better city so I assume it will be staffed with better people. Wrong.

Arriving at the new VA hospital, I am forced to register again as the information from the NATIONWIDE system doesn't carry over. I am then given an appointment for September here also. Nothing is available sooner. This date was last week and was canceled. I am sent a letter with some code that I assume means I will get another appointment right away. Nope. Soonest appointment is in late October. I try to stress to the guy at the other end of the phone that I haven't seen a doctor since I've been back from Iraq and I've been back 9 months now. This is still the next available appointment. I don't know how bad my depression is because I keep pretty busy but it's always there. Trying not to think about it is about the best thing I can do. My knees are terrible. I used to be able to squat 500lbs, leg press 1000lbs and calf raise around 1500lbs. Putting 100lbs on the leg press the other day made my knees pop and hurt so bad I had to stop so I wouldn't throw up and then I had to leave the gym because I was on the verge of tears. My hearing is bad and during AT this year, something happened with my ears and I developed some mild vertigo and my hearing got even worse. The PA at the clinic on post looked at my hearing sheet with a shocked look on his face and a "wow." His treatment plan was to take it easy and go to the VA to get treated. Easier said then done, sir!

TLDR: No pay. No education benefits. No health benefits. News at 11.

Feels really good to get all those gripes out.