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.