Friday, October 05, 2007

$650 Billion Dollar Cheapskates

I'm opposed to the war in Iraq, and have been since March 2002. My preferred policy outcome is for a reasonably rapid drawdown of US forces within twelve months of making a decision to disengage and manage any spill-over crisis from outside of the country. I am also very frustrated at the Democratic Congress for their unwillingness to play harball. Despite all of this, I am disgusted at the DOD being cheapskates and screwing over people. The first story is about the Minnesota National Guard brigade that saw over a year and half in combat:
When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill...

Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

"Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month," Anderson said.
When half of the brigade which has the longest continuous stretch of combat deployment in the US Army has orders which screws them out of benefits by one day, it sure as hell screams a prima facie case of deliberate intent. An extra day demobilizing equipment, debriefing their experiences and writing up lessons learned for future reference would have been a reasonable end result. It would have been fair given what we as a country have asked them to do.

Phil Carter of the Intel Dump caught another cheapskate move by the DoD on the prevelance of 'pre-exisiting' condition discharges in the military.
Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq — as many as 10 a day — are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn't blaming the war. It says the soldiers had "pre-existing" conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government.

Many soldiers and Marines being discharged on this basis actually suffer from combat-related problems, experts say. But by classifying them as having a condition unrelated to the war, the Defense Department is able to quickly get rid of troops having trouble doing their work while also saving the expense of caring for them.

The result appears to be that many actually suffering from combat-related problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries don't get the help they need.
He goes on to argue that the prevelance of pre-exisiting mental health condition discharges are probably a combination of administrative ease, and an intermediate result of the demand for more bodies at the front which has fueled the massive dropping of recruit standards. People who would have been kindly encouraged by their recruiter five years ago to look for something else are being signed up and shipped out to boot camp in two weeks now. And this has been the case for a couple of years. Combine this with the new boot camp culture to get as many people through as possible and the removal of seperation authority from field trainers to high level staff, more people who are susceptible to mental health disorders are being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army screened these individuals and believed that they would be adequate soldiers after they passed boot camp and their individual advanced training. The Army was able to use these soldiers for the mission in Iraq, and now they're trying to dump the costs of treatment onto someone else. If there was a significant pre-exisisting mental condition, the individual should either never have been accepted into the Army, OR seperated before being combat deployed.

Cheap, cheap behaviors despite have half the world's military budget.

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