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October 27, 2016

Bonus Pay Not on the Menu

Harry M. Covert

If stupid things are enacted in other states and commonwealths, they can surely occur everywhere else. Surprised? Don't be. This is a never ending battle.


We need a pause today from all the political discourses, locally and otherwise. The story goes that National Guardsmen in California had received bonus pay for re-enlisting for their tours of duty in Iraq a decade ago.


Despite facing warfare, real bullets and bombs, 100-plus degrees Fahrenheit, in harm's way, some Pentagon bureaucrats, without apparent regard for the GI's, decided to rescind their bonuses. Cutting through the red tape and meanness to the soldiers, they didn't care a bit about the terrible effects on them. Did they care how the soldiers could possibly repay them? Obviously the pencil pushers didn't give it a second thought as to ruining lives. Despicable.


To go along with this missive and to localize a bit, some Maryland National Guardsmen were recently activated for service. Where? Yes, Iraq, that haven of war. I don't know if bonuses were given or offered, but these troops weren't given nice vacations. And a soldier did die in Mosul a few days ago.


It is maddening that the Pentagon and the Congress are so out touch with the nation's military men and women that they let such things happen.


I did hear Mr. Ash Carter, the secretary of defense, put a halt to the terrible situation yesterday. News accounts, and I believe them, reported that members of Congress knew about this mess and did nothing to stop it. Military vets are not on the dole.


I'd like to know who the jerks were who decided to demand bonus paybacks. The soldiers were getting calls from debt collectors and other delightful professionals. Some of these veterans were forced to remortgage their homes.


Locally, there are many veterans, many injured in war and lots suffering from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. The above situations aren't like the movies and television episodes. Glamour? No way. Real life.


The bureaucrats, those in the Department of Veterans Affairs, need some correction – and now.


Perhaps it's more than time to require visits to military hospitals around to see the physical results of war. There are public figures who think it's cute not to stand for The Star Spangled Banner.


These people have never walked on land mines, or faced an enemy with a bayonet or gases. They've never lost limbs or eyes. They aren’t familiar with evil or degradation.


I wonder how many have ever visited emotionally unstable soldiers, sailors and airmen, or seen the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington. Probably more fun acting ignorantly in public.


Let's not talk about lack of funds in the federal coffers. The feds at all levels always poor mouth while the treasury is unlimited, filled beyond measure. What’s a billion dollars here or there?


It's aggravating to learn of all the scams perpetrated in all of the agencies. There are so many.


Delays caused by federal workers are too numerous. Even if Congress men and women get involved in various cases, paperwork, and computer files, are pushed aside only to be accidentally discovered.


It is astonishing that citizens aren't mad as hades at the total insensitivity to veterans.


In this latest disgrace, veteran groups raised the most ruckuses. Thankfully. It's necessary to straighten out the wrongs. So, now, everybody can write fund-raising letters about their good works!


I'd like to know if someone in the White House picked up the phone and ordered the halt to bonus paybacks with interest. If they didn’t, they should have, at least out of conscience if not good governance.


Who has the thumb on the troubles? Please advise when the answer arrives.


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