Thursday, December 10, 2009

Food for thought today

Stumbled accross this sentiment... and I found it compelling

Author Unknown

Sometimes people come into your life
and you know right away that they were meant to be there,
they serve some sort of purpose,
teach you a lesson
or help figure out who you are
and who you want to become.

You never know who these people may be:
your neighbor, child, long lost friend, lover, or even a complete
who, when you lock eyes with them,
you know at that very moment that they will affect your life
in some profound way.

And sometimes things happen to you
and at the time they seem painful and unfair,
but in reflection you realize
that without overcoming those obstacles
you would have never realized
your potential strength, will power, or heart.

Everything happens for a reason.
Nothing happens by chance
or by means of good or bad luck.
Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer
all occur to test the limits of your soul.

Without these small tests,
whether they be events, illnesses or relationships,
life would be like a smoothly paved straight flat road to nowhere,
safe and comfortable,
but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet who affect your life
and the successes and downfalls you experience
create who you are,
and even the bad experiences can be learned from,
In fact, they are probably the poignant and important ones.

If someone hurts you, betrays you or breaks your heart,
forgive them,
for they have helped you learn about trust
and the importance of being cautious to
whom you open your heart...

If someone loves you,
love them back unconditionally,
not only because they love you,
but because they are teaching you to love
and opening your heart and eyes to things
you would have never seen or felt without them.

Make every day count.
Appreciate every moment
and take from it everything that you possibly can,
for you may never be able to experience it again...

Talk to people you have never talked to before,
and actually listen,
let yourself fall in love,
break free and set your sights high...

Hold your head up because you have every right too.
Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself...
for if you don't believe in yourself,
no one else will believe in you either.

Create your own life
and then go out and live in it!
"Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last...
Tomorrow is Not Promised"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interesting Photos of Army Reserve

Ran across this interesting picture show from Time Magazine that covers the 100 Years of the Army Reserve. The 16 pictures provided are a very brief look into the history of the Reserves.

From my own perspective is the stuff inbetween the pictures… the years of less than adequate funding and few training resources that were somehow overcome in our nation’s moment of need to provide the Ready force we have today. There are lots of unsung Reserve soldiers that toiled for years in unappreciated efforts to get the Army Reserve to where it is today.

Here is the site – take a look – its worth the time

Also found at Time’s site is an interesting piece on how one town copes with PTSD… It’s a bit of a anti-war, crazed soldiers fluffery, but it does communicate the potential issues soldiers face and the trials their families endure. Also worth reading here

And to everyone of my readers (or the one reader)... have a happy Thanksgiving - heres hoping your chow is not a turkey menu MRE and you have pause to be thankful for something out there.

Monday, November 09, 2009

VA charging my insurance

I spent 24 years on Active and Reserve duty in the Army. After my tour in Iraq ended in Dec 2005, I decided to go to the VA to get checked out, after all I never recieved an exit physical from the Army upon my discharge (Honorable). Several attempts later and after restarting the process this past couple months I finally got the physical and blood work. You can read about my first attempt in earlier posts...

Imagine my suprise at recieving a notice from my Health Insurance that the VA charged the insurance (for which I must pay a deductable) for the physical. I was taken a bit by suprise. Yes indeed, the VA goes to my insurance carrier to get reimbursed for the blood work completed as part of my physical. According to the statement I recieved from my insurance carrier I will owe the VA $161 dollars for the tests.

The Veteran's Administration - what a great system.

I'm a little cloudy on what transpired...but, I guess that as a Reserve Soldier and a combat Veteran that I don't get health care or even the courtesy of a health screening after serving. I'm just a little bit discouraged at the system.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lt Watada - Officer that refused to go to Iraq

The Army is allowing the resignation of the first commissioned officer to be court-martialed for refusing to go to Iraq. The Associated press reports that officer, First Lt. Ehren Watada, will be granted a discharge on Oct. 2, “under other-than-honorable conditions,”

The Army attempted to court Marshal this officer for other charges related to his missing his unit’s deployment and with conduct unbecoming an officer for denouncing President George W. Bush and the war — statements he made while explaining his actions. The trial on conduct unbecoming ended in a mistrial.

Well, I'm glad this former Officer is now going to be discharged. I think the Army bungled the charges in an ill fated attempt to muzzle the officer when he was speaking his mind (as disagreeable as it was). Lt Watada will likely go on to write a book about his experience with the army that he truly was not suited to serve. I'm glad that the Army decided to just separate him and end his employment. Think of the bully pulpit that could have been reduced had the Army simply took action on the missing movement with a subsequent discharge.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I have been Delinquent

I haven’t written a post in a while dear readers, it has been actually pretty slow in the news department with regard to the Army Reserve community. I have often thought of branching out subject matter for this blog site… but that would not necessarily encourage more readers and would be a little dangerous if I discussed anything about my current position with the Army as a civilian employee.

That second piece is a token recognition of the fact that Army Civilian employees also lose the right of free speech to a degree as we must observe all the same PAO approval, message filtering, content approval if we want to express ourselves in the media in any way…. I’ve written about the Orwellian oversight of bloggers within the military before…little has really changed.

At any rate…I just turned 49 the other day… just 11 more years until I will be able to draw a retirement check for my 24 years of active and reserve service. There has been little movement in efforts to reduce the retirement age for those of us that answered the call to active service before 2008… with impending budget constraints; I doubt the momentum to consider such a reduction is very strong.

I received a counterpoint comment to my experience at the VA the other day. I do believe the VA is a great thing and apparently does serve many pretty well. I have been having issues with them and I can’t argue that I have a different perspective than many…but… I won’t just lie down and let certain personnel in that system run over people when they are in a position of public service… Thanks to songdoglady for widening my perspective.

On to other topics – if you have an interesting topic related to retired or Active Army Reserve status…send me a comment and I’ll try to take it on.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still messing with the VA

I continue my saga with the VA...I decided to involve my congressman Charlie Dent... I sent him this note in my attempt to get a physical completed...

Mr. Dent,

I am writing to you to ask your assistance.

I am a retired Army Reserve Soldier. I served in Iraq from Sep 2004 to August 2005. I retired from the Army Reserve in July 2006 after 24 years active and Reserve Service.

I recived no physical upon my departure from Iraq nor when I retired from the Army Reserve. Within the first year back I attempted to get a physical at the Veteran's Administration Clinic in Allentown, PA. During the course of my initial physical I was scheduled for a blood draw. During that appointment I was manhandles by a phlebotomist and shoved to the front desk for rescheduling of blood work. Embarrased, I did not return.

In January 2009 having a change of heart I requested assistance from the veteran's administration to start process once again. I inquired what I needed to do to the Veteran's administration's Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS). That request was forwarded to Philadelphia office in Feb 2009 without resolve.

It is now 4 years since my return and today I called the listed number for the Allentown Clinic. I was told today that I should wait for a letter from the Allentown Clinic with an appointment - scheduling would be done by them without input from me.

This brings up two issues for me:
1. I have never been able to address or express dis-satisfaction with the employee at the VA that caused the disruption to my health care to start. The VA has never responded to my inquiry via their system with assistance.
2. As a working individual, I must coordinate my schedule for appointments thus a mailed appointment letter is an inefficent vehicle to plan care

All that I'm seeking at this point is the opportunity to speak with someone at the VA to schedule the appropriate physical events.
Thanks in advance for whatever assistance you may provide,

We'll see if he can assist

'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

Monday, July 06, 2009

50 Years ago - first Vietnam Combat Casualties

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first two American combat casualties of the Vietnam War with a special ceremony and wreath laying at The Wall on Wednesday, July 8, beginning at 10:30 a.m., said Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Memorial Fund.

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Chester Ovnand and Maj. Dale Buis died on July 8, 1959, when their compound was attacked by North Vietnamese communists. Theirs are the first two names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, occupying panel 1E, Row 1, at the apex of The Wall.

Lest we forget

Here is the Link

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Unique Army Summer Hire

It’s that time of year again when the summer hire programs are in progress. Many aspiring students are given the opportunity to experience the workplace at Military Installations or organizations working temporartily as Army civilian employees. The Summer Hire program or more correctly Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) is a temporary employment program for student employment during the summer months.

Recently this program at my installation had a new first. For the first time a combat Veteran has been accepted into the program. A soldier serving as a Reserve Specialist with a local Army Reserve MP Battalion is currently working as a STEP employee with one organization's Human Capital Management Office.

For this soldier, the transition since high school has been a little different than many of her peers in the STEP Program. She graduated High School in June 2007. Following graduation she went through the Army’s basic training and advanced individual training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO as a military policeman. Upon completion of her training she returned to home in preparation to attend spring 2008 College courses. Those plans were changed in January 2008 when she was called up to deploy with her unit to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She trained with her Reserve unit at Ft Dix, deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and worked at Camp Cropper which is a high security detainment facility. Kim returned home in Dec 2008 and was finally able to start her College education in January 2009.

“Having experienced military deployment and living the soldier’s life immediately after high school was a real change to me”, the soldier said of her experience. “I’m excited about getting my education underway and participating in the STEP program will help me grow. “

The soldier recently was able to apply some of her unique experience to the Tactics, Weapons Employment Course (TWEC) conducted by her organization. She participated as an assistant instructor in several courses within the POI and contributed to student understanding of what being a soldier is all about. She notes that she has been working a number of other assignments within the Summer hire program that have challenged her capabilities, but have also given her new insight into the work done by Army Civilians.

That soldier is my daughter... I could tell you of the trials getting her into the program... unfortunately the Army does not yet have really effective means of offering internships to soldiers that are in her situation. In fact after her summer hire program is over she will go back to the ranks of un-employed... but it is a start.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MNSTC-I is 5 years old

To think I was there nearly at the beginning … today I read that MNSTC-I “Minsticky” is 5 years old. I arrived at MNSTC-I in September 2004 just months after the LTG Petraeus took over the reins of the training effort for Iraq’s Military and Police forces. It was a tall order then and remains just as difficult as new requirements are born from the agreements with the Iraqi National Leadership. The article from MNSTC-I.

PHOENIX BASE, BAGHDAD - Coalition forces and NATO training mission military personnel gathered to celebrate the 234th birthday of the U. S. Army, established in June 1775; and the fifth anniversary of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, established this month in 2004.

The Command also pinned a streamer to its flag representing award by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, of the Joint Meritorious Unit Award. The JMU was presented to MNSTC-I for "exceptionally meritorious achievement" from May 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008.

MNSTC-I is the direct outgrowth of the need to create a new Iraqi Army. Subordinate to Multi-National Force - Iraq, the Command is responsible for assisting the Government of Iraq in providing for Iraq's internal security and external defense through the development of competent security ministries and professional, self-sufficient security forces that adhere to the rule of law.

I wish to congratulate MNSTC-I on 5 years, but don’t wish them many more…I’d love to hear the news that the mission is complete and the command’s flags are cased. So far the command has raised to the challenge, lets hope they are shortly successful in their task.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Activities

I belong to an American Legion Post that has essentially abandoned its community role in participating in Memorial day activities in the local community…that is until this year. The post had not participated in services or marked the occasion of Memorial Day in at least 20 years that I’m aware of…leaving the void to be filled by other posts and veteran’s organizations in the area.

Fortunately, that changed this year and our post fielded its Legion Riders to the communities Memorial Day services with good effect.

During the Services I was fortunate enough to hear Captain Edward Smith provide a speech on the importance of Memorial Day and he tied it nicely to his personal experience in Iraq where he served with distinction with the Navy. His story tied in the human connection to the services when he visited the story of two soldiers caskets making the final journey.

I reflected that the services and Parade were well provided – not for the soldiers – nor their families – but for the young kids, community members and others so that they see the respect and reverence offered for our service member’s sacrifice. Hopefully our Legion will offer the lesson in subsequent years…I believe it’s valuable for our democracy to take the time to observe the tradition.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Armor Warfighter Conference

Just returned last week from the Armor Warfighter Conference. This conference is hosted each year at Ft. Knox for the Armor community to foster communication and educate on developments within the Heavy Force. It is always very informative and provides an opportunity to get updated on what is happening in my basic branch.

This year was a little quieter in terms of future plans with the FCS being recently de-tuned with regard to vehicle platforms. The future of the Armor force will include a varient of the M1 and M2 platforms well into the future. It was discussed that these platforms began development in the 70s and will likely still be part of the force into 2030 and beyond.

I guess that what we tankers knew when we recieved the M1 in the early 80s has proven itself. The M1 platform was an evolutionary step for the force. I'm sure the development of better systems to improve the M1 will be coming for some time.

Friday, May 01, 2009

FCS versus heavy force equipment

The big news in some Army circles is the decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to submit a budget that kills Army plans for the FCS program combat vehicles. Reading the news it looks like the Army has spent about $14 billion in research and development costs for the FCS vehicle fleet and, yes there is little in the way of actual vehicles to show for the effort. What we have seen and should have inherently known was that these vehicles were thinned skinned due to light force proponents setting requirements for FCS in the past.

The Army has been down this path before…a shift of priorities based upon the influence of a few …In the Army, there has been a gradual but decided push prior to OIF for a light force. M1s and Bradley’s where considered too heavy and hard to support for future conflicts…after all, the Army would need to quickly deploy to a hot spot and get out with minimum effort. Planning for vehicles and structures reflected this mindset.

Fast Forward to today… what we Tankers have been expressing in vain for years is now looking more like reality. We still need platforms that are reasonably durable in sustained operations, capable of protecting the crews inside and able to complete the mission. The M1 tank platform developed in the last Heavy Force era of the 70s remains the battlefield equipment in use 40 years later. (The B-52 Bomber comes to mind as a parallel piece of equipment with the Air Force)

I anticipate that the M1 in its several variants (M1IP, M1A1, M1A2 SEP &SA) will enjoy something of a renaissance…perhaps now the current force can get some development funding for long sought needs to further improve the platform we have until we sort out the force we want. I suggest some sort of crew compartment auxiliary power and air conditioning (heating and cooling) package. An electronics Fire Control package that is smaller (nano tech) and provides more capability. GPS, FBCB2 next generation, and improved comms gear should round out the vehicle nicely.

Gates' action reflects a bold initiative to take pause in designing weapons systems. He has shown a strong capability to challenge the failure to incorporate knowledge about improvised explosive devices — which have accounted for at least half of troop deaths in Iraq and are a growing menace in Afghanistan. I wish his efforts success for future programs.

Friday, April 17, 2009

DHS Assessment on Veterans

There is a slight furor from several Veterans and Right Wing groups over the recent Department of Homeland Security assessment which was sent to law enforcement on extremists. The federal Homeland Security Department document entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Environment Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” contains such targets as veterans, folks anticipating additional restrictions to their Second Amendment rights, and those concerned about the loss of U.S. sovereignty.

This report implies that one harboring passionate opinions on these topics may be a potential terrorism suspect. Some of the comments and gist of what is being said on the right

The agency’s intelligence assessment, sent to law enforcement officials last week, warns that right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the U.S. economy and the election of the country’s first black president to recruit members.

The assessment also said that returning military veterans who have difficulties assimilating back into their home communities could be susceptible to extremist recruiters or might engage in lone acts of violence.

In looking through the report highlights I’d have to say the assessment kind of unfairly characterizes military veterans as right-wing extremists. I am conservative, but not an extremist (at least I don’t think so) BUT it also renders an assessment of other potential threats in its own clumsy manner. To me, the report reflects poorly on the agency. The fact that it is out reflects a security concern. It does not bode well for the effectiveness of this agency run by Janet Napolitano.

Napolitano defended the assessment and others issued by the agency.

“Let me be very clear — we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States,” Napolitano said in a statement. “We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.”

Well, Janet – if by some really freaky chance your reading this blog as part of your agencies monitoring effort…I want the 2nd amendment preserved and I am watching my government. I’m a proud veteran that has not forgotten my vow to defend the country despite the fact that I may be watched as a potential radical by that same government.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reserve retirement age reduction pending again

Army Times provides information on the renewed attempt by Congress to lower the Reserve Retirement age for Mobilized soldiers this week.

On the table: Early reservist retirement pay

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 23, 2009 17:34:54 EDT

Retirement benefits for National Guard and reserve members, especially those mobilized for extended periods since Sept. 11, 2001, will be part of the focus of a Tuesday hearing when members of the Senate Armed Services Committee review reserve personnel issues.
Drawing attention will be House and Senate bills that would expand on a 2008 law by making retroactive a formula that allows a Guard or reserve member to receive a military retirement check 90 days earlier for every 90 days of active-duty service.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is the chief sponsor of the Senate bill, S 644. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., is the chief sponsor of the House bill, HR 208.

This effort should be supported…it reflects a consideration for the increased reliance and sacrifice of reserve soldiers since the Global War on Terror (now called Overseas Contingency Operation by our current administration) began. The bill in its current form would make it possible for an earlier retirement pay date for Retired Reserve soldiers that have been mobilized since September 11th, 2001.

This is a reasonable accommodation for Reserve component soldiers that have sacrificed along side active component soldiers. The incentive in this is to offer Reserve soldiers something for the time away from civilian jobs, families, and pursuits. It has no immediate equal program for Active duty soldiers it is true, however Active component soldiers receive full retirement and Medical starting the day they retire rather than Grey area benefits given to Reserve Soldiers.

Grey Area Benefits are few…ability to shop at PX/Commissary, use Military facilities for Reserve Soldiers that are often no where near such facilities. No pay, medical benefits are provided.

I urge Reserve Soldiers past and present to drop a note to your Senators and Representative and ask them to support this bill. This effort is still being fought by the Pentagon (composed of Active Duty Soldiers) and we need to overcome that resistance.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Army’s efforts to prevent suicide

Recently in my civilian job I have seen the Army’s Suicide prevention training effort. This effort has been directed by the Secretary of the Army as a first phase of a campaign to reduce the number of suicides within the Army community.

As is my usual custom I offer some observations;

1. The training is good. For a change the training has decent production values and presents well to the audience. Although the training is centered to soldiers, the lessons translate effectively to civilians.

2. The issue of suicide prevention has always been of concern to Army Leadership. The matter of the reasons and causes of suicide are not clear to anyone…many under care of the expert’s still commit suicide reflecting our not complete understanding of the problem.

3. There are resources out there that are not performing screening, mental health service proactively to returning soldiers. In addition, soldiers that separate, retire after combat service are stuck with a dysfunctional and understaffed VA process. Those former soldiers are not counted in the statistics that are the catalyst for this effort by the Army.

Suicide prevention is being taken seriously by the Army. Now if treatment and support services by the VA could catch up.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Army Reserve Blogspot

Just discovered My Army Reserve Blog

This site provides Reserve Soldiers some inside information on the Partnering Effort the Army Reserve is doing.

The Army Reserve has signed partnership agreements with more than 200 employers in nearly every state. Opportunities exist with Fortune 500 companies, healthcare centers, law enforcement agencies, transportation companies, state and federal agencies and many more.

The Army Reserve has developed an EPI job bank Web site for Soldiers. career advisers are also available to help Soldiers achieve their career goals. Additionally, EPI field representatives are deployed across the country to connect Soldiers with employers who are eager to hire them.

Sounds good... every effort to employ our soldiers and recognize the partnership that Civilian and Military organizations must have is forward progress.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Army publishes first Reserve Retirement Guide

This article just hit my desk... looks like a pretty good guide to procedures and process for Retired Reserve soldiers. Covers about all major area and has actual links to useful sites related to Veteran's administration, etc... worth a browse...

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 4, 2009) -- The Army has created a Retirement Guide just for Army Reserve Soldiers and their families.

The 26-page Army Reserve Non-regular Retirement Information Guide was written specifically to cover the unique circumstances of Reserve retirement.

Publishing this guide will make it much easier for reserve-component Soldiers to understand the chronological steps they need to take before their actual retirement.

The Guide is in the process of being distributed through the Reserve. In the meantime, it's available online on both the Army G-1 Retirement Services homepage at, under the "What's New" tab and on the special Army Knowledge Online site for Army Retirees at

Who says this site cannot provide some useful information at times...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lisa Pagan VS the Army

Sometimes my Army gets it wrong… They are roughly treating a former Active Component soldier that has been ordered back to active Duty 4 years after departing the army. Lisa Pagan has been told that she will be discharged from the Army and the discharge may be something other than Honorable. This woman reported for Army duty with her two young children will be separated - The reason - is that she doesn't have, and cannot have, an adequate family care for her two young children.

She entered active duty in 2002, served three years on Active Duty and received an Honorable discharge upon her release in 2005. This soldier was put in the IRR after her service and in 2007 she was asked to come back on active duty. The Army called her up, she appealed, was denied, and she reported as ordered. She brought her children…. She couldn’t leave them alone at home. The Army has started screening and processing of her, then decided to provide a discharge.

I have to ask a couple questions at this point
1. How did the Army not use some common sense in dealing with this issue which required the former soldier to obtain legal counsel to resolve?
2. Is the potential of any soldier worth the poor PR that this fairly clear cut case will do for IRR program. Recruiting?
3. When does the Army permit a soldiers obligation to end…is IRR really useful with less than 50% returning to the ranks?
4. She is on duty as ordered…is there a stateside assignment in need of her skills with daycare available?

I have to say… sometimes the Army poorly handles its former employees… in this case, not recognizing that former soldiers are entitled to get on with their lives. This individual served… something 98% of this country’s youth does not do.

Time to let common sense prevail… She gets kudos for answering the call, now twice, rather than running to Canada. She reported as ordered in 2002 and again in 2008. She has filed her appeals which are well within her rights and still the Army insisted on her return to duty. It is time for the Army to resolve the issue and cut the Honorable discharge document.

Lisa – thanks for serving in the past and please don’t think the worse of my Army…I suspect it’s a few knotheads that allowed this to progress to this stage…we don’t all think the response is appropriate.

Monday, February 23, 2009

AER - We are watching

The Associated Press has found some interesting news – AER – Army Emergency Relief is a well know charity to most soldiers. They are the biggest charity inside the US Military and apparently they have been taking in more than they disburse.

Associated Press - February 22, 2009 1:15 PM ET An Associated Press investigation shows that between 2003 and 2007, the Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid.

That's at a time when many military families were struggling with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures.

The news is a little disturbing…so I went to AER’s site to see what they had to say about this large growth…

AER is the Army's own emergency financial assistance organization and is dedicated to "Helping the Army Take Care of Its Own". AER provides commanders a valuable asset in accomplishing their basic command responsibility for the morale and welfare of soldiers. AER funds are made available to commanders having AER Sections to provide emergency financial assistance to soldiers - active & retired - and their dependents when there is a valid need.

AER funds made available to commanders are not limited and are constrained only by the requirement of valid need. For these reasons, the AER assistance program is conducted within the Army structure by major commanders and their installation/organization commanders through AER sections and other related organizations.

OK – Hmmm wonder what commander retired applicants go through…so I looked at eligibility – seems to definitely favor active duty – Reserve soldiers are not normally eligible for AER unless they are on active duty… Retired Reservists are not eligible until they are age 60……OK so I guess Reserve soldiers are not really soldiers eligible for relief if they just do their normal weekend a month, 2 weeks during the summer.

Again I have to pull out the soapbox… Why would this agency treat 50% of the force with such disparity…perhaps to assist the gathering of 345 million dollars…much of it contributed by soldiers active and reserve?

AER’s mission - To collect and hold funds and to relieve distress of personnel of the Army of the United States and their dependents” - Certificate of Incorporation, 3 March 1942 … Could this count Reserve Soldiers? Should it?

Keep in mind that most of the assistance is Interest Free loans … Money that returns to AER so the AP figures don’t reflect that much of the money allocated in 2008 (70.9M) will be paid back. Loan repayments comprise 73% of income from year to year.

I don’t want to see AER’s mission stop…its needed…but hey - consider the Reserve Component a little more seriously.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Army Reserve Job Site

Stumbled accross an Army Reserve site that espouses the job opportunities with partners and supporting employers. The site is another Blogsite like this one it seems... Unfortunately the site is corporate eyewash and has all the individual personality that a PR person can impart...they need some personallity in these sites..liven it up a little... - perhaps they can get some contributors that have lived the life as Reserve Soldiers that have walked the talk.

They do have a piece on LTG Stultz - I like the touch as stated

This is no longer, the Army Reserve that I came into way back in '79

all good so far but then he candy coats Army Reserve Service with

that said, 'One weekend a month, two weeks in the summer; that's all we ask.' -

what??!? come on now ... count schooling, admin drill assemblies, G&C time, Correspondence courses etc...tell it like it is - Its work, but like any work where you are part of a team its not the time you spend but the satisfaction in the result.

Read it for yourself... try not to nod off - its at Http://

Friday, February 06, 2009

Veteran Primer

I recieved this from a Veteran Friend in the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (of which I am a proud member) It speaks of the bond that veterans have and serves as a primer about why we are the way we are...

When a Veteran leaves the 'job' and retires to a better life, many are jealous, some are pleased, and others, who may have already retired, wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know.

1. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times.

2. We know in the Military life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet.

3. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.

These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the Military world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing.

Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the 'job' and merely being allowed to leave 'active' duty.

So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.

NOW! Civilian Friends vs. Veteran Friends Comparisons

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Get upset if you're too busy to talk to them for a week.

VETERAN FRIENDS: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on the same conversation you were having the last time you met.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will kick the crowd's ass that left you behind.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Are for a while.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Are for life.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have shared a few experiences...
VETERAN FRIENDS: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no citizen could ever dream of...

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will take you r drink away when they think you've had enough.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, 'You better drink the rest of that before you spill it!' Then carry you home safely and put you
to bed...

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will ignore this.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will forward this.

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, or reserve- is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The Government of the United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life'. . . and military wives are as much veterans as their spouses.

From one Veteran to another, it's an honor to be in your company. Thank you Veterans.

Monday, January 26, 2009

They do the training differently these days

I just read the Stand-to article about the train up of the 56th Division for their deployment to Iraq. The thing that strikes me as the single most significant difference from the old school method is the significant active component support to the training effort. Gone for the moment are the days in which the Active Component did little to assist the training needs of a reserve component unit. Here we see the complete effort as it should always be to provide resources (Funding, scheduling, trainers, knowledge and training areas) for efficient training.

First Army prepares the 56th SBCT for Combat -What is it?

The 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), Pennsylvania Army National Guard, is the Army’s only reserve-component Stryker Brigade. It was mobilized in September 2008 to conduct full-spectrum operations in Iraq. Currently, Reserve units can only be mobilized up to 12 months, making the 56th maximized at their training time with the assistance of First Army at multiple sites across the country, including Camp Shelby, Miss., and the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, La.
How did the Army prepare the 56th?

The complexity and scope of the training required by the 56th was beyond the capability of any single training support brigade. The 56th was assisted by a "team of teams" of active, reserve and civilian organizations assembled by First Army and led by the 157th Infantry Brigade. The 157th is one of First Army's 16 training support brigades (TSBs) that trains and validates Army National Guard and reserve units for deployment. To successfully prepare them for their historic mission, the training team incorporated five brigade-level units, four installations, a division staff and numerous contractors.

A critical element of this effort was the partnership and support provided by the 4th SBCT, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash., who provided numerous combat counterparts from battalion commanders and command sergeants major to squad leaders. These Soldiers and leaders recently returned from Iraq and had current combat experience that reinforced the expertise unique to First Army units which was established specifically for the 56th - the 1-307th Training Support Battalion (Stryker). The 1-307th, located in Pennsylvania, has been providing assistance since the 56th was reorganized in 2004.

The 157th received additional augmentation from many other TSBs, particularly the 177th Armored Brigade, Camp Shelby, Miss., and the 72nd Field Artillery Brigade, Fort Dix, N.J., and the First Army Division East staff. Other support came from 15 different agencies for intelligence specific training; the 4th Brigade, 75th Training Division that supported a progressive series of staff training exercises; and numerous contractors with expertise in the cutting-edge technology available to all of the Army's Stryker brigades.
Why is this important to the Army?

Such combined training teams routinely assembled by First Army ensures every reserve-component unit, such as the 56th, has the essential skills and procedures needed to successfully conduct operations on today's complex battlefield.

First Army has evolved to participating in Reserve Component Training as a credible training team member instead of spectator…I applaud the improvement.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Gay members in the Military

Read the piece in Newsweek titled Don’t Ask Too Fast
In that article it discusses the President –elect’s stated goal to allow openly Gay men and women into the Military Ranks. In the article I found interesting the passage

In the next year, Mullen might have to ask troops to do something many will find even more uncomfortable: welcome openly gay men and women into their ranks. Such was the promise made by President-elect Obama in the 2008 campaign—gay-rights groups will hold him to it. To many civilians, the shift might seem natural. American attitudes toward homosexuality have evolved since 1993, the year Congress mandated that gays could serve so long as they hid their sexual orientation. The law, known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, predates "Will & Grace," and for most Americans, even the Internet. A 2008 Washington Post–ABC News poll put public support for gays serving openly at 75 percent.

But the military has its own culture, more insular and more conservative than the broader population's. In a survey of active-duty service members released last week, 58 percent said they oppose any change in the military's policy toward gays. Up to 23 percent of troops might not re-enlist if the law is repealed, according to a Military Times poll. Mullen will have to act as kind of cultural mediator between his new boss and the old institution he has managed for more than a year. That will mean advising Obama on what changes the military can (and cannot) withstand and then obliging troops to accept them.

In my mind, most military members really don’t care what sexual orientation, gender, religion or background you have any more than we want to know what is the color of your underwear. What is important is your ability to do your job in context of the overall mission. Military people are aware that Gay men and women already serve with distinction…its not going to really change things if a gay man or women does not hide that fact in the future if they can perform as part of the team completing the mission (and they can). Don’t ask, Don’t tell did not prevent Gay members from serving, it became an exit strategy for some (gay or not) and a rallying call for others (most of whom do not serve). The answer to the issue is probably to drop Don’t Ask, Don’t tell and allow members from throughout the community to serve with Honor and without unnecessary scrutiny into sexual orientation.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2009 - the year of the NCO

Happy New Year to all – 2009 – the Year of the Non Commissioned Officer

The news about what the Army has done for this year

In October 2008, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren announced that 2009 would be designated as "the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer."

In noting his gratitude and support for noncommissioned officers (NCO), Secretary Geren remarked that NCOs have provided invaluable service and continually proven their dedication and willingness to sacrifice. With our nation at war for seven years in Afghanistan and then Iraq, and the security environment more ambiguous than ever, our military is stretched thin and out of balance. We have a plan to restore balance by 2011 and to set the conditions for the future-- the NCO Corps is the key enabler to attain those objectives. The Year of the NCO is a time to enhance the education, fitness, leadership and pride in service of our NCOs through programs that sustain and grow our NCO Corps, to recognize their leadership, commitment and courage, and to inform key audiences about the responsibilities and quality of service of our NCOs.

I certainly don’t have the credentials of the Secretary of the Army, but I echo his sentiment with regard to the capabilities, contribution and commitment of the NCO Corp. I was privileged to serve with many within the NCO ranks over the span of my career. Starting with SSG Ward – my first Platoon Sergeant in 7th Cavalry in 1982. That guy tolerated me as a newly minted butter bar and taught me the best methods, gave guidance and advise that served me throughout my career.

Many other great NCOs worked (tolerated or endured) with me – more than I could ever thank here…a few names that really stand out – SFC Jan Quinlan, CSM Ron Lamb, MSG Joe Federinic, MSG Ed Mutter, MSG Jack Mutter, CSM Maynard, SFC Chris Coffin (killed in Iraq) because of longer associations or their infinite patience when I was essentially learning a new job. All of these and many others were certainly key enablers to achieving the mission in their organizations. Most were never adequately recognized for their sacrifice and commitment leaving the praise to fall on me for their efforts.

I Think its great that 2009 is the year of the NCO and in my smaller way, I thought I would echo the sentiment to some great NCOs that made the difference in my career.