You know, the ones where good times and happiness give you the finger and ride off into the sunset? I was so excited to be less then thirty days from going home, only to be told I’m now going home ‘on time’ ten days after my end of tour date because it’s an ‘authorized variation of the deployment orders’. It’s not an extension, its just a change to the on-time date. Completely different.
I think I’m going to buy a bag of marshmallows just in case every aircraft in the squadron spontaneously combust, that way we can all laugh and roast marshmallows as the damn things burn. Yes, morale and loyalty to the squadron are that low. It’s not even just the squadron. Part of it is that it’s a stand-alone expeditionary unit, responsible to no one stateside. Part of it is that every time anyone in the leadership chain starts out by saying we did something well, some form of ass-chewing inevitably follows. And part of it is that it at least seems like nobody gives a shit about any of us as anything more than numbers. They preach about ‘mission first, people always’, but it very quickly becomes obvious that it’s ‘mission always, people never’. Seven day a week ops? Not a problem! Expecting people to spend half the year deployed and then come home and work twelve hour days? Standard! Nobody needs to see their family. If that airman wanted to be home for the birth of his kid he should have volunteered to deploy early. It’s his own fault you know. Oh, you got injured moving that 550lb safe that we demanded be moved down the hallway NOW when we didn’t have equipment? Go get some motrin, and then quit bitching about it. The physical therapy and rehabilitation is just a suggestion, we have the commander’s waiver for it right here. What’s that you’re on profile, have been for the past three years, but still deploy anyways? You’re obviously malingering and are a useless, lazy fuck who doesn’t belong in the military.
Rants done. Maybe I’ll have a non-bitchfest next week.
Anyone ever suggests someone make a career out of the military. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to serve my country, and if they let me I have every intention of serving for many more years (well, a dozen or so). And yet, every day we have more and more come out regarding the military, my beloved USAF in particular, finding new and creative ways to screw over it’s people. Be it AFPC changing the rules midway through a program, a passive-aggressive mid-management ADO dictating when and if someone can take leave or get intimate with their spouse, HHQ trying to Jedi mind-trick us into believing ‘there are no morale issues in the missile Force’, or a bunch of four-star generals (who make, at MINIMUM $16,072.23 a MONTH base pay, not counting BAH, BAS, and any other incentive pays they make that add considerably to it) say that ‘the troops’ understand and embrace the idea of a cut in pay and benefits.
Yes, that two years in E-4 up to the not-quite twenty and retirement E-7 who make up the backbone of the military (pay scale between $2,101.90 and 4,371.74 a month) is wholeheartedly in favor of the cuts you suggest, you over-paid, over-brassed, good-idea-fairy-struck genius, you. I have heard it said jokingly before, but I am fully in favor of attaching an E-4 who WILL NOT be reenlisting (make it a career-ending assignment if necessary) to everyone O-6 and above to go ‘Yeah, the yes-men are lying to you boss; the rank-and-file will tar you in effigy for that idea.
So, yeah. Not a chance in hell of me suggesting my kids enlist or commission. I won’t be completely opposed to it, but I sure as hell won’t recruit them into it. I’ll make sure they go into it with both eyes open if they decide it’s something they want, and I’ll strongly suggest no more than a single term.
I was given a Lee Greenwood cd years ago (Lord does that make me feel old…) and it was my first introduction to this hymn as anything other than words on paper. It’s sill my favorite rendition, and the video has some paintings of Civil War scenes. Enjoy, maybe I’ll get around to posting something later.
Why am I posting this now? Other then the whole one-year-later thing? Because of this. I read that article and my mind, one year later, went back to that sentence. “No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.” I went back to that blog. It took a while to find it, it didn’t stay on my ‘must read’ list, I’m sad to say. I wish it had. She’s done a lot in the past year in regards to advocating for treatment availability. Even better, they have a diagnosis for her son and medication that has helped him be who he wants to be without the swings. But we still have the problem of people not getting treatment, or getting treatment only if they’re charged with something, and then only until they’re released or off probation.
So, what can we do about it? How can we go about treating this? It’s a problem across the spectrum of our society, and one we need to address. In 1963 Congress passed the Community Mental Health Act that was supposed to lead to the creation of a large number of community-based care centers. What happened? The usual. Half were built, none funded fully, and the concept just faded into the background over the next few decades as the state psychiatric hospitals were closed. The overall takeaway? Nowhere near enough beds or clinicians to care for the people who need help. Econ 101 now, a scarcity of resources leads to an increase in cost. Cost of care goes up, coverage goes down, care becomes harder to get, and we wind up in a situation where people don’t get care until they’ve committed a crime, if then.
I’m not saying we need to bring back mass-institutionalization, that wouldn’t solve our problems. I’m saying we need to look at ways as a society to improve care. Let’s start with removing the stigma. People have no more control over a mental illness than they do any other disease. It’s not a matter of being ‘tougher’, of ‘looking on the bright side’ or ‘relaxing’. It’s not that they’re ‘too stressed’ or ‘always angry’, it’s a no-shit disease that needs to be treated. Let’s expand the psychiatric wards we have, add more clinics, and find a way to increase interest in that field. How? I don’t know. I do know that ignoring it isn’t working, and just throwing a pile of cash at it will do no more good than it did with education or airport security. But it’s something that needs to be done, and soon. We’re failing those who need help, and their families. That’s not acceptable.
A little under a year ago I read a blog post that made me stop and reevaluate my thoughts and opinions. That post? Thinking the Unthinkable on The Anarchist Soccer Mom. It was a little thing to me, at first. A tale of life with her ill son, his sudden swings from normal kid to violent, and her struggle to find him care. I was a new father (my eldest not yet a year old…), and I wondered how I’d react to that type of situation. And then it shoved a knife into my gut.
I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”
Read that last sentence again. One more time. “No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.” That brought out my third reaction. “What the HELL is wrong with us?” It’s not just one state. There are reports from people all across the country dealing with this. This right here? This is the type of thing we should be funding. It’s something that’s important, has an effect on the populace at large, and would be a much more valid use of the general welfare clause of the Constitution as opposed most of what is done under it.
While stumbling my way through a couple blogs I recently discovered, I came upon a short video from some show (“Newsroom”, I guess. Post I found is here) with some character going off about how we ‘used to’ be the greatest country in the world. Really? Yes, we’ve slid quite a ways down fro what we one were, but who exactly has stepped up to the plate since? Not the UK with their bans on speech they disagree with. Not Germany, France, or Greece with their repression of political parties that are too ‘extreme’. Australia? Not hardly. They’ve done better economically, but they’ve been steadily marching down the path of restricting liberty (speech, personal property, you name it) for the past few decades. Russia, China? Don’t make me laugh.
Have we stumbled? Yeah. Pretty badly. Only reason we’re not flat on the floor is the wall we ran into is holding us up. We over-regulate individual behavior, underestimate the ability of people to take care of themselves, and all-in-all make a mess of everything we touch.
Education? We’re not doing very well. We have a lot of college graduates, sure. But what exactly does any of the various liberal arts degrees they go deep into debt for really prepare them to do? Great, you can spout off about how horrible this or that historical activity was. I wouldn’t hire you. We’ve destroyed the vocational schools around the country by pushing everyone to go to college. In the process, we’ve subsidized the cost to the point that it’s not considered a serious endeavor by a large percentage of those attending. Who is better prepared for their future, a twenty-three year old with a four year degree in liberal arts, or the twenty year old who just completed three years of vocational training as a welder, plumber, auto mechanic, or any of a few hundred other sorely-needed jobs?
To be honest, there’s precious little that we do well other than spend money we don’t have. What hope have we? Well, maybe the last decade of war will be our savior. While nowhere near the numbers who served in WW2, Korea, or Vietnam, we have a generation now that knows both how terrible war can be, and how much worse politics can make it. Yes, the 18-20 year old guys mostly just complain about an NCO or officer making their life hell, but it’s not them I’m referring to. I mean the 26-35 year old NCO’s who have seen the stupidity first hand, and in many cases have resolved to do something about it. We’ve seen the first few OEF/OIF vets run for office, but most of them were either old guard military guys who retired as it started or were there for a few years and then got out. But now we have people on their fourth, fifth, six rotation. Being deployed puts everything in a unique perspective. You get to see all the stupidity and bull shit of politics as usual at home from a distance.
Assuming we all survive, the next ten to twenty years should see some interesting developments in the political scene.
Well…can’t say I’m too surprised we’re at this point. Speaking as someone who depends on the fed gov for a paycheck, it sucks. On the other hand,maybe we’ll finally come to grips with our spending problem. I’ll post later with a more in-depth look at the current issues.
UPDATE: I didn’t. Got wrapped up in life. Sorry.