[Sca-cooks] tipping the wait staff - long

Wanda Pease wandap at hevanet.com
Sun Nov 5 21:38:16 PST 2006

Jadwiga said:
> If the Military is employing people with your attitude (don't have
> children) to arrange things like this, I'm not surprised about what I
> hear.

I guess you are right.  The female Corporal stationed in Chico, CA (long
ways from a Base or Post) with a non-working husband, 4 children, and
another on the way; who is getting Family Leased Housing (the Army is
picking up her rent and utilities, not to mention full medical care for all,
including pre-natal and post natal care; full dental care for her, free of
charge, etc.) certainly should receive a medal instead of a quick way out of
the Military because of the $2000 she has put on her Government Credit Card
and can't pay.  That is what hit my Stupid Reply button.  I'm trying
desperately to make sure that she gets all her dental work done and any
medical she is going to need (please God, let them hold off until this baby
is born and a couple of months old so the Well Baby care can pay for the
initial shots!) before they put her out of the Army as "unfit for duty".

Then there are the e-mails and phone calls hooking her up with counselors,
both mental (she is under pressure which I'm sure you can imagine) and
financial (the Government card isn't the only one that is at max).  Unless a
miracle occurs she and her children are going on the California welfare
system shortly.  That isn't going to provide the respite she needs to get
her feet under her (she's keeping them up as much as possible because this
pregnancy is not going well.)

I'm also working with the Commander who is one of the nicest men I've worked
under, and with her Company Commander to see what we can do to hold off the
wolves a bit longer.  If you have any real suggestions for a woman who is
presently undergoing a lot of the stress I would beg you to share it with

Soldiers on food stamps.  Yes, I've seen that, but usually in Alaska where
everything that is only 100% overpriced is considered "cheap".  Her husband
is in Iraq.  Most of my Soldiers are recently back from either there or
Afghanistan. Some after 3 back to back tours.  There isn't really much to
spend money on over there those who are just back tell me, as do the ones I
send "care" packages to via www.anysoldier.com (there is another list for
SCA in the Sandbox).  Some places like Camp Anaconda have all the benefits
from Pizza Hut and Burger King, to chow halls and PX's.  Others are a 12
hour horseback ride down the mountain trails to hit a Post where they can
get mail and try and buy some clean underwear and socks before they
disappear from the shelves.  Most requested item?  Feminine products and
athletes foot powders.  They are unbuyable. Not because they are priced out
of sight, but because they come in and people sandbag them because a new
shipment may not get there for three months.

You won't like the question but:  what is the Soldier who is deployed
spending his money on?  Does she know exactly how much he is making and
where it is going?  The number of Spouses I deal with who have no idea how
much their Soldier is actually pulling in with base pay, Separate Rations
(he should be still getting this since he has a family at home) Danger Pay
(Recruiter pay for my Soldiers), etc. is amazing.  I know you are angry at
me, but please introduce her to the website www.myarmylifetoo.com or
www.armyfrg.org and, if she hasn't already done it, get some Army Family
Team Building training (it's available on-line in modules 1, 2, 3 so she can
pick it up and put it down when the kids and job need her.  She needs to be
part of her husband's unit's Family Readiness Group.  The ones I'm familiar
with from Fort Lewis are great, but that all depends on the volunteers you
have working to make it a success.  These Spouses are going through the same
things that she is.  If she will she can help others while getting help
herself (moral and morale support).

She is menopausal (God's gift to women if they can make it that long).
Sounds like her husband is either Guard or Reserves.  They get treated the
worst sometimes.  The Regular Army has had some severe lessons learned
shoved down it's collective throat, and a lot of good people way away from
me are actually trying to do something to get better benefits that last even
after they have been demobilized. Since this ... (deep breath) Commander in
Chief has decided to take men and women out of their regularly paying jobs
and send them to OIF/OEF duty again and again (Oregon needed it's Guard to
fight forest fires this summer) a grateful Nation has a responsibility to
take care of them exactly as it does it's "Regulars".  At least she and the
children have full medical care (TRICARE RESERVE Select) and if the Soldier
has signed them up, dental insurance as well.  For her and the kids it
should cost about $22 a month.  If they are having trouble getting ends to
meet now, that may seem like a lot to take from his pay, but it only takes
one kid tripping over his bike/tricycle and knocking out front teeth to make
this pay off.

I know you have me on your despise list, but if she hasn't tried
www.militaryonesource.com she should.  They also have a toll free number,
but I can't think of it off hand.  It's a helpful group the Army originally
contracted with to give employee information.  The rest of the Services saw
that it was good and bought into the contract.  These people can do the most
incredible things to be sure that Spouses and Military members are getting
the most help they can.  They have everything from a translation service
(haven't stumped them with a language yet) to counseling, both telephonic
(great when the pressure gets to be too much at 2am in the morning) AND face
to face sessions with a degreed counselor near her.  They can even tell her
all the childcare places that are available around her, the plumbers, the
electricians, whatever she might need.  If they don't know the answer to her
questions, and she may not know she has questions with answers, they will
find out the answers.

Does she know about the Military Child Care program?  Not the things on the
Posts, but the one that can pay up to 25% of child care expenses.  The care
doesn't have to be from a big Montessori type group either.  I've got
Soldiers in Redding who are using a small "mom and pop" operation.  All they
had to do was fill out the proper paperwork.  If they are a legitimate
childcare operation they already have the state license.

There is NO Post or Base housing for ANY of my Soldiers, except those
stationed on Oahu and Guam.  That means I have nearly 200 Soldiers and
nearly that many families who are living on the economy exactly as you and I
are.  Some are living in tourist resort communities like Newport, Oregon,
one of the most beautiful places on the Pacific Coast. Others are living in
Bend, Oregon.  Year round tourist and boom town.  Hiking, White Water
rafting, Mountain climbing in the Summer, Skiing and Snowmobiling in the
winter.  Rents are out of sight.  Most actually live in Redmond, Oregon
about 25 miles away (highway is so straight you can put your car on
autopilot and sleep they say - hope not, because the deer still don't
understand cars).  They are getting Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) which
is laughingly supposed to cover their rent and utilities so they don't have
to pay any more out of pocket than SGT Snuffy Smith does at Fort Lewis.  I
and every SFA in the Recruiting Command are screaming bloody murder up the
chain of command to the guys and gals with stars on their shoulders.  This
is an Army Family Action Plan complaint every year.  I wish the Commanding
General that made up the BAH tables had to come out here and live on a
E6/Staff Sergeants BAH for a year!  Better yet, send him to LA and let him
live near the Hollywood Recruiting Station on that amount!

For the record, I don't hate children.  However I want what is best for
them, not necessarily what mom and dad want.  I much prefer the adoption
option to abortion or trying to stretch the family budget to cover one more
child.  While we were stationed in Germany we had several friends who asked
to be assigned there because it was possible to adopt an American baby
there.  The one pair I remember best were both Nurses with MA's.  Here in
the States they had been told there was no chance, they were too old at 35.
They came to Germany and were able to adopt the sweetest little boy who was
matched to their phenotype.  He will know he was adopted and wanted very
much, and that his birth parent decided that what was best for him was the
most important thing.

Some of these children were products of a dependant daughter that got
pregnant and had to understand that although the Military would take care of
her as a dependant it would not care for the child (unless the military
parent adopted the child).  The German government wasn't going to step in
and help either.  She could have the baby and do her best to make a go of it
on her own (you know something about that, don't you?) or she could give the
child up for adoption by people who had passed rigorous screenings (more
than most parents have to!).

Others of these children were the results of a Family looking at the
pregnancy and then their budget.  If my Corporal were there, and talking to
the Chaplain, he or she would gently offer adoption as a loving possibility
for the child and herself.  Sometimes that option isn't, and the kids are
raised by the scruff of the neck.  That's why I was a foster mom over there
to an 11 year old who needed a family desperately.  He and his brother had
been brought over by their mother at 6 and 7 years of age.  She had no
command sponsorship (hadn't been in the Army long enough and she was a
single parent.  No Family Care Plan if the Russians came over the border and
she had to join her unit.

She found a place on the German economy and set the kids up there.  She was
home when she could be; however, when the unit went to Grafenwoehr or
Vielseck for two or more weeks training those two little ones were on their
own.  The guys in the rear detachment stopped by once a day to be sure that
the boys were getting enough to eat and to school, but that was it.  Illegal
as all get out, but SHE got what she wanted.  Her children with her.  Was it
good for the boys?  They survived it.

I took Robert in when he was 11, and another family looked after Bill.  We
didn't take them away from mom, we just made sure that they always had
emergency money, and knew how to get to our home with a key.  Basically
Robert lived with my husband and I from 11 to 17 when we had to go back to
the States.  I'd hoped that the stability we had provided would be enough;
however, he still has abandonment issues at 33.  He lives here in Portland,
used to be with me, but then he got a great job with Intel than allowed my
little 6'4" geek to climb up the computer ladder, buy his own house and find
a great girl.  Now if I can just get the idiot to marry her so I don't have
to tell him that she's my new daughter with or without him.

You took it on the chin, and you made it.  Not everyone manages that and the
kids pay the price.  I see way too many teenagers curled up in boxes or
sleeping bags under the bridges here in Portland because although there may
be a house to go to, there is no home.  Kids don't always need parents, but
they do always need some adult role model, and someone to love them.  Maybe
not the love of a parent, possibly the love of an Aunt or Cousin, or even an
older sibling.  Sometimes that parental love needs to be the hard one that
says: "Honey, I love you so much that for just a little while you are going
to go live with Aunt Wanda.

Actually that used to be a standard Recruiting gambit for the young woman
who already had a child or two but wanted the job training that the Army has
available.  The Recruiter couldn't tell her, but his wife could.  Sign full
custody for your children over to your parents, your sister, someone else.
Go through Basic and AIT  (Job Training).  Get your life together and enough
rank to care for them.  Then sign the papers to take them back.  Sounds
dangerous?  Well, that young woman with two children was in a lot more
danger taking a job as a night clerk in 7-ll.  I've met enough female
Soldiers to know that it was the Only way out and up for them... and their

> > I grant you that 20 years ago I knew military families who were on food
> > stamps.  The cause was almost always that they had more
> children than the
> > wages could cover.
> I know a woman who was on food stamps while her husband was on
> deployment in Iraq. Two kids, the second one a menopause surprise. No
> base housing in our state. I've seen the numbers, and she ain't spending
> money foolishly.
> --
> -- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
> "History doesn't always repeat itself. Sometimes it screams
> 'Why don't you ever listen to me?' and lets fly with a club."
> _______________________________________________

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