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June 24, 2009
You're WelcomeBy Greyhawk
If after paying for your home and utilities, your food, and your family's medical care, you were left with $17,000 for the year, could you eke out an existence on that? (Think about your own earnings after those expenses...)
That's the worst-case scenario for a brand-new military member, an E1 - assuming they received no bonus for enlisting in the first place. Then again, promotion to E2 comes before that first year is up, so after a few months they'll actually be making close to 19k a year. By the time they're an E4 with a couple years in, base pay is up to 23-24k. Achieve NCO status and you're close to 30k - in addition to your housing, food, medical care, and any special allowances or bonuses. Not bad for a high school graduate with no additional training or experience, says I. (Official military base pay table here.)
Still, you'll often see horror stories citing that 17 thousand/year base pay as if that was all she wrote. But military pay is most likely different than yours, as about.com attempts to explain here:
They show E1 earnings at 35k, and E5 at 50+. And regardless of any other bonuses, they all get free health care for themselves and their families.
Now given the job they do - risking life to keep America safe - I also say they aren't getting paid enough (even with an extra 8k or so for a year's duty in a combat zone). And if you or anyone else wants to pick up the tab for a GI the next time you see one at lunch somewhere that's a great way to say thanks. Likewise, if you're the sort that sends care packages to the troops overseas I can assure you from personal experience they are appreciated. I never received one that didn't contain things I couldn't have bought for myself - but that's not the effing point. The knowledge that folks back home who didn't even know me actually gave a damn was priceless.
That said, this annoys me (to put it kindly) - and if you can't see the difference then I'm wasting my breath:
WASHINGTON, DC - On Thursday, June 25th, the President and First Lady will join hundreds of Congressional family members and five national nonprofit organizations to prepare 15,000 backpacks with books, healthy snacks, Frisbees and other items for the children of servicemen and women. The service event is part of United We Serve, President Obama's call to all Americans to engage in service projects and create meaningful impact in their towns and communities. The United We Serve summer service initiative began June 22nd and runs through the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th. The initiative is being led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency dedicated to fostering service in communities across the country.
And frankly, the fact that a military installation is being used as a backdrop for the charade adds fuel to the fire.
I think there are plenty of ways to say thanks for your service. I've taken advantage of free days at amusement parks for military members and families, I'm aware of summer camps set up for kids of deployed parents - awesome idea.
But healthy snacks? Frisbees? Really? I think charity is a great idea - if there are malnourished kids somewhere whose parents can't afford to give them healthy snacks then I salute the efforts of any charity to right that wrong. I'm not even opposed to Government aid to that end. But if those kids are the children of military members, it's for individual reasons beyond mom and dad don't get paid enough to buy them food.
The children of military members sacrifice for their country too, and they don't get a vote on that in more ways than one. So if you want to thank those kids for their sacrifice I think it's a great thing. They deserve it - in fact, you can't thank them enough. (But that shouldn't stop anyone from giving them a gift certificate for an ice cream cone or a free movie. Like me in Iraq they'll appreciate that.)
But I'm more than a little annoyed when I see military members treated as poverty stricken charity cases, which I think is the not-too-subtle message being sent here. And it seems to be part of a larger military member as helpless victim signal that increasingly seems to emanate from the home of the Commander in Chief. I suppose there's a fine line between thanking someone and insulting someone, and it's individually defined. But in this case I believe it's been crossed.
So I hope none of the folks involved aren't offended if I don't thank them.
(But thank you for reading.)
Posted by Greyhawk / June 24, 2009 9:45 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
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