When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush’s surge.
1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.
“It’s pretty much a slap in the face,” Anderson said. “I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership… once again failing the soldiers.”
Anderson’s orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.
Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.
“Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month,” Anderson said.
That money would help him pay for his master’s degree in public administration. It would help Anderson’s fellow platoon leader, John Hobot, pay for a degree in law enforcement.
“I would assume, and I would hope, that when I get back from a deployment of 22 months, my senior leadership in Washington, the leadership that extended us in the first place, would take care of us once we got home,” Hobot said.
Both Hobot and Anderson believe the Pentagon deliberately wrote orders for 729 days instead of 730. Now, six of Minnesota’s members of the House of Representatives have asked the Secretary of the Army to look into it — So have Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman.
Quick. Someone throw on a lapel pin!
The Other Steve
So 22 months… Think their employers held their jobs for them?
I believe the law only requires 12 months.
Gold Star for Robot Boy
1st Lt. Jon Anderson said…
Boy, there sure are a lot of people with books to peddle.
Saw that yesterday. Hoped you’d comment. I can’t because the whole ‘never served’ thing means I can’t have an opinion on military matters. Would the military short them a day to deny benefits?
I see your lapel pin and raise you a +2 Unholy Lapel Pin of Criticism Deflection. (Proudly hanging my D&D nerd flag…)
Even though I haven’t served in the military, I know people who have. To hear them tell it, this kind of penny-pinching is par for the course for the military.
The Bushies, of course, have elevated it to an art form…
Bush did try to model himself after a Corporate President, and this definitely sounds to me like its in the Corporate vein of thinking.
If you don’t mind me asking, what does this “the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days” translate to in non-Army speak? They were only supposed to serve for 729 days and the rest of the 22 months was vacation time? Their original tour was only supposed to be 729 days long? If a guy is in the field for 22 months straight, that still only seems like around 660 days anyway.
Sounds like he was brainwashed by Moveon.org.
It was at one time (and may still be, for all I know) part of the Wal-Mart strategy: hold down costs by increasing the number of part-time works [without benefits]. 729 days just sounds too perfectly convenient to be accidental.
And I raise you both one purple index finger.
When I was active duty (and you will have to forgive me, it has been so long, I might screw up the actual names), I was single, but there was some sort of thing during our deployments that if married folks were in the field over a set number of days, it was mandated that they be paid extra money. I want to call it hardship pay, but that is probably wrong. At any rate, if I remember correctly, it was around one month separation and the extra money would kick in.
Reliably, around that time, a bus would grab up the married folks and take em home for 24 hours so that the timer would reset. I always thought it was insane, especially considering they “extra pay”for the whole unit amounted to what it costs to run an M1A1 for 10 minutes less every day of deployment. Or firing one less round out of the main gun of each vehicle.
The Other Steve
Not sure… from here
Basically they have the entire Minnesota delegation on their side. Tim Walz(D-MN01) is a former national guard command sergeant major, and is on the Veterans affairs committee. John Kline(R-MN02) is a former Marine Colonel and is on the armed services committee.
Ok, granted, Michele Bachmann probably doesn’t know whether or not these are phony soldiers, and as such has not committed to helping them.
This is the Bush Admin in a fucking nutshell. Sending the National Guard to a foreign land for the longest deployment of all, 22 months and deliberately (because no one here will convince me that 729 days was a mistake) fucking them over when they get back home.
The National Guard in a foreign land for 22 months…
Not that it will do much good, but I’ll be writing Ellison, Coleman and Klobuchar on this one. Seems like par for the course. I wonder if there will be a Senate resolution condemning this?
The Corporate Presidency is doing what countless Corps and small businesses are doing across the land. If a lunchbox worker needs 30 hours to qualify for participation in the minimal health insurance offered, how many hours do we then see assigned? Entirely rational but also bloodless and swinish. I’m only surprised that it extends beyond the grunt level.
It is completely unfair to pin this on Bush. Granted, were Clinton the President, the usual suspects would be having a field day, but you really can not blame crap like this on the President.
In capelza’s defense, the quote was “This is the Bush Admin in a fucking nutshell”. That’s a fair charge.
Meanwhile, the troop-supporting right knows what the real outrage is.
Nonesense! 729 is such a rational, logical number of days to be in a war zone. The DoD correctly recognized that, at 729 days, the morale would stay STRONG! Everyone knows, however, if extended to 730 days, they become teh gay and instead of fighting the insurgents, they just long to have sex with them.
More phony soliders….
Please note the pin in this pic. Army Secretary Pete Geren doesn’t have to answer shit.
John Cole….I wasn’t blaming the buffoon in charge, but the whole attitude that pervades his admin.
It is his war that has stretched the military so thin that thousands of NG units are spending extended tours in a foreign land. THAT I do blame him for. That and the whole “support the troops” crap his side spouts out one side of their mouths while doing this stuff.
That he directly had a hand in the 729 days I don’t believe, but it is his “leadership” that could have said, “Hey! Let’s make sure these guys are taken care of”. THAT he has not done, one bit. I’d have a fuck of lot more respect for him if he did.
Link gets a 404 error, Tim.
Getting blown up in a building is seems to be a ‘preexisting’ medical problem that can gte your goobernmint health care in the VA revoked Oh, then get fined because you didn’t complete full eenlistment.
skum – that’s all I can say
As always, penny-wise, pound-foolish.
Now how’s that missile defense boondoggle going?
laneman… oh never mind, the word I want to use could get me banned.
I work for the Army. I have said, bitterly, that these soldiers would be forgotten as soon as possible. Didn’t realize that we were trying to forget in real time.
Oh yeah, I am real popular at Iraq discussions.
I find it impossible to believe that 500 billion dollars cannot pay for a few thousand grunts to go to college. Impossible.
4 years of an instate school– ~$25K
20K troops seeking this (this could be a huge overestimation, I dunno)—— ~$500 million
Money spent per minute in Iraq — $100K (Seattle Times)
If we come back from Iraq 3.5 days ahead of schedule, every one of the GIs gets college.
Words fail me reading that Nation story, but I’m glad I still have the capacity for outrage.
While we’re outraged, think of the half million or so of our young people we committed to the hellhole that is Iraq, to experience the personal growth that is only possible living in hell. I guess we did that for a real, real good reason. Could someone clue me in?
Maybe easier just to fuggetaboutit.
That really sinks it in.
From the party that “Supports the Troops” with their lapel pins of patriotism.
I am totally geting a pin. Then I won’t have to take shit from ANYBODY.
Help me with the math here…what is 3.5 days before forever? Isn’t that like dividing by zero?
Of course. 729 is 9 cubed, and it is also a Smith number, a composite integer whose digit sum is equal to the sum of the digits of its prime factors. Military planners are well aware of its significance.
Yeah, but the Rummy-era Pentagon, when these guys orders were written, really went the extra mile to nickel and dime. And dollar. While wearing lapel pins of course, though.
Mobilization time, that’s when the clock starts. About 30 days or more needed depending on the unit. Get their stuff together ready to go, get issued more stuff, maybe a little cultural sensitivity training, and more before boarding the planes to start their tour. When they return, demobilization time, also around 30 days.
I would hope the MN Congressional delegation as a block would play a little hardball on this. These guys came back in July. Seems the issue was raised then, and the Army Secretary promised a “quick review.” Yeah.
Gates could have this fixed this in an instant. Don’t know the party makeup of the MN delegation, but hopefully they’re not afraid of someone getting mad at them and calling them names.
Damn you, Letters. I come here to be stupid and read funny (sad?) jabs at heterosexuals like Lawrence Craig and I end up learning shit instead. On a Friday, of all things. Smith brothers…who knew?
729 is 9 cubed, and it is also a Smith number, a composite integer whose digit sum is equal to the sum of the digits of its prime factors. Military planners are well aware of its significance.
I shudder to think what would happen if a Fibonacci sequence fell into the hands of the terrorists.
The situation would spiral out of control.
From Eight Men Out:
Eddie Cicotte: It’s about my bonus, Mr. Comiskey. You promised me a $10,000 bonus if I won 30 games this year and I think I deserve it.
Charles Comiskey: Harry, how many games did Mr. Cicotte win for us this year?
Harry: 29, Mr. Comiskey.
Eddie Cicotte: You told Kid to sit me down the last two weeks of the season to get ready for the series. That cost me five more starts; I know I would have won at least two more games.
Charles Comiskey: We had to get your arm ready for the series.
Eddie Cicotte: I deserve that bonus.
Charles Comiskey: 29 is not 30, Eddie. You will get only the money you deserve.
I sense the emergence of a smear, a gnomic conceit if you will: Are you accusing Larry Craig of being a Smith brother?
Todays leftists are much more clever – instead revealing their real agenda of castrating America by protesting the war, they disguise themselves as patriots and volunteer to go fight in it … so that they can use their new position to stab the country, and the Real soldiers serving it, in the back.
Make no mistake – for liberals, 2 years in Iraq is a small price to pay for a chance to put America in their rhetorical cross hairs. Hell it’s a vacation. The surge is working, violence is down, Iraqis love Americans again, and the prospect of spending 2 years in a tropical climate getting paid by the nation they are trying to undermine is an attractive prospect to liberals. Its not coincidence that the disgusting smear campaign against the heros at Blackwater is happening at the same time that Liberals are ramping up their campaign to infiltrate the US military with their idealogical commissars. Its clearly a Soros funded effort to undermine the surge by sending the heros home and replacing them with even more liberal phony soldiers.
Uber-commandante Markos probably has more applications from would-be saboteurs than he can deal with.
The saddest thing is that it’s working. Again and again Americans make the mistake of not seeing them for what they are. They make the mistake of assuming that just because a guy volunteered to wear the uniform and spend a year or two in Iraq that he can’t be a seditious coward secretly out to sell this country to his Islamic masters and FORCE OUR WOMEN TO WEAR BURKHAS while serving in the Harem of some swarthy Arab. They can and they are. Even a tough guy like Christopher Hitchens is falling for these sob stories. I’m sorry, but any who writes “Anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq” is clearly no patriot. We’re supposed to assume he took point to protect his fellow soldiers, but how do we know? His reason for volunteering to take point could have easily been so that he could more easily send coded messages to his Al Queda masters, perhaps by blinking. A quick look at the pictures of this “patriot” shows that he didn’t even have an American flag on his lapel! I also wouldn’t be surprised if he was an illegal alien – he was from California
Let me make this clear: Service is spending 2 years in cheeto-stained pajamas serving on the front lines of the internet and defending this Country and it’s most beloved radio-talk-show hosts from the slanderous Nazi-like attacks of Osamas liberal lackys.
These guys didn’t serve their country – their country “got served” by them. This government already subsidized their 2 year sabbatical of treason and now these liberals want the handouts to continue in the form of free edumication. No way. If anyone deserves education credits its guys like Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds … and me.
Anyone yet ask Rush if these guys were shipped home 1 day short because they were phony soldiers?
“It is completely unfair to pin this on Bush.”
It seems entirely fair to pin it on Bush, the Commander in Chief, who has hardly shied away from accusing Democrats of not supporting the troops, and who pretty much only appears in front of prop military audiences these days.
(Because, presumably, even an all-GOP audience couldn’t be guaranteed to be sufficiently obsequious, so they need to use people Bush has command over.)
The GOP spin: These guys are phony soldiers who just want to get back to their Minnesota airport bathrooms.
I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mr. Atkins,” when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.
Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy how’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.
We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country,” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
But Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!
I believe that this unit was also composed of elements of the Iowa and perhaps the North Dakota National Guard. One of my childhood friends is in the Iowa Guard and returned from Iraq while I was home for a family wedding. 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry the “Ironman” Battalion.
Check out the return ceremony http://www.iowaindependent.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=645
One of my cousin’s husbands was with the Minnesota guard over there as well. My childhood buddy was working for his brother-in-law, but that company was sold in the 2 years he was gone, so no job, no education benefits, What the h#@@!?
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how well the GOP convention is welcomed in Minneapolis if this doesn’t get fixed before that?
Nothing more embarrassing that being picketed by the soldiers whose back you crawled up.
That said, I really hope and believe that this will get rectified.
Reminds me of the Walter Read scandal. The Bush Administration treats “the troops” like cannon fodder.
t. jasper parnel
Wait, Iowans practice polyandry?
Also re blaming Bush, the Yamashita judgement (IMTFE Manila Trial) held that a military commander was responsible for the actions of those under his (or her) command even if she (or he) did not in fact know what was going on. As the dissenting Supreme Court Justices pointed out this meant that the President (as commander in chief of America’s armed and naval forces) was responsibile (in a legal sense) for everything that occurred during a war. So, then, the answer would seem to be yes Bush is responsibile in law for what his subbordinates do whether or not he knows of it. One wonders, of course, if this includes the Blackwater mercenarium and house of taffy.
t. jasper parnel Says:
One of my cousin’s husbands
Wait, Iowans practice polyandry?
HA HA, I don’t get none o’ that book lernin here in Iowa.
Seriously, the correct way to say it would be the husband of one of my cousins.
t. jasper parnel
Darn it; I had high hopes that Iowa could become a haven for a new Female (possible Feminist) break-away group of Mormans.
Well, “one of my cousins’s husband” is technically correct too, but it’s poor style.
t. jasper parnel
Actually, no. Style being a matter of judgement the use of is fine. The United States of America, for example or the President of the United States of America. My cousin’s husband would be fine, although we lose the plural. Sytle, much like beauty, depends on the beholder’s eye.
Bob In Pacifica
The angry national guardsmen won’t be able to get to the GOP convention to protest because the bridge is down!
Norbizness beat me to it.
Step 1. BOHICA.
Step 2. See step 1.
Yes, the Army will short your orders! It’s nothing new and it’s the Army way. The way to beat it is to read your orders immediately and figure out just what it is you’re being asked to BO- for before -HICA. If you’re got a decent officer in command, he’ll get the orders changed, provided you’re persistent…
Or you could write (as I did) “one of my cousins‘s husband” and keep the plural. IMO, it’s poor style because “cousins’s” is a bit hard to pronounce.
Oh yes we can. This fish rots from the head down.
Its not a bug, its a feature.
hey, if you run the army on the cheap, there’s more for your cronies and we all know how important that is.
Quick, make all the flag lapel wearers show that their American flag lapel pins were made in the U.S.
Now THAT is a challenge. Good one.
729 days is one day short of 2 full years. (365 * 2 = 730)
I don’t know, but I’ll bet some other things kick in at 730 days – like maybe these guardsmen can’t be called up for another 5 years.
I do know that in the Army I used to belong to, the officers and senior enlisted knew what benefits kicked in when. That entire detachment would have found themselves waiting for planes for an additional day in Baghdad, just to get them to 730 days so they could get those benefits. Because that didn’t happen, assuming the 729 days was deliberate is pretty good reasoning.
It could also be an active vs reservist thing; I won’t deny that either.
These folks had their orders changed when in-country. The 1st Brigade Combat Team was in the first wave of the “surge.” They were supposed to return from their deployment in April, but had their deployment extended 125 days to constitute one of the four brigades Bush talked about in the “surge” in January.
The soldiers getting shorted make up almost half the total brigade, and were on active duty for two years, counting their pre- and post- deployment time on active duty. The rest of the unit served slightly less time. Two years, you may recall, is the same amount of time draftees served during Vietnam, with more time for these folks “in country.” The full two years, or 730 days, is required to qualify for the “active duty” educational benefit under the Montgomery GI Bill.
I’m still active, and can back up what John is saying here. It’s thirty days, and you bet your ass they have set up training missions to ensure that married soldiers don’t get their separation pay, often by one day.
Kathy in St. Louis
The government needs to save as much of the military budget as possible so that Blackwater employees get paid.
Or does that come out of some other pocket?
These soldiers are obviously all phonies. No real soldier would expect hand-outs from Uncle Sam.
The GOP thinks that nothing is too good for our troops.
They just haven’t figured out how to give soldiers less than nothing.