So Glad You’re Still Alive, Please Pay $6,000

The military’s Sole Survivor policy is generally a good thing, I believe.  Even though we have an all-volunteer military, the negative psychological effect of a family losing *all* its children is not be discounted.  They shouldn’t be quite such chinchy bastards about it, however:

Forced to leave the combat zone after his two brothers died in the Iraq war, Army Spc. Jason Hubbard faced another battle once he returned home: The military cut off his family’s health care, stopped his G.I. educational subsidies and wanted him to repay his sign-up bonus.

Um, what?  If he had come to the end of his hitch, and not elected to re-up, his discharge would have been the same status, and he would have retained all benefits.  So, by virtue of first losing two brothers, and then being discharged due to a policy whose entire raison d’etre is compassion, it somehow made sense to NOT continue to provide the bennies advertised?

No, doesn’t make sense at all.  Good on the young gentleman for contacting his Congresscritter, and double good on the Congresscritter for A) getting his benefits reinstated, and B) introducing legislation that will prevent some overzealous ledger-checker from doing same in the future.


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32 Responses to “So Glad You’re Still Alive, Please Pay $6,000”

  1. Robb Allen Says:
    April 16th, 2008

    See, this is the problem when dealing with bureaucrats. They suffer no backlash when the screw up things.

    This reminds me of a time when I tried to turn in some receipts for a business trip. The drone in accounting called me and told me I couldn’t turn in copies and that she needed the original. I told her I didn’t have the hotel receipt any more. She told me to have it faxed.

    She could accept a fax, but not a copy? She said “sorry, that’s what’s written in the books” and would have no further discussion.

    The government works in this exact fashion.

  2. Madrocketscientist Says:
    April 16th, 2008

    Reminds me of when the Pentagon was telling soldiers who were medically discharged that they had to pay back a pro-rated amount of their enlistment bonus.

    Another reason I have issues with this war, the Bush Administration keeps trying to fight it on the cheap.

  3. Gregg Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    That is not a Bush Administration problem. I take it that you have never heard of the “Bonus War”?

  4. Morgan Says:
    April 17th, 2008


    That’s because bureaucracies, whether public or private (but generally worse when public because bigger and even more impersonal) are just machines. Many people call it “The System” or “The Establishment”, but I feel “Machine” is more accurate. That the machine’s operating units are humans is irrelevant – they are just operating units, not thinking humans. Why do I call it this?

    Well, I have this computer. When I refer to it as my machine, everyone knows exactly what I mean – it doesn’t think, it has a program, and if I give it the relevant inputs (press the right buttons) the program runs. Whether the program is making any sense is irrelevant, it runs because it’s a machine and that’s what a machine does; and it doesn’t think; there’s nothing in my machine that stops and thinks “Hey, this isn’t making sense, let’s take another look at it” What is a program? A program is nothing but a set of rules, regulations and procedures – a set of operating instructions to be followed without deviation. Whether the final outcome makes sense is also irrelevant. The program reaches the end of its run and spits out the outcome. “There you go, didn’t I do well – followed every rule, regulation and procedure and didn’t deviate once. This result MUST be correct.”.

    Now a bureaucracy, on the other hand has its rules, regulations and procedures; i.e. a set of operating instructions to be followed without deviation. I suppose you wouldn’t be far wrong if you called it a program. Whether these make sense in any individual case is irrelevant, and whether the final outcome makes any sense is irrelevant. It’s given relevant inputs, then the rules, regulations and procedures – the program if you like – are followed i.e. the program runs. No operating unit ever stops and thinks “Hey, this isn’t making any sense, let’s take another look at it” The final output? By definition it must be correct because the rules, regulations and procedures were followed without deviation.

    Oh wait, we’ve been here before. Deja vu.

    All over again.

    John Connor, you were wasting your time. The machine won.

    Read about Stanley Milgram’s work – that comes into this.

    The politicians – the bastards that write the programs in ways that deliberately leave individual decision-making (i.e. sense) out of things – have a lot to answer for.

    I have a big pile of sharpened, 8ft lengths of 3×3. I wonder what I could use them for? Any suggestions?

  5. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008


    I have never heard of the bonus war

    Please enlighten

  6. Robb Allen Says:
    April 17th, 2008


    Let me say that when I was in the Marines, this kind of shit happened all the time. The slightest paperwork error and you’d find yourself not getting paid for a month or so.

    One time I had to miss a drill and contacted my Gunnery Sgt. who gave me permission. He failed to record it in the logs and the Sgt. Major called me in his office the next drill. I explained what happened, the Sgt. Major called the Gunny, and everything was settled.

    ‘Cept it still wasn’t in the logs. I missed a promotion because of it. It took nearly a year before the records could be corrected and back pay issued.

    The bureaucracy of the military makes other governmental agencies look quite flexible.

    Bush was in charge then, but not the Bush we all loathe and hate. Then Clinton came along and I had to switch two bases because of closures.

    Talk about running on the cheap!

  7. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008


    See, I never had those kinds of troubles, or even heard of them. And were you in the reserve at the time (missing a drill in active duty usually results in more than a loss of pay I would think)?

    Of course, the Navy is rather anal-retentive when it comes to logging things.

    Still, I hold to my opinion that Bush Administration is fighting a war on the cheap. He’s not the first to do this, he won’t be the last, and this is not a problem that falls to any party, but the criticism is still valid.

    As for the mistakes of a bureaucracy just following the rules, there is more to this than just an idiot in the accounting office. It seems that there is an attitude in the pentagon to pinch every penny, troops be damned. Such attitudes tend to come from the top down.

  8. Robb Allen Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    MRS, Yes reserves and missing the drill wasn’t what caused the pay (that was a different person / different story). For me, when I didn’t show up that drill and the Sgt. Major didn’t know about it, he marked it down. That went into my record. I wasn’t promoted because of that black mark. It took nearly a year to get it removed because of the paperwork. I did manage to get the promotion (which was retroactive) but it took an act of God to get the paperwork synched.

    As far as the criticism, yes it is still valid, I just wanted to get it out there that it’s not a Bush / Republican thing but rather a governmental thing. One of the things I learned in Boot Camp was to remember that whatever weapon I was using was made by the cheapest bidder.

    I’ve used that mindset for practically every aspect of my life and it’s helped quite a bit ;)

  9. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    No, it’s a cheap ass politician/bureaucrat thing.

  10. Hazel Stone Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    Mama will SPANK.

  11. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008


    Why do you feel the need to get out the paddle of discipline?

  12. Hazel Stone Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    Just putting a preemptive foot down before the coffee table gets broken. Again.

  13. Robb Allen Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    But I like the paddle…

  14. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    Now now, Robb and I are having a perfectly respectful discussion and expression of opinions. Robb does seem to be a rather intelligent sort and a decent fellow, so I won’t hold his membership in the USMC against him or anything.

    While I was in, some of my best friends were Marines! Stealing my food, projectile vommiting on my boat, constantly borrowing my tools, and giving me endless amounts of shit.

    See, good friends!

  15. Robb Allen Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    And I’ve always respected that the Marines are a department of the Navy.

    The Mens department.

  16. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    Oh dear lord!, I can’t believe you trotted out that one.

    What do Marines and whale vomit have in common?

    Both float on the surface of the ocean, wash up on shore, and smell just awful after a full day in the sun!

  17. Ted Bronson Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    Hey there, Jarhead, Swabbie. If you are gonna break out the service jokes, at least pick on someone who deserves it… the Air Farce. (no that isn’t misspelled.)

  18. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    If you tell a Marine officer to “secure the building,” but give him no more instruction, he will plan an assault. His troops will come in from two perpendicular directions, preceded by mortar and artillery fire, with F-18s flying close air support overhead. They will rain destruction on the structure, and then under the concealment of smoke, move into the building with two platoons, clearing each room of the building with grenades and bursts of small arms fire. When every room has been cleared they will go to the roof and raise a flag. Then the Marine officer will return and declare that the building has been secured.

    If you tell an Army officer to “secure the building,” he will lead his men to the building, they will enter it and start knocking out the windows. Filling each opening with sandbags, they will surround the structure with barbed wire and claymores (these are directional command detonated mines). He will personally emplace his machineguns in the best locations to cover the “likely avenues of enemy approach,” and after 24 hours the structure will be fit to hold off an attack from a force three times the size of the Army unit inside. He will then report that the building has been secured.

    If you tell a Navy officer to “secure the building,” he sends in the Marines with ship based support from aircraft, guns, and cruise missles.

    If you tell an Air Force officer to “secure the building,” he looks it up on Google Maps, gets his contracting agent, and heads down to the local real estate agent where he takes out a 20 year lease with an option to buy.

  19. Ted Bronson Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    Almost… the Naval officer will check the door to see if it is locked then declare, “Yup, it’s secure.”

  20. Ted Bronson Says:
    April 17th, 2008


    The Naval officer will make sure the entire building is airtight, all doors and windows inside and out are locked, post a seaman at the entrances with orders to let no under the rank of O-5 enter, issue a Red Tag for the one allowable entrance, then phone base HQ on a sound powered phone to declare the building secure.

  21. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    See, right there is the difference between a squid and a gator. You guys are looking for a door to lock, and we are wondering where we left those Marines before we went for coffee, and are they are still there, or have they moved off to destroy something or take over something.

  22. Ted Bronson Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    I was stationed with an enlisted female whose hubby was a gator based in HI. He was a turd chaser who claimed that he could tell the difference between the pipes in marine country vice the ones in crew’s quarters, or officer country, or even the goat locker. Seems the goat locker pipes were never in disrepair since chiefs were always so full of shit, officer country pipes were fine at the upper levels, but fucked up down at the waterline since shit rolls downhill, crew’s quarters pipes were rusted out from the constant pissing and moaning, and marine country pipes were always full of holes since all the jarheads had to do all day was shoot the shit while they waited to offload.

  23. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    The Navy and the Air Force decided to have a canoe race on the Potomac river. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance before the race.

    On the big day, the Navy won by a mile.

    Afterwards, the Air Force team became very discouraged and depressed. The officers of the Air Force team decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A “Metrics Team,” made up of senior officers was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

    Their conclusion was that the Navy had 8 seamen rowing and 1 officer steering, while the Air Force had 1 airman rowing and 8 officers and NCOs steering.

    So the senior officers of the Air Force team hired a consulting company and paid them incredible amounts of money. They advised that too many people were steering the boat and not enough people were rowing.

    To prevent losing to the Navy again next year, the Air Force Chief of Staff made historic and sweeping changes: the rowing team’s organizational structure was totally realigned to 4 steering officers, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering NCO. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 airman rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the “Rowing Team Quality Air Force Program,” with meetings, dinners, and a three-day pass for the rower. “We must give the rower empowerment and enrichment through this quality program.”

    The next year the Navy won by 2 miles. Humiliated, the Air Force leadership gave a letter of reprimand to the rower for poor performance, initiated a $4 billion program for development of a new joint-service canoe, blamed the loss on a design defect in the paddles and issued leather rowing jackets to the beleagered steering officers in the hopes they would stay for next year’s race.

  24. Hazel Stone Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    I get to play, too, I have pedigree by proxy, seeing as how I’m an Army brat (father is a Green Beret) and my esteemed husband Ted is an ex-Squid…

    How many pilots does it take to change a light bulb?
    Just one. He holds the bulb, and the world revolves around him.

    What is the difference between an pilot and a jet engine?
    A jet engine stops whining after it lands.

    How do you know if there is an pilot at your party?
    He’ll tell you.

    What’s the difference between God and pilots?
    God doesn’t think he’s a pilot…

    What is the ideal cockpit crew?
    A pilot and a dog. The pilot is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to bite the pilot in case he tries to touch anything.

    What is the difference between an pilot and a pig?
    The pig doesn’t turn into a pilot when it’s drunk.

    What do pilots use for birth control?
    Their personality.

    The difference between the Boy Scouts and the U.S. Air Force?
    The Boy Scouts have adult supervision. The Air Force has pilots.

    Gotta respect the classics.

  25. MadRocketScientist Says:
    April 17th, 2008

    That’s the Spirit!

  26. Drumwaster Says:
    April 18th, 2008

    Favorite Navy/Marine joke punchline: “It’s an ambush! There were TWO of them!” (You’ve all heard the joke, I’m sure, and I’ve heard multiple variants…)

    You know the difference between a Sea Story and a Fairy Tale? The Fairy Tale begins “Once Upon A Time…” and the Sea Story begins, “You guys ain’t gonna believe this one…”

  27. Ted Bronson Says:
    April 18th, 2008

    DW… the sea story always starts with “…now this here is a nooooo shitter…”

  28. Drumwaster Says:
    April 18th, 2008

    Trying to keep things PG-rated, but this is your home, not mine.

    (And do call me “Drum”, won’t you please? :-) )

    BTW, any chance that we ever served together? I’ve served on both coasts (Norfolk/Oceana/Dam Neck, Jacksonville, New Orleans, San Diego, Mountain View (CA), Whidbey Island (WA)), but I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve met.

  29. Ted Bronson Says:
    April 18th, 2008

    Drum: I served from 87 to 94, San Diego for boot, Dam Neck for “A”, then the Kennedy, several detached duties, and finally Lant HQ.With a few extra training gigs thrown in for funsies.

  30. Drumwaster Says:
    April 18th, 2008

    I was in from ’85-’95 – Great Lakes for RTC, Dam Neck for OS-”A” School (graduated November 85), went to Pinecastle EW Range (the bombing range about halfway between Ocala and Daytona), then to the Boone and the Stark (both Perry FFGs) in Mayport and New Orleans, re-upped and moved to a Spru-can out of San Diego (including a cruise starting literally 5 days before Saddam invaded Kuwait), then finally the ASW Ops Center for COMPATWING Ten out of Moffett Field, then moved to NAS Whidbey Island when Moffett was closed in late 93.

    Got an NEC of 0334 while I was in San Diego, plus all of the ancillary quals everyone got.

  31. words twice Says:
    April 19th, 2008

    Nice to see all the sea service vets here. I was in the Marines.

    …it took an act of God to get the paperwork synched.

    If I had a dime for every time the 01 types screwed up my paperwork, I would be typing from my own private tropical island right now.

    I think Morgan pretty much nailed it. None of the administrative types really put too much thought into their jobs, they have a stack of paper on their desk and you are just a number to them.

    They are used to an established procedure and anything that deviates from the routine totally derails their whole process.

    More often than not, they will act like they are doing you a huge favor by merely doing their jobs.

    I quickly learned that it really did pay off to become friendly with the desk jockeys in the S1 shops. Once the paperwork went further up the chain of command, it was usually beyond my ability to influence the outcome of any administrative affairs (although some carefully placed phone calls or emails sometimes helped).

    I’m glad things worked out for Specialist Hubbard. Too bad it took a Congressman to get it fixed, though.

  32. Drumwaster Says:
    April 19th, 2008

    I was in the Marines.

    Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat. — “Jay” R. Stark, RADM, USN; 10 November 1995

    The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps! — Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945


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