Saturday, March 06, 2010

Respect, can we get some

The MyCAA debacle is the tip of an iceberg that has been floating along for a long long time. The general lack of preparation and disorganization was made worse by a total disregard of the impact of an arbitrary decision made by a group of bureaucrats, and complete lack of respect for the military spouses.

Way back when I first became a military wife (wow, 32 years…) I remember the only semi joking remark from a 1st Sgt – “hey, Spc ____, if we wanted you to have a wife, we’da issued you one”.. Back then, we were supposed to spring out of a big green duffle bag, and be the sweet little helpmeet/wifey.. We were called “dependants” and treated as such, as an inconvenience that the military had to put up with. Then, a few years later, {poof} we were told we were “family members” we were supposedly going to be regarded as partners in military life. [I can hear the snickers now… and the chorus of “yeah …. Right”] We were included in ceremonies and we now hear constantly how much the senior ranks value us, the new “saying” is keep the family happy to keep the soldier happy. All very nice to hear in speeches, pronouncements and proclamations of family days and support before deployment. The reality – well, that’s something else again altogether!

We come to the latest slap in the face, delivered by the DoD - the department for Military Community and Family Policy to be precise. First – the MyCAA program was ended (oh, excuse me... "paused) – with no warning, or notice to any of the spouses that were already IN the program. How did we find out? On Facebook or from the Navy Times, dammit! So, it’s not enough to slap more than 98,000 military spouses already in the program and thousands more within the process by screwing up their schooling, to torpedo the plans that they made – nope, you all needed to make sure you made it a whole lot worse by not actually telling them what was happening. You thought we would just sit there and smile sweetly and say… oh thank you so much… oh bless your heart….

After we stood up and started organizing, started Facebook pages and calling our congress people, after Veterans’ Organizations and some of the family groups demanded answers, after phone calls, articles and TV spots, you finally gave a “statement.” Which says… nothing. You all waffled on about this is a “planned” review… that approved documents would be honored. We get this vacuous muttering:

“Military spouses represent a significant, young, diverse and motivated component of America’s labor force. We recognize that the military lifestyle calls for portable careers and that military spouses need access to education and training for careers that are portable and high-growth nationally. This short-term break will allow us to better assess the program to ensure we are achieving that goal.”



It takes weeks for some of the program recipients to actually get notified, and THIS is what they got


“Dear MyCAA Student: Please be advised that the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program has suspended operations indefinitely. As you’re aware this program has provided active duty military spouses with funding to start or continue their education/ training.... Some services are still accessible, but financial support is on hold. According to the announcement, military spouses who have generated an approved FA form won't be affected*The Department of Defense is doing a top-to-bottom review of the program. To be clear, we are not sure when the program will open again. It could be as early as the Summer 2010 semester, or perhaps, stretch to the Fall 2010 semester. We are certain that some changes to program approval are likely, and in the interim students should be pursuing alternate sources of financial aid (Military One Source [MOS], FAFSA, finaid.org, Post 9-11 transfer of GI Bill benefits, etc).”


*The truth is, that many of our spouses are reporting that their payments are NOT being made to the schools, they are going to have to pay the fees out of pocket, or drop out.

The article in the AF times had this gem:

“Military spouses — who were depending on the program to help pay for classes for which they already had registered — could not be told about the shutdown ahead of time because “given the gravity of the situation, there was no time for a warning,” Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Maj. April Cunningham said.”



In one article – we are told, it’ll be a couple of months. In another, “we aren’t sure” when. We hear it’s because of the computer system, the software, the amount of money, then it’s because there are too many people trying to get it, then it’s a “planned” outage, then it’s an emergency you can’t tell people about…. GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT!

Have the common courtesy to tell us the truth!

Well, y’all… we are not going to put on our little white gloves, and our little pearls and go to the Wives Club meeting and forget the way you treated us. The FaceBook pages are getting more and more members, we clamoured loud enough that 60+ members of congress joined the Congressional Military Family Caucus and sent a letter of protest to the Secretary of Defense, more and more members of congress are holding hearings, getting groups together. If you had treated any other group the way you treated us, you’d be ducking for cover. Well, you might want to check that cover, we aren’t going away. You are going to learn that that level of disrespect will not be forgiven, will not be forgotten.

LAW

xposted at LeftFace

5 comments:

Mary R. said...

Saw a link to your blog in Military Spouse magazine.

Kristy said...

Amen Karen.

Laura said...

wtf.."given the gravity of the situation..." what a ridiculous excuse.

KL Grady said...

Hear, hear. The huzbind told me what he thinks probably happened, based on his experiences at the Pentagon. It's a clusterfuck regardless and absolutely inexcusable. No matter what the excuse, they approached it wrong, handled it worse, and are now on their way to much more than the black eye they were going to have.

I hope we hit 'em where it hurts. This is unfair to the nth.

jexx said...

Also a liberal Army wife, so you are not the only one. :)

We are mobilizing in Western WA, sent our stories to KING-5's coordinating producer Elizabeth Berman and generally making a Big Ol' Stink.

The irony is, last weekend before I learned of this "temporary stoppage", I attended the dreaded Battalion Formal and DID wear my pearls. To be fair, I ended up having a great time, but my husband's unusual antics (he rarely drinks, and ended up doing karaoke and dancing!) are probably the reason.

"Mission: Family" is a joke.