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Respect – how about showing us some?

March 6, 2010
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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

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Kitty permalink
    March 6, 2010 9:26 am

    You know, I was going to sign up for the MyCAA grants but something just kept stopping me. Now on a personal level, I’m really glad I’m not saddled with fees for a course I can’t otherwise afford but while I’m absolutely disgusted with the way that the spouses who have signed up have been treated, I’m not surprised.

    We are still seen as ‘dependants’ by the military. When I had an issue with Tricare sending my medical records to my husband for him to verify because they’d incorrectly entered me into the EFMP program (which I got out of eventually after lots of arguing and a diagnosis being overturned), when I went to legal to ask if they were actually allowed to do that, I was told that legally as an Army dependant I have no more rights than a child!!! What the hell?!

    You know that poem, ‘The Silent Ranks’? That really makes me angry because it promotes an ideal that just suits the military down to the ground. If we stay silent about how crappy we are treated or how our rights are ignored then there’s no problem, right? No outcry. Every program I’ve seen for helping the military is always centred around the soldier or the kids. We’re just supposed to get on with it in heroic silence – after all, how could any of this be hard for us, huh? We should be happy with the healthcare benefits that being married to a soldier affords us, right? Never mind the fact that most of us have sacrificed so much to be with and support our service member!

    If something goes wrong, we’re blamed – obviously the marriage wasn’t strong enough or his/her spouse supportive enough to stop him/her from eating a bullet….I’ve heard all of the above when it comes to suicide cases.

    And then there’s the folks that think that we’re just money grabbing whores that just married into the military for benefits and that as soon as our spouses get on those planes downrange, we’re off to the bars to go cheat. Nice. Real nice. We don’t really feel broken apart, cry ourselves to sleep afraid, pick ourselves up and try to put on a brave face.

    Sorry, that was a hell of a rant. It obviously wasn’t aimed at you, I was just sharing my anger at the milspouse situation.

    Did you ever read some of the comments from service members on Military.com about MyCAA being suspended?

    • LAW permalink
      March 6, 2010 2:14 pm

      I don’t usually read those comments – I can’t handle the high blood pressure! and I’m happy you felt comfortable enough to say all that. that’s what we are here for. Rant away!!!

      LAW

      • Kitty permalink
        March 7, 2010 5:08 am

        LOL I have no problem opening my mouth! It gets me into quite a bit of trouble usually but some things just need to be said and the sooner we wives stop applying that whole ‘culture of silence’ thing to everything and stand up for ourselves the better!

        You also have a fantastic blog and a great writing style :). I was considering starting a milspouse blog but I worry that anything I come up with would just end up being some crazy huge bitchfest about the Army LOL. It isn’t all bad but it just seems like that’s when I’m most…inspired to write.

        • LAW permalink
          March 7, 2010 6:42 am

          Oh -go right ahead and start one. It’s a great stress release, and turns into a great way to remember what you were doing when. and you’ll also discover some of the good stuff. yeah, the Army can make you totally crazy, but I’m still awfully proud of being an Army Wife.

        • March 9, 2010 4:39 pm

          I’m with LAW on this one — I’ve been writing on mine for about two years now, and it is a HUGE stress reliever. There is PLENTY to bitch about, but you’ll also find a great support group of people who understand exactly what you’re going through.

          PS I loved your rant 🙂 Well done! Ha!

  2. Kitty permalink
    March 11, 2010 2:00 pm

    So I took the advice you ladies gave about blogs and started one.

    http://theadventuresofkittyenglish.blogspot.com

    It’s probably going to be lots of rants lol, I seem to excel at ranting for some reason. Must be the army life lol.

    Thank you for the encouragement 🙂 .

  3. March 12, 2010 9:06 am

    So I took your advice and started a blog ladies!

    http://theadventuresofkittyenglish.blogspot.com/

    I’m enjoying it so far 🙂 Thanks for the advice and encouragement!

  4. LAW permalink
    March 12, 2010 9:23 am

    I went over there, but I can’t seem to be able to comment! but I wanted to say welcome to the world of the Blogosphere. it’s crazy, fun but be prepared for the trolls as well.

    LAW

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