If It’s Their Fault, Why Are We the Ones in Trouble?

OK, so I don’t normally like to post anything against the Army directly – albeit not everything is the exact same as it is in life outside (all the negative stuff), but you’re going to dislike certain things about life and careers, etc., no matter where you are.  But this is just absolutely ridiculous, and yes, it’s because of the Army, government, military…what have you.

You pretty much learn real quick that in the military, you learn things as you need to know them.  Information isn’t really “handed” to you.  You have to experience to learn, or you are informed last-minute.  For people like myself and my husband, knowing information that is beneficial to us beforehand is super important, and appreciated.

Like, when you’re “in trouble,” but not really, because it’s not YOUR fault, but you’re the one who has to pay, literally.

Take for example, what happened to us today.  My husband called Sergeants in his company for unrelated information for the purpose of this blog, to find more information about the Tuff Box is was to have filled, labeled, and cataloged by this evening.  Because, they told him Monday he had to have this done by Friday, but not really Friday, but Thursday night.  Everyone forgets he has never deployed before, so he wouldn’t automatically have a Tuff Box, nor know what to do with it or put in it.  And, things being what they are, he was never issued one.  So, Tuesday, he receives his box, with two days, kinda, to think about what to put in it, catalog it, and mark his box.  Pretty much most of this was done on our own using resources we had, as there was no direction from his commanding line.  Great.  But more to the topic.  He called to get SOME information on the Tuff Box, but was then told he has to come in early today for a meeting with the Company Commander, because he is “in debt to the Army.”

What.the.f*ck?

Seriously?  I’m the one who manages our finances, banking accounts, makes sure our bill payments are made on time, and I know we are not behind or defunct on anything.  If we were, if there was a payment I missed, I am sure I would have received notification from whatever company I owed.  We had no one hassling us for money.  So it had to be an Army payment mistake.  Right?  Since everything else is ruled out.  So I start pulling up his LES statements.  And there it is.  Well, the Army owes US $89.00 for a deduction they made for a Meal Plan payment, before the paperwork of our marriage was processed.  That never came back on the next month’s LES.  But of course, that’s NOT what they caught, and otherwise would probably never have, or never of mentioned it.  But no.  Because my husband has been bounced around companies because his original company has no mission and is tasked out, his pay has changed.  And we know the paperwork went through, at least in one program, to terminate SDAP.  But that was never stopped.  So we owe back three months.

Doing some research, it turns out the Army/Government has quite a problem with this.  They have incompatible programs, where a user can make the appropriate pay changes in one program, but of course it’s not that simple.  This should cause a domino effect where the change is made in all the programs, but it’s like the programs don’t all speak the same language.  It’d be like MAC to PC, or English to Mandarin, etc.  So, needless to say, SDAP was never terminated, like it should have been, by the time payroll rolled around.  For three months.  But, in my research, found that the Government tried to collect on THEIR programming errors from injured and wounded soldiers, from soldiers killed in combat, and so on, for deployment-pay errors and more.  Seriously?

It’s THEIR fault for the pay mistakes.  It’s THEIR programming.  And of course, if the error is in THEIR favor, they aren’t going to mention it.

No disrespect to anyone who serves, but this is seriously like a slap in the face to all those who choose to enlist, to all their families who have to struggle along with them, and make the same sacrifices.  Because they have faulty programming, are well aware of it but somehow aren’t making the changes necessary, soldiers – regardless of rank, deployment status, overall well-being (non-injury or wounded), or even living or dead, have to pay back what money should have been theirs to begin with.  It’s no secret, at least not anymore since I don’t think I’ve shared this tidbit with you, but that I believe that all service members are severely underpaid.  When you break it down to hourly pay – whether it’s a 40, 60, or 168 hour work week, soldiers make below minimum wage on a day-to-day basis.  Sure, full medical is included, but for the lives that service members live, with the stress level that doesn’t necessarily come with other jobs, the risk, and being torn away from their families for months up to a year or more at a time, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

I am just really frustrated right now: That we’re being treated like somehow it’s our fault, even though we made sure the paperwork went through where it was supposed to.  And to even get any answers is like trying to convince Michael Jackson he’s black…or was.  Nothing is easy in the Army.

**Like I said, I mean no disrespect to any service members, I am just a frustrated Army Wife that for a quick moment put my trust in the government to know what it was doing, and to be able to handle its soldiers appropriately, but apparently not.

**Update**

So, it’s what we thought, SDAP was getting paid when it should have been terminated.  Happened to just about everyone in my husband’s company because of some entry error.  I have since been able to calm down – pre-deployment stress, a task of packing a Tuff Box sprung on us, on top of an unknown, mysterious “debt”, and I don’t handle everything all too calmly.  So, yes, I understand the Army, as any company, would need it’s money back if it’s been falsely paid out.  (The whole fiasco with Maine Care health insurance comes to mind – if you’ve worked in a doctor’s office who accepts/ed MaineCare/Medicade, you likely know what I am referring to; but the gist of it is that doctor’s offices weren’t getting reimbursed from MaineCare/Medicade because of something THEY were going through – either entry errors or programming faults, or they were claiming they overpaid the doctors and wanted money back).  But all that aside, yes, I understand, you want your money back.  I just wish there was the same urgency when it came to NOT correctly paying soldiers.  But more-so, it would have been nice if either this kind of thing were caught earlier on, instead of 3 months out (isn’t there some kind of checks & balances set up?), or if/when this kind of thing does happen, it’s not mentioned to a soldier spur-of-the-moment in a hastily-done manner, pre-deployment.  Not good for the soldier’s or family’s moral.  Seriously.

And on a side-note, why do they say they are going to “garnish” your wages if they are deducting money?  Isn’t a garnish an addition to an entree, to add color, flavor, or just aesthetic appeal?  When I hear “garnish”, I think of that curly green leaf added to a side of an entree to try to make it look fancier, or the fruit that comes in my cocktails.  How does “garnish” get turned around into something that means “we’re taking this much money away from you,” and it’s by no means pretty?

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