Tag Archives: U.S. Military

Thank god military tuition assistance is safe … meanwhile in Afghanistan.

I don’t know if you’ve been following the recent issue with the Department of Defenses’ decision (since overturned by congress) to possibly suspend service member’s tuition assistance.

If you haven’t, here is a synopsis provided by a guy who has had a few beers.

The government told the Department of Defense to cut XXX-percent of its budget and the DOD made plans to cut that percent. One of things that the DOD decided to cut was “free college,” or in more recognizable terms, tuition assistance.

After that decision was made a lot of service members lost their minds and cried.


Look, who wouldn’t want more free money? (Photo credit: Tddy)

They cried a lot. They cried on Facebook. They cried on Twitter. They cried on the internet in general. They cried to the media and they cried to their elected officials. Their tears were so great that the decision was reversed and their collective cheeks were dried with soft, fluffy tuition-assistance dollars.

So in its place, something else was cut. It was training. Training dollars in the U.S. Military have gone to shit.  If you weren’t deploying in support of Afghanistan (or even if you were – read on!) we have left our military with enough training funds to draw shit on a dry-erase board and call it training.

While those service members safe at home protested the cutting of tuition assistance, those same monetary worries might actually force their comrades-in-arms to remain in theater past their scheduled redeployment date.

To be clear, according to the Washington Post, “Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, recently warned that the cuts may curtail training for 80 percent of ground forces, including some in the deployment pipeline, forcing him to extend the deployments of troops already in Afghanistan.”

Did you get that?

“Forcing him to extend the deployments of troops already in Afghanistan,” remains an option, but because “Sgt. Smith” yelled loudly enough that tuition assistance became the news story of the day.

Where was the outcry for slashing the training budget?  Where was the Facebook rage at that possibility?

There was none. The very service members who should have heard that and offered up their tuition assistance as a way to offset training costs, remained oddly silent.

“Hey, I got mine,” right?

Overnight, the training budget went from fully funded to I’ll pay you tomorrow for a hit off the crack pipe today. Instead of training on how to be a military, the training dollars just fucking left the building and no one noticed.

Much like the National Guard Cpl. (and convicted criminal) Jesse Thorsen who intentionally wore his uniform to a political rally, some of today’s military members have to remember it’s not about them individually, it’s about the unit as a whole.  Readiness really doesn’t suffer when school funds dry up. But when there aren’t enough funds to buy bullets for the rifle range, it’s a real fucking problem.

I retired from active duty service in 2009. I served a tour in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. I remember the lean days of military funding during the ’90s and recall that money tends to fall from the sky when the military is at war, but is a scares commodity in times of peace.

That’s as it should be. If the nation as a whole is asking its service members to serve in harm’s way then the nation has an obligation to ensure that every resource is spent making certain service members are safe, well supplied and well trained.

To my mind, tuition assistance is nice, but it doesn’t really fall into any of those aforementioned categories. College classes are nice, but they do little to ensure you and your battle buddy come home safe from a war zone.

In times of peace, the nation, rightfully, expects the budget of the U.S. Military to shrink.

I’m not saying that the federal gun to the military’s head demand that they “lose

A Headquarters and Headquarters Troop , 6th Sq...

What do you mean we’re out of bullets? (Photo credit: U.S. Army)

$46 billion dollars,” right now, is the best way to go about reducing defense spending. I am saying that these cuts were visible on September 12, 2001.   Anyone who thought the spending could go on, and on, and on just wasn’t paying attention.

Tuition assistance is exactly one of the first things you cut when faced with  budgetary reductions during a war and attempting to prepare for tomorrow’s fight. Tuition Assistance is a ‘nice to have’ benefit, but it’s in no way an entitlement. An entitlement is decent body armor, a weapon your trained to shoot or a medic who knows what the hell they’re doing.  Those my friends are entitlements.

I know, I know.  Tuition assistance only costs the military $300-400 million and that’s a percentage of $43 billion that someone who is good at math will have to tell us. I’d counter with — that money is coming out of somewhere else now that your bachelor-degree funding is secured.

That cash would buy a lot of bullets for a rifle range, pay for a lot of fuel during a training exercise, fund a lot of medic training, and in short, save lives the next time we ask you to go into harm’s way.

But degrees are important too …

Baggers, not a race of little people living in the potato aisle … sadly

It's really hard to find a free for use image that features boobs and beer in reference to shopping ... YOU try it.

It’s really hard to find a free for use image that features boobs and beer in reference to shopping … YOU try it.

A commissary, for those that are unfamiliar, is a grocery store that serves U.S. Military, family members, retirees and, when overseas, Department of Defense employees. It sells food and goods at a bit above cost in order to pay its employees, fund new commissaries and for general operating costs. Sometimes the item in question is cheaper at the commissary (no tax) than it is on the economy sometimes it’s not.

Generally all commissaries have one thing in common, they’re convenient as they’re close to where we work.

They’re just like your local supermarket though. They’re designed in such a way as to make you walk past all the ‘snack stuff’ to get to the healthy stuff, they play crappy music from the ‘90s and they have annoying announcements, “mayonnaise spill on aisle five, at least I HOPE that’s mayonnaise.” You also lose your cell phone signal in the back of the store which is a good thing for all my facebook friends. Otherwise, about once a week, I’d have an update from the ‘personal hygiene aisle’ with a photo of a pack of magnums and a ‘heheheh condoms’ as the comment.

As many of you are married you know that grocery shopping can occur in three different ways. From best to worst they are: She goes alone, I go alone, we both go and I end up losing my mind ½ an hour into it.

You see when she announces she’s going grocery shopping I do a little dance. I DO, cause I’m about to get an hour or two of free time to look at porn work on this blog and then, as if a friggin wizard just used magic, a crap ton of cool stuff will show up at the house magically later in the day. I didn’t KNOW I wanted chocolate covered fruit loops but damn these do look good! Wow a new shower squeegee, awesome! Yes more charcoal is always welcome, thank you kind wizard, thank you!

She can leave the house with ONE item on the list and return home magically with a car that’s FULL of stuff.

Taking a photo is better than having to return anything ....

Taking a photo is better than having to return anything ….

The second way, in which I do the shopping, is kind of fun (for VERY small quantities of fun). I sort of enjoy looking at the list and thinking what’s the fastest way to get all of these items into the basket so I can hurry up and get back to beer? If it’s a strange item hell I take a photo of it at home before I depart. The mysteries of the ‘woman’s burden’ remain a mystery (thank god) but I know exactly what aisle said woman’s hygiene product is located.

It’s about speed, it’s about getting into the store and getting out, “no time to talk casual coworker I must secure a package of ‘organic crap muffins’ and escape this evil lair before the good beer queen forsakes me!”

No one’s going to get drunk and post grammatically incorrect and largely inappropriate rants on my facebook feed for me you know!

Pro tip for husbands that cannot locate that special package of Guatemalan cheese flavored hair balls the wife wants for her salad, ask ANY woman in the store.   All women, above the age of 18, have committed to memory the location of every item in every grocery store ever.   Weird but true.  “You need what young man?  Cherry flavored puss cream, oh that’s on aisle seven, towards the end, bottom shelf.”

The commissary and any grocery store could do a lot to make the third option better (namely, instituting a no men allowed policy but baring that at least they could serve beer) but as you already know the worst option is when we both go grocery shopping.  See, as it turns out, there is no wizard that magically fills the wife’s car with goodies, she does it herself. She does it not by making her run through the commissary a timed olympic style event where seconds count but by, and get this, going down every aisle. Yeah everyone, even that aisle filled with yucky crap, she totally goes down it.

Somehow, and maybe magic is involved after all, by staring at a bottle of creamed yams baby food she remembers that we’re out of ice cream … the mysteries of the female mind aye?

It’s during these trips that I become the cheap labor. I push the cart of course, load the heavy crap into the cart and become the runner.

Her: Honey, we’re about to reach the last aisle I know but I forgot something near the entrance, can you run back and get it?

Me: Umm sure, what is it?

Her: 5 cases of bottled water, the big bottles, not the little ones.

Me: Crap, umm yeah I can do that, can I use the cart?

Her: No, sorry I need it to hold the shopping list. Also can you take this 5 gallon can of cat litter with you while you get the water?

Me: Why can’t it just stay in the cart? That thing’s super heavy.

Her: You really don’t understand shopping at all do you?

So yeah I’m convinced grocery stores need a bar. Maybe they could offer a service like they do on the golf course where some cute girl drives up in a beer-cart and sells you and your buddies a cold one. That would really hit the spot as we round the dog food aisle and contemplate which brand of paper towels we need.

“Yes, yes ma’am! Here please, two coronas! You’re out of lime? That’s okay I picked them up back in the produce section … five for a dollar you know! Honey (as we clink our beers near the bacon selection) I love grocery shopping god damn it! This is awesome, we need to do this shit more often!”

Another, key difference between grocery stores and commissaries are the baggers. Baggers, which oddly aren’t a family of hobbits living somewhere near the potatos, are a collection of people that bag groceries at the commissary and then carry your purchases out to the car for you, all for a tip. No wages involved, strictly tips only. It say’s so right at the end of the cashier’s conveyor belt. There’s a sign there that reads, typically in big bold, underlined, authoritative Times New Roman, size 33, font, BAGGERS WORK FOR TIPS ONLY!

Which I’m pretty sure is code for you, ‘listen you cheap fuck, I’m schlepping your ho-hos and twinkies to your car so your fat ass doesn’t have to, I’d appreciate a few bucks’. I’m sure most people do tip, I do.

Tough, tattooed 19 year old with dreadlocks and a Frisbee through his ear lobe, tip two bucks.

Middle-aged slightly downtrodden looking woman in sensible shoes? Tip three bucks.

Obvious military retired person just doing it for the work?  Tip four bucks.

But everyone once in a while there’s that 20 year old home from college and … HOLY CRAP THAT CHICK IS HOT bagger. The one where if the wife and I are together I make her deal with the tip, cause I guarantee you I’m getting in trouble if I do.

But god help me if I’m alone.

best part of this is I was in and out of the store in like 6 minutes! Sadly we now have to take out a new loan cause the bagger was kinda hot.

Best part of this is I was in and out of the store in like 6 minutes! Sadly we now have to take out a new loan cause the bagger was kinda hot.

Her: Okay sir, and where are you parked?

Me: Girl pretty, make pretty talk with pretty. I like pretty. Boobies!

Her: Umm thanks? Where’s your car?

Me: Car make pretty go home groceries home pretty boobs … wow I kinda lost my shit there didn’t I.

Her: Yeah happens all the time, this your car?

Me: Yeah it is, look here’s seven bucks, let’s never speak of this again.

Her: You bought like four things!

Me: Fine here’s ten bucks.

I hate shopping.