Thursday, January 21, 2016

Retirement on the horizon

Not my retirement, but my sailor son's, looms and now he has begun the dreaded health checks with the VA. I'll never understand why that organization twists veterans the way it does. Rather than being easy to navigate and help the vets, it seems to rejoice in finding new ways to perplex and confound.

Case in point: His first appointment with the VA is in a facility more than 150 mile from where he lives. That appointment is at 8 in the morning. Then he has two more, with the last of the day at 2 in the afternoon. The next morning, he has another appointment nearer his home, then, the next day, more appointments after driving more than 2 hours.

I'm grateful he doesn't have anything "major" wrong with him, at least by their standards.

Monday, November 9, 2015

I recently had the honor and privilege to read a book written by WWII Navy veteran, Henry Scott Harris. I'd been assigned to read and review the book for one of my writing clients and my first thought was, "Oh, no, not another self-published book."

As a whole, self-published authors often forego the need for an editor. Everybody needs an editor. I can find mistakes in best-selling books, but the self-published books' errors often make reading difficult and unpleasant. All Blood Runs Red is the exception. Oh, it has mistakes and I yearned to grab my red pen and dig into them, but the mistakes were minor typos and infrequent.

They did not diminish my reading pleasure of this historical novel at all.

Traces of Harris' naval career showed up when Bullard spoke of keeping his head on a swivel and I chuckled. I appreciated the author's military background as he described the French Legion's equivalent of MEPS.

Harris is all that I admire about the US Navy. He set about to right an injustice. If you thought the Tuskegee Airmen were the first pilots in US military aviation, you're going to want to pick up a copy of All Blood Runs Red.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

At no cost to Taxpayers

This summer, the USS George H.W. Bush underwent maintenance for, among other things, repairs to the faulty Vacuum flush toilet "heads" that had sailors standing in line for hours, doing what some reporters called "the pee pee dance." At no cost to taxpayers, the repairs have been made. Washington Post reporter Al Kamen wrote:
The Navy is working to finally fix a chronic problem that has been bedeviling sailors aboard its newest aircraft carrier — clogged toilets.
Kamen linked to an earlier article by Michael Welles Shapiro of the Daily Press, a Virginia newspaper. Shapiro reported that special anti-snag devices had been installed in the toilet drainage lines that would prevent future clogs. He also reported:
EVAC has not charged the Navy for the work.
EVAC of North America Inc. headquartered in Cherry Valley, Ill. is the company that built the waste management system on the Bush and executed the repairs, which included reconfiguring the system to increase its capacity.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

If I had become a sailor

If I had become a sailor, I might not have been retained by the ERB and I might be facing early dismissal. But, I'm not a sailor. If I had become a sailor, I might have been assigned to the USS George HW Bush's maiden voyage and I would have had to deal with the ship's malfunctioning heads. But, I'm not a sailor. If I had become a sailor, I know I would not have had the freedom to become a HANC for my mother. If you want to know more about what a HANC is, visit 37 Not-necessarily-easy-steps to become a Master HANC

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thoughts from others on the Navy

I thought I'd share the thoughts of some other people who had something to say about sailors and the Navy.
No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned... a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company.
Samuel Johnson
The Ancient Mariner would not have taken so well if it had been called The Old Sailor.
Samuel Butler
The Marine Corps is the Navy's police force and as long as I am President that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin's.
Harry S. Truman

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sailors Against ERB

Sailors Against ERB is a group on Facebook that is trying to help make sense of the early release from contracts for almost 3,000 sailors. Recently, it posed the question:
Is anyone being required by their command to get their Warfare Device? The pin will only help the command numbers, not a sailor being ERB'd out. I know a sailor that has been told if they don't they will receive a bad separation eval. Is this happening to you or someone else you know? I'm sure Captain (Steve) Holmes (director, Military Community Management at Navy Personnel Command) would like to know the commands names....
A Warfare Device is an official insignia that is added to a uniform.

One responder said: Surely you aren't implying that ERB'd sailors should stop meeting requirements of their current job... That only stands to HURT any chances they have to a reversal of the decision to separate them.

Others responded with:

why should anyone getting seperated out really care. the navy is a cooperation not a branch of the military anymore of which is ran by a bunch of idiots. Who really wants to stay at a place that doesn't care about them anymore. We are being punished for be to close to retirement so officers and E-9 can get their full retirement. I will be glad not to be apart of all this crap anymore.
In my command if you don't have it after 18 months of being on Sea Duty then you should get a counseling chit every month there after until you get it, because it's required to challenge other people in the same rank for evals. They haven't said anything about getting a bad eval upon separation. But honestly it didn't help me in my situation when I got ERB'D so I don't see the use of it anymore.
One responder said:
Im Dual qualed and the only E-5 in my division dual qualed and I am getting ERB'd. So I dont see how it helps anyone compete with anyone else. I would still get the pins though because its one of the only things the navy cant take away from you and it looks good on the uniforms.

Another countered with:
Your warfare pins can get taken away. They don't do it much anymore but that is a real kick in the face. COs used to do it at mast instead of busting you down. I don't think anyone getting out this summer should be forced to do anything but prepare to look for other opportunities.

Sailors deployed on the USS George HW Bush have been informed they can be taken to Captain's Mast for relieving themselves in places other than the ship's heads. In Novem1, the heads were locked in an ownership experiment of the few working heads on the aircraft carrier. As soon as the media ran the truth of the story, the cipher locks were reset and sailors were free to use whatever facilities they could find that worked. The world's most modern and most expensive aircraft carrier isn't scheduled to be upgraded until May 2012.

One sailor said:
It is mandatory in the Navy. However, who cares about a bad separation eval? Honestly, most employers have no idea what the stuff on an eval means. This is just poor leadership trying to beef up their numbers. Its all about the FITREPs. Its all about "Equal Opportunity" (ie picking less qualified officer candidates because of gender/race). This is what Big Navy is coming to. The ball can't be stopped from rolling down the hill. I'd tell the Sailor not to get the pin.
The devices cost from $2.55 to $15 apiece.

A sailor who was was told the Enlistment Retention Board had decided to release him or her from the Navy's contract early has placed a positive spin on this.
I'm gonna use my warfare qualifications on my resumes and bring it up during Job interviews. "I have my information dominance and surface pins before i was ERB'd out, so I'm exactly what this company needs"

What the Navy has done to thousands of sailors, many of whom did not deserve it, is similar to what has been done to millions of civilians for many years - the only difference is these sailors are active-duty military. Tax-payers fund the military.

What's next?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ninety-nine percent times three

They don't understand When I was a child, my grandmother said, "Everybody has an opinion. Everybody has an _ _ _ hole, too. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they are only good for the one who has them and usually, they both stink." Many years later, a woman I worked with told me, "A person's perception is ninety-nine percent of reality." A few months ago, I posted another reference to ninety-nine percent, when I quoted someone who stated that ninety-nine percent of our nation's population is protected by the one percent who comprise the military. I have an opinion about some members of the military who have a skewed sense of reality, based on their perception. You see, in November 2011, I started a blog called It's not a Sailor's Life for Me because I wanted to bring attention to conditions aboard the USS George HW Bush on its maiden deployment. As a taxpayer, I was appalled to learn that my son and almost 6,000 other sailors on the United States' most modern aircraft carrier had been enduring more than five months with malfunctioning toilets, or, in military lingo - heads. Like most sailors who had been deployed, he said nothing; he manned-up and dealt with what was much more than a minor inconvenience. For almost half a year, they all dealt with the VCHT that did not vacuum, contain, hold or transfer as the system had been intended. Sadly, the ship had these problems upon delivery. Five months at sea, thousands of man hours attempting to repairjavascript:void(0); and maintain the system and yet, the ordeal continued. As unfortunate as it was that the heads weren't functioning, the sailors received orders that they were only allowed to relieve themselves in the heads - the ones they could find that did work - and if they opted to do otherwise, they could be subject to being called to Captain's Mast. That was when locks were allowed to be placed on the doors to heads that did work. Locks. On the doors to working toilets. On a ship that is larger than many small towns. Locks on doors to heads that only some could access and orders to use only the working heads. Not long after I started my blog, two Virginia newspapers picked up the story and not long thereafter, media outlets worldwide linked to those stories. It's a fact: in the Navy are "boat people" and "squadron people." It's also a fact that my son is one of the squadron people. I get it. They are rivals on the same team, if you can believe it. The boat's company spend much more time on the ship than do the squadron's company. It's almost like having a cousin who comes to visit from time to time, but doesn't live in your home. I get it. I really do. What I don't get, however, is why those who "live" on the ship didn't rejoice when the combinations to the locks were reset to a common default. Would you have your cousin, even the one you don't like much, visit and then lock him out of the one room with working toilets? Instead, they create cartoons meant to insult, leave them on car windshields of squadron members and then say, "You're not going to tell him, are you?" My son sent me the photo, linked above, and said he found it amusing that they are still focused on him, rather than on fixing the toilets. Of course, the ones with the cartoons probably have working toilets. The VHCT system on the ship isn't scheduled to undergo repairs until May. In my opinion, that is far too long for tax payers to support our active military to wait for properly working toilets. My reality, based on my perceptions, is that my blog made a difference - good or bad - it made a difference to at least 1% of 1% of the sailors on board the Bush. The locks were opened and the captain said he will recommend an upgrade. That's all I wanted.