Monday, January 30, 2012

In 1946, Congress created the Board for Correction of Naval Records as a means for Sailors and Marines to correct injustices in their military records, which impact future jobs and retirement benefits.

In November, nearly 3,000 Sailors, who were still under contract with the United States Navy, were informed that their services were no longer required by their country - more precisely by the organization/corporation acting on behalf of their country. These sailors are still in shock over the news from the Enlistment Retention Board and the stigma attached with the perception that something was wrong with their performance. Despite recent re-enlistments, many sailors with 7 to 15 years of service will be denied the chance to fulfill their dreams of a career in the Navy. Many will be denied the option to serve out their current contracts. They are simply being "let go" or downsized.

Many sailors have stated they do not fit the stated criteria outlined by the ERB. Sailors Against ERB and Navy ERB Sailors are two Facebook pages are dedicated helping sailors and their families not only cope with this decision, but to fight for the right to retire as planned or have their records restored.

Sailors Against ERB urges:
There are THREE things that EVERY ERB sailor must do ASAP!
1. Write both your senators & US Representative.
2. File a BCNR.
3. File an IG grievance.
If you have any questions on how to do any these or if you want a template to get you started on writing your congressmen, write me at
Many news outlets are eager to speak with ERB sailors or their families. Check with your local newspaper or television news anchor to see if there is any interest in covering your story.

  • Why does the Navy no longer need the service of the skilled men and women who have faithfully served their country for at least 7 years? 
  • Why was this method chosen to downsize the Navy, rather than seeking volunteers at any level in the over-manned rates? 
  • Why not allow these sailors the option to retire early? 
  • Where is the money that was being set aside to cover the pensions of these sailors?
  • Why does the Navy not make it clear that those who must leave involuntarily are not trouble-makers or miscreants?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

All these gifts and it's not even my birthday - yet

It's not quite the light at the end of the tunnel, but the Navy has announced it plans to offer voluntary early retirement to certain Sailors who must separate from the military due to the recent decisions of the Enlisted Retention Board (ERB).

The Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) is a temporary program that offers eligible members with 15 to 20 years of active service the option of  voluntary, early retirement at a reduced monthly stipend.

According to the official website of the Navy,
Sailors who will have completed at least 15 years of active service as of Sept. 1, 2012, and who were not selected for retention by the ERB, will be eligible for early retirement benefits under TERA.

Eligible Sailors who desire early retirement under TERA must submit an application. As TERA is not an entitlement, all eligible members must apply to receive benefits, and all applications may not necessarily be approved. Detailed application procedures will be promulgated in a future NAVADMIN. Eligible Sailors who wish to apply for TERA will have their ERB results held in abeyance to facilitate their application for voluntary retirement.

Sailors whose TERA application is approved will be retired voluntarily no later than Sept. 1, 2012, and will not be entitled to involuntary separation pay (ISP). However, Sailors will remain qualified for enhanced ERB transition benefits until their retirement date.
This news won't brighten the days of those sailors with 14 years, 11 months and 29 days of service, but it is potentially good news for those who have served one day longer.

There is more information about the Enlisted Retention Board, visit the ERB site or call 1-866-U-ASK-NPC. 

On another note, Congress has dropped SOPA and PIPA - for now. Thirteen million Americans chose Jan. 18 to tell their elected officials to protect free speech rights on the Internet, while the world watched. Major sites were blacked out and we learned how much we might be missing if legislation passed that would, in effect, censor much of what we have come to expect from our Internet over the past 10 years or more.

This unprecedented grassroots activism may have changed the way people fight for the public interest and basic rights.

Two of my three elected officials responded to my emailed concern.
One told me, among other things:
I, and many others, have some very serious and legitimate concerns about SOPA, the way it is written, and its broad implications. Intended or not, the implications of SOPA as it was introduced in the House can be far beyond what its advocates say is the intent. SOPA needs to be subject to extensive Congressional hearings so that all of its implications can be fully understood by everyone. This is a perfect example of why legislation should not be rushed through Congress. . . .

SOPA was introduced out of a concern that an increasing number of overseas-based websites are selling or making available pirated intellectual property, which is a violation of U.S. intellectual property laws. There are already processes in place to handle U.S. based websites that violate intellectual property rights. But if these websites are operating overseas, U.S. individuals and companies who are having their property stolen and misused do not have judicial recourse to shut them down or force them to pay back the profits they've made off of the stolen property. Movies are one example of property that is often stolen and then streamed from an overseas location. I think we need to continue to look at how this concern might be addressed, but SOPA as introduced in the House went far beyond addressing that issue and created a host of problems, even for inadvertent violations.
The other wrote:
As you may be aware, on May 12, 2011, Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) introduced the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP/ PIPA, S. 968), which is meant to curb the online theft of intellectual property, much of which is occurring through rogue websites overseas in China. As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs. It was with this in mind that I was previously a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act. I believe it's important to protect American ingenuity, ideas and jobs from being stolen through Internet piracy. However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and can promote new technologies.
Last summer, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill unanimously and without controversy. Since then, I've heard from a number of Floridians who have raised legitimate concerns about the impact this bill could have on Internet access, as well as a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's authority to impact the Internet. Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.
Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my support for the PROTECT IP Act. Furthermore, I have encouraged Majority Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet. Please know that I will remain mindful of your concerns should this, or similar legislation, such as the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA, H.R. 3261), come before the Senate for consideration.
Maybe someone really is paying attention.
My final gift (for this week) arrives tomorrow in the form of  the online debut of Fragile House.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sailors and the Internet

When my son first joined the Navy, we communicated through postal mail and phone calls throughout bootcamp, A-school and his first cruise. Over time, we have come to rely on the near-instant communication through email and more recently, I could see photos of his ship and shipmates while they were on deployment - thanks to Facebook.

I like the Internet for many other reasons, so when I learned about SOPA and PIPA, I knew I had to take action.

Tonight, I signed another online petition, this one is on Google and addresses two bills before Congress. 

Google, Wikipedia and other sites, as well as individuals have chosen to black out their sites for a day. Fight for the Future is the largest online protest in the history of the Internet.

According to Google:

Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

I copied this and sent it to my elected officials:

Fighting online piracy is important. The most effective way to shut down pirate websites is through targeted legislation that cuts off their funding. There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs.

Too much is at stake – please vote NO on PIPA and SOPA

Here is where I found the email addresses for my representatives and senators.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Do you think online petitions don't work?

In 2007 Snopes debunked the idea that online petitions were worth the time it took to forward an email.

A misdirected petition is of no more use than an undirected one - though the voices it contains may be shouting, they won't be heard.
According to, the average e-petition isn't worth the pixels used to create it, but stated the popularity of online petitions comes from the instant sense of relief for people who otherwise feel helpless to impact the world or its policy makers.

A popular online petition site is It addresses concerns about the validity and potency of online petitions this way:
...what if you started to receive emails from each of your neighbors asking you to mow your lawn more often? Or, what if your company received thousands of emails from valued customers asking you to use a different supplier for your parts? How quickly would you act? That’s the unique thing about creating an online petition on when you specify an email address for your target, each time a supporter signs your petition, an email is automatically sent directly to that person. Governments, companies and individuals value their reputations and feel accountable to their neighbors, constituents and customers. When hundreds or even thousands of emails arrive in their inboxes, the message is very hard to ignore. states:
Online petitions can be a very effective way of gathering support for a cause you care about and drawing attention to that cause. Many of our petition hosts have gathered tens and even hundreds of thousands of signatures on their petitions—petition recipients have had to stand up and take notice! To be truly effective in creating change, however, you need to be actively involved in promoting your petition.
Both sites emphasize the need for the petitioner to move beyond creating the document. If the petition is not promoted and promoted and promoted, it truly is worth no more than the pixels from which it came. Email, social networks and word of mouth are all necessary to make a petition take precedence when the emails do reach the inbox of the person working on behalf of the organization targeted for action. The sites also stress the importance of reaching out to officials through personal emails and even postal mail - yes, the old fashioned kind of mail that is written on paper and sent through the USPS inside an envelope, paid for with a postage stamp. Phone calls are also effective. If you wish to reach someone and draw attention to your concern, don't stop until you have exhausted all of your options.

The beauty of online petitions is that sometimes, the media picks up on these issues and runs a story. Sometimes, the media runs a story that leads to the petition. Often, if the issue affects enough people, these events run simultaneously.

Such is the case with the United States Navy and its enlisted personnel. Media knows, the sailors know and now, thanks to online petitioning and social networking, many more civilians know that during the final months of 2011,  two enlisted retention boards evaluated nearly 15,386 sailors ranked E-4 through E-8, who have served between seven and 15 years in 31 overmanned ratings. The week after Thanksgiving, 2,947 sailors learned they will be involuntarily separated from the Navy on Sept. 1, 2012.

Some have resigned themselves to finishing out their broken contracts, but many are outraged. They had planned their lives around retiring from the Navy after serving 20 years. Some bought homes after their most recent re-enlistments, certain they would retire and settle down in their current locations and expecting to receive military pensions and continued benefits for life. Instead, during the height of the holiday season, they discovered they have until the end of August to adjust to the idea of being a civilian , through the summer to attend classes and transition to a new way of life - and look for employment.

Sailors Against ERB is a Facebook community page that decided to create petitions online at and on the site, hoping to impact the policy makers at what sailors call "Big Navy" and within our government. The group is taking the petitions straight to the Commander in Chief. The group is also encouraging the thousand or so members to share the word, spread the word, and talk the words to their families, friends, colleagues and elected officials. It even has links to the House of Representatives and Congress, as do I in a previous post.

Whether or not you believe in the cause of Sailors Against ERB, whether or not you believe in the power of online petitions and whether or not you decide to sign a petition, I urge you to find that within you that makes you want to take action and do so. Find a cause worth supporting and support it with all your being. Seek out that which brings you joy or riles you. Take steps to spread the joy or soothe the anger. Do something. Let people know where you stand. If you're not sure, come stand beside me. I tend to get things done!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Did Congress Steal Money from the Military Pension Trust Fund?

Sailors whose contracts have been broken, through recent decisions made by the Enlisted Retention Board, voice concerns that the entire process could have been handled differently and that their dismissal is not so much about over-manned jobs but in cutting back on benefits for those veterans who have earned them through years of sacrifice and dedication. 

Most sailors remain anonymous, while voicing their concerns on hundreds of blogs, forums and news outlets.
This ERB process is affecting the morale of everyone in the Navy and all are questioning their roles in the military. It has become painfully clear that this is only about saving on retirement by cutting out those who are intending to continue to make the Navy a career and retire with full benefits.
There may be truth in this. Two years ago, PR Newswire reported:

As of January 1, 2010, the amount of money owed to federal civilian and military pension trust funds passed the $1 trillion mark as Congress continues to loot all of the federal government's trust funds to pay for deficit spending.  More money is now owed by the federal government to these two funds than what is owed to China.

"In the future, little kids in kindergarten and their children will have to repay these funds," stated William H. Fruth, founder of the 10 Amendments for Freedom. "Those responsible for creating this massive, unconscionable debt will be dead and gone, not able to hear the howling curses directed toward them by those who will have to pay in the future," Fruth continued.

For the first three months of the 2010 fiscal year (October, November, and December), Congress borrowed more than $400 billion to pay for its deficits. Of this amount, Congress spent more than $65 billion of the money which is supposed to be in federal government workers' retirement funds.

A trust fund is like a savings account. Money is deposited into the fund to be spent another day, when it is needed. The Social Security Trust Fund is the best-known. However, Congress has spent all of the savings in all of its trust funds.

As of January 1, 2010, Congress had "borrowed" $295,792,000,000 from the Military Retirement Trust Fund. That's almost Three Hundred Billion. Imagine how much is missing two years later. At that time the Total National Debt was more than $12 Trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury.

According to the PR Newswire report, dated Feb 16, 2010:
Each month federal workers and the federal government make a deposit into retirement funds which are to be drawn upon when workers retire. However, Congress has spent all of the money in the Federal Civilian and Military Retirement Funds to pay for deficits. More than $1 trillion is now owed to just these two funds...
The 10 Amendments for Freedom is a movement to add ten specific amendments to the Constitution by way of an Article V. convention. Amendment One, Balanced Budget, will prevent Congress from spending the money in its funds and trusts.

For more information regarding the 10 Amendments for Freedom, go to
According to NBC Sports:
...the Colts owe Peyton Manning another $28 million in early 2012.  Last month, Peter King pointed out during Football Night In America that the money comes due before the start of the 2012 league year.

That’s significant because it means that the Colts can’t trade Manning to a new team before the payment comes due. But that hasn’t completely put to rest speculation that the Colts will pay Peyton and then, once the league year begins, attempt to trade him.  Bob Kravitz’s latest item on the situation should completely put that speculation to rest.
I mention this, because this seems similar to what the Navy may be doing. It seems the Navy is replacing experienced, skilled, career-minded Navy personnel with younger, unproven sailors who have not yet shown their leadership qualities.

The article continues:
Kravitz, who covers the Colts for the Indianapolis Star, points out that, if the Colts pay Peyton and then trade him, the Colts will absorb a 2012 salary cap charge of $38.8 million.  And if the Colts trade Peyton Manning in 2013, the cap charge would drop to only $28.8 million.

Absent a willingness by Peyton to move the due date of his payment, a trade becomes impossible.  Thus, if Peyton tells the Colts “my contract is my contract,” they’ll have to cut him, or they’ll have to keep him for at least two more seasons. Although Peyton adroitly has avoided any discussion regarding the future, plans undoubtedly are being made.  There’s a good chance that the final plan already has been crafted, and that the only thing left to do is implement it.

If that’s the case, Archie Manning’s comments from Tuesday become even more significant.  Given that Archie caucused with Oliver Luck the night before Archie told FOX Sports Radio that he “doubts” Peyton and Andrew Luck want to be on the same team, it’s safe to assume that Oliver agrees with that sentiment.
 If you search online for “Navy ERB” you will find many forums where you can read the angst and anger from sailors and their families. Some of these sites were set up by Navy officials as a way to gauge the atmosphere of the personnel affected by the decision to downsize the Navy. They provide many statements, but few answers to sailors' questions, primarily "Why me?" and "Why not that other guy?"

You will find news reports attempting to link one sailor’s suicide with the news that he had been “let go,” and you will find two petitions requesting signatures due by Jan. 17, 2012 requesting our nation's Commander in Chief review the ERB process.

Linked directly to the White House, this petition is extremely time sensitive and vital to show support to our active-duty sailors. The petition on is also provided by Sailors Against ERB, a site on Facebook that offers support and an outlet for the families and sailors who are grappling with a forced life change.

Sailors Against ERB was created to contact sailors affected by the ERB. The information states:
These sailors have held up their end up the contract and the government needs to do the same. These sailors need to have a voice and hopefully if it is loud enough, they will be heard!
Anyone wishing to write their Representatives  can find them here and those wishing to write their Senators can do so by clicking the link.

Time is of the essence. Be brief. Copy and paste, if you'd like:

I urge you to consider a review of the Navy's Enlistment Retention Board's recent decision to dismiss 2,947 sailors in a breach of contract that, were it reversed, could end in disciplinary action toward the enlisted personnel. Perhaps a more egalitarian process would involve requesting volunteers who want to separate with a severance package, ending new recruits in the over-manned areas, allowing sailors to cross-rate and granting retirement benefits to those sailors who have served and sacrificed for our country. Many sailors who have been dismissed are decorated veterans who, were they allowed to serve out the remainder of their contracts, would retire from the Navy they love. Who will lead the new recruits if not these old salts?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Would they do this to Tebow?

According to a petition to The White House:

The US Navy created an Enlisted Retention Board (ERB) in response to military downsizing. ERB reviewed service records of 15,386 sailors in "overmanned" rates with 7-15 years served and made decisions to involuntarily separate 2,947. These sailors need the respect they deserve and their contracts upheld by the government. Before involuntarily separating sailors the Navy should ask for volunteers who want to separate with a severance package, stop recruiting new sailors and let sailors cross-rate before breaching contracts with mid-career sailors.The severance package for the sailors is based on time served and doesn't include the time on remaining contract. Worst case, let them complete the remainder of their contract and early retire them so they can receive the benefits they earned.

 Sailors and their families are outraged. Please sign the petition ( to show your support for our military.

What the Navy is doing would be like hearing the Broncos tore up Tim Tebow's contract because there was another player they could hire for less with the promise of taking over Tebow's position. It's just not right!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Navy's Quota-Based Enlisted Retention Board

Navy parents, spouses and friends do not like what is happening with our sailors who are affected by the Quota-Based Enlisted Retention Board. It hurts when dreams are dashed and plans are thwarted by down-sizing, regardless of the organization making the changes.

When our loved ones joined the Navy, their families also joined. We felt their pre-deployment jitters and even though we couldn't go with them, we felt every day of every deployment as keenly as they. While our family members were securing the seas, preparing for war and planning for peace, those left at home assumed their domestic duties. They sacrificed comfort and convenience; we sacrificed our time with those we cared most about. No longer able to discuss family matters or share jokes, we did what we could to "hold down our forts" without our helpmates.

Even Navy moms and dads felt a sense of loss with deployments. Parents have always suffered when their children struggled. The tears of our offspring stain our hearts, if  not our faces. As berthing and barracks filled with our sons and daughters, our nests emptied. Proud that our sailors were serving our country and protecting our rights, we lived vicariously through their journeys and we ached for them, when their careers adversely affected their relationships, sleep habits or living arrangements.

It's natural for the families of those sailors who have been involuntarily separated from the United States Navy to be outraged.

According to the Bureau of Naval Personell:

The document states that personnel chosen for early separation are encouraged to apply for conversion to an undermanned rating.

 These sailors are also encouraged to "affiliate with the Navy Reserve," according to the document; this is little relief to those sailors who joined the Navy with plans to retire with benefits after 20 years.


This knowledge is of little comfort to the families of sailors who will now have to join the hundreds of thousands of other unemployed people in a world of jobs that have already scaled back and are working skeletal crews.

Best wishes to the sailors who have served faithfully, expecting to retire in a few years. You do have experience and skills to offer employees that many other candidates might not possess. Stay strong!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sailors Deserve Better!

People join the military for many reasons. Some join for a sense of family; others, for a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. They have said they wanted experience, while some hoped to travel. Expectant young fathers have wrestled for years over which is most important: marriage vows or military oaths. Years ago, the military was an option for troubled young men told by families or authorities they needed discipline. For generations, people have run to the service to get away from something, searching for something.

My father was drafted into service at the height of World War II and served a single four-year term. He had no interest in making the Army Air Corps his career. Fortunate that he never had to serve in the trenches, he felt he could provide for his family better as a civilian.

A little more than twenty years later, the United States Marine Corps drafted my oldest brother, who went from Parris Island to Vietnam. He finished his second term in North Carolina, then decided he didn't want to reenlist.

My youngest brother, who was born nineteen years after the Marine * yes, my parents populated the entire boomer generation* enlisted into the National Guard before deciding to make the military his way of life. He joined the Navy full time and retired after twenty years. My sister's husband also retired from the Navy. Numerous cousins also retired from military careers.

The next generation in my family has its share of military personnel, covering nearly every branch. Enlisting into service, they swore oaths and signed documents promising and expecting certain things from the contract. Sailors, as all military personnel, make many sacrifices and their families sacrifice much, to support their sailors. In November, more than 15,000 sailors and their families are outraged when they learned from the Enlisted Retention Board that they are being "involuntarily separated from the United States Navy."

Emily Anelli, a Proud Navy Wife insists It's not over for her sailor. She asks,
Why is it 2,947 sailors serving more than 7 and less than 15 years are suddenly being pushed out?
She's not the first Navy Wife to complain that her husband, halfway to retirement, is being denied that for which he has dutifully and faithfully sacrificed and proudly served.

I agree with Mrs. Anelli when she pleads:
It is only fair to let the 2,947 sailors finish their contracts. Honor the benefits they have worked so hard for, respect the work they have done and uphold the contract between the government and these sailors.
Mrs. Anelli states that her husband was approved for reenlistment December 2010 with a ceremony in January 2011. A year later, he learned that his service is no longer required. What changed? Why is it that the government suddenly finds him redundant? Why not allow him to complete his contract? If he had decided to opt out of his end of the contract he might be considered AWOL.

Can't we hold the government to the same standards to which it expects its personnel?  If the military chooses to dismiss members in the same way a corporation might dismiss employees during a downsize, what recourse do those members have when a contract is broken?

Our sailors deserve better. Let those who want to retire, do so. Give them their benefits, not a severance slip.
I find it interesting that this post is still the most viewed post of all time. In the two months my site has been active, my post about Guy Birenbaum's video has been viewed and linked to, more than any other post. Thanks for sharing!