Skip to comments.An unspoken truth in the Army National Guard Special Forces
Posted on 09/19/2019 7:35:18 PM PDT by huldah1776
Army National Guard Special Forces is a unique, often misunderstood component of the military. These units are a well-utilized, effective force, but are threatened by current policy on generating orders and timing of compensation. In turn, families, like mine, are subject to a financial hardship not experienced by the active duty components.
This continued financial strain drives many conversations within the four walls of the home on whether to stay in or get out. It is a dirty little secret in our circle one that is not discussed in public forums, but absolutely must be addressed as it threatens family readiness and troop retention.
Our military life
We have been a National Guard family since 2004. My husband has almost 19 years of active-duty service, with the majority of that time spent in the Guard. There have been many blessings and wonderful people along the way, but the financial struggle imposed by this lifestyle has left a lasting mark on us.
Special Forces operators have a significant time commitment for training, schools and deployments, which is far from the part-time soldier stigma that we fight so hard against. It truly is a full-time job with less pay. And if you speak to any team sergeant, he would concur that time spent in that position is full-time with daily responsibilities and obligations, but only compensation for official drill time.
In the past five years, there have been three years in which my husband was home for a total of four weeks during the calendar year. While this was not solely due to deployments, it was time that was required for training, schools, deployments and JCET. Barriers to civilian employment
The intensive time requirement to maintain mission-ready status has prevented my husband and his teammates from securing civilian employment. Missed interviews, or news of upcoming deployments, quickly changes the conversation and becomes another dead lead. This lack of civilian employment then compounds the problem as operators look for military schools or opportunities to get back on orders, not because they want to leave again, but because the mortgage is due.
Decorated men who are heroes in war are left seeking work in fields they are grossly overqualified for, such as bartending or Uber, to provide for their families in between orders. This is wrong on so many levels. Our family moved to our current home five years ago with the intention that my husband would be able to secure civilian employment and we could live a normal family while he continued his commitment with the National Guard. Despite his college education and impressive resume, this has not happened for us. Time for a bigger conversation
I am employed as a physician assistant and make a good living. For a while, I thought our struggles were due to our choices, our fault. Eventually, last year I left my ego at the door and started to speak with other families and found that they, too, are experiencing this same hardship not only in our state but other states as well. Things need to change and it starts with communication.
Fifteen years as a military spouse, and it was only recently that I met key people in our state at a Yellow Ribbon Event who could have saved us from so many crisis situations. Knowing who you can call is paramount. As an example, I have driven away from a pharmacy window leaving medication behind because I did not know our TRICARE lapsed or status changed based on how the orders were created. Another family received medical bills from a foreign country when her husband was hospitalized there on a military assignment. His orders were generated in less than 30-day increments, so it was not covered by TRICARE while deployed. If these types of insurance issues happened once, I would regard it as an honest mistake. But this happens several times a year for many households.
Orders created for less than 30 days for schools or assignments that exceed that time period create financial hardship for families. Waiting 30 days for a LES until the orders are satisfied, and losing hundreds of dollars due to BAH Type II is significant. This also makes establishing a budget for a National Guard household a nightmare. An excerpt from The Balance Careers offers a layman explanation of the allowance:
Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 30 continuous days receive a different type of housing allowance than active duty members. This type of housing allowance is known as Basic Allowance for Housing, Type II, and pays less, on average than Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Type I, which is based upon a members rank, dependency status and location of assignment.
BAH Type II, on the other hand, is not dependent upon the location of assignment. It is the same regardless of where the National Guard/Reserve member is stationed. It does differ based on the rank of the military member. National Guard and Reserve military personnel who are on active duty for 30 days or longer receive BAH Type I, the same housing allowance received by active duty members.
Why is BAH type I not pro-rated as many of the other special pays are? Why do we have to wait until orders are fulfilled before receiving pay?
It is not the separation from our spouses that brings us to the breaking point because we are strong, independent women; rather, it is the financial strain and the worry of how to provide for our family when we feel that we continue to do all the right things. We are seeking fair and timely compensation for the work and sacrifice our soldiers are giving. These men are driven by love of country and love for their comrades, so it is heartbreaking to have a discussion of whether to retire or continue based on if we can afford his Army habit.
Our familys plan has always been based on the idea to stay in the Guard at least 30 years, but the reality now is that Im just not sure. Losing experienced, skilled operators because of these reasons is a travesty. We can and must do better for our Guard families. Its time to start the conversation.
here’s a link to the public Facebook page.
Weekend Warriors make a choice NOT to join the military as Active Duty members. It is a Choice THEY made.
There are laws protecting them from retaliation by their employers. These laws have been enforced on very many occasions. That said, if you CHOOSE to be a Reservist and are no, for training you are compensated at a rate that is well know. It is not a surprise. It is well known.
This is a chance you take based on the choice you made. Again, the issues here are not hidden. They are not a mystery.
Choosing this path with the known issues and then complaining about them after the fact is nonsense.
If you don’t like it quit and be a civilian full time. This choice will make all the issues surrounding being a weekend warrior go away.
if you choose to be a Reservist and are not employed
Additionally, it is correct that your reservist status can significantly inhibit your ability to become employed. You are required to disclose this.
The laws do not protect you if you are unemployed and are seeking employment. They only protect you from being terminated as a result of your call to duty if you are employed.
Again, this is all well known. Choices have consequences. Not all pleasant or convenient.
In my experience, and I have a fair amount in this area, other public sector jobs (especially Postal but teaching, police, fire, etc.) are your best bet for a reservist.
The National Guard and the Army Reserves are two different entities. That said, I agree that this is a choice, and it sounds like the husband prefers to serve additional duty in the NG over being at home with his complaining wife.
Your comments seem right on to me. That’s what my dad did when he quit the Army Reserve back in the 50s to have more time for his family. Special Forces may be more demanding but bottom line, it’s still a choice they made.
That said, I think the administrative foul-ups she cites ought to be corrected if at all possible. We owe our military volunteers a lot, but that doesn’t me doing their thinking for them.
OVERTURN THE PROSECUTION OF GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN
With a wife like this I would have gone back active.
What ever happened with do not bring undue notoriety to the service?
This is kind of crappy, but yeah, National Guardsmen choose not to be in the regular Army. There are laws to protect jobs and positions when deployed, and in this day and age, most places take that extremely seriously.
It isn’t for everyone, and it is a sacrifice. God bless ‘em!
Yep - they also continue to accrue long-term benefits and often achieve a rank or two higher than would have been possible if they stayed active....
Based on your take on the situation I would say that all reserve forces must be abolished and it’s either full time military in or out. It is foolish for the military to have to draw upon part timers anyway when part timers are not going to be supported as full timers when they do serve.
So get rid of the reserve program completely so that we don’t have these problems. Make all soldiers full time or not. If there must be a reserve program, then the reservists need to be treated better, especially the ones who always seem to be away on a quasi-full time status. I would say this military wife is on the money and is calling out the generals and politicians on a sore subject they would rather not deal with.
So much for choice. Would you agree then that the reserves should be done away with? That reservists shouldn’t have families? That reservists should live a spartan life, to live in poverty but always at the ready to lose their lives for their country?
Then let’s do away with the reserve programs and make it an either you are in or out full time military!
Hardly “Weekend Warriors”.
All branches of the Reserves and the National Guard are no longer “Strategic Reserve” units, but are in fact “Operational Reserve” units. The Active Duty military does not have the support assets (and a significant portion of combat assets) to conduct combat (and a lot of other-than-combat) operations. IIRC, roughly 75% of Army logistics capacity resides in the Army Reserve. No fuel, no trucks, no bullets, no medical - nobody’s going nowhere to do any thing.
Thanks to Clinton’s “peace initiative” of the early 1990s. And, except for a brief build-up, propagated by succeeding administrations.
“One weekend a month, two weeks a year” was the tag line for time required. It’s now the remaining free time these Citizen-Soldiers have.
Been there, done that.
I left active duty after 8+ years. I’ve thought about it over the past 30+ years, but I’ve never regretted my decision to not join the Reserves. I’ve seen how the Guard and Reserves have been treated like red headed stepchildren, for many officers it became nearly a full time, unpaid job.
Not at all. Nothing I wrote even remotely conveys what you state. What I do state is that the pro’s and con’s are well known. The man made a CHOICE. His wife does not like the consequences of HIS CHOICE. This is NOT the problem of the Uniformed Services.
My primary point was and remains the issues the woman is complaining about are not a secret. They are well known.
Her husband made a choice. She doesn’t like the ramifications of his choice. So, she wants an entire gov’t entity to change because she doesn’t like the ramifications of her husbands choice.
There is no deep dark sinister secret in deciding to become a Weekend Warrior over Active Duty. She’s just angry about the downsides.
Again, these are not a deep dark secret. Her hubby made his choice. He has options if he and she doesn’t like the consequences of his choice.
Well obviously it’s going to be a problem of the uniformed services if lots of good men just drop out. A husband and wife are one flesh so he’ll have to choose between the pros and cons of staying in or losing his wife.. Still he is just one man and the services can get along just fine without him, wouldn’t you say?
The uniform services need to treat their reservists and national guard better...or just go all full time and get rid of the reserve services.
I know how you meant to convey what you wrote, I was disagreeing with you!
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