Still Bent Over, Waiting For Uncle Sam To Finish...

Yeah, I'm still pissed off. But not for the same thing, necessarily. A related thing, sure, but it's not exactly the same.

When Uncle Sam tells you to move, you do it. Uncle Sam is also supposed to pay for the move, the reasonable expenses, anyway, like gas, lodging along the way, and a nominal amount of food. Enough to cover a couple meals a day at McDs or BK. It's reasonable.

Now, Uncle Sam used to figure out about how much the move would cost, and give the active duty military member (ADMM) the cash up front. If incurred expenses were over that amount, well, the ADMM was probably screwed. But it was usually enough, with a few bucks left over. Enough to get a pizza on the other end of the move, not enough to get rich on.

A few years ago someone got the bright idea to give each ADMM a credit card. This card is supposed to be used for only Official Government Purposes, such as transfers, deployments, and TDYs. The ADMM uses the card to pay for gas, etc, or living expenses while deployed, and on the other end of the move, or when they get back, Uncle Sam gives them the money to pay off the card.

One big problem.

Uncle Sam never reimburses the ADMM before the card is due. And Bank Of America wants their money, all of it, when it's due. The card is tied into the ADMM's credit rating. You get the picture. Uncle Sam doesn't cough up the money for a good 3 months, and if the ADMM doesn't have that much money in savings, his credit rating is screwed. Guys have been in the field - fighting for this country - and discovered that their cards didn't work. Why not? Because B of A hadn't yet been paid. As if soldiers in Afghanistan sit there and worry about paying a credit card on time.

This happens a lot, by the way, ADMMs having their credit rating trashed because of that gov't card. You tend to not be able to save a lot when you're military, especially in the junior enlisted ranks, where the pay is sub-minimum wage, basically. With no savings, you can't pay the card off when it's due, while you're waiting for Uncle Sam to get his ass in gear.

This happened to us on our last move. We've been here for two months and still haven't gotten that travel pay. The government (yeah, right) credit card came due a month ago. We had to cough up $700 to make sure it got paid off and didn't screw us on our credit rating.

When we got here, we immediately got base housing. This is a good thing... usually. The base housing here is "privatized," meaning a private contractor has taken over base housing. Part of military pay is called "Basic Allowance for Housing." When you live in base housing you don't get it - of course not, you live on base (so no, military people don't get "free" housing... they just don't get part of their pay when they live on base). It's just easier for them to keep the BAH. But with this privatization, the ADMM is supposed to get BAH, but sign it over to the private contractor; rent, as it were. It should work the same way as living in regular base housing - the ADMM never sees the money, the contractor gets his money, and all is right with the world.

We signed in, signed over the BAH, and thought that would be it.

Come October 1st, the contractor had not received our BAH. We had not received it, either. The Spouse Thingy marched over to the Finance Office, only to find out that as far as they were concerned, even though he had signed in, we were still in transit from our transfer. We weren't the only ones; several people who arrived at the base about the same time were in the same boat. It was a matter of catching up on paperwork that got delayed because of some deployments. He was assured that the money would be in our bank account in two days, and next month the BAH would go directly to the contractor.

Now, the contractor wanted rent. Period. We dipped into savings again and forked over $1006 dollars, on the promise we'd have that - plus the travel pay - in two days.

Yeah, right. We've been here two months and we're down $1700.

Can you imagine the hell that would break loose if a private company suddenly withheld $1000 of someone's paycheck, on top of not repaying their moving expenses? At the very least, a private citizen has the right to sue on his own behalf. The military member doesn't.

So we get to wait for someone in Finance to get it right, and to repay us money we never should have had to pay. And you know damn well they won't pay any interest on it.

We're tired. After 18 years of this, we're tired. The military has been good to us, for sure, but dammit, a person can only take so much. We're tired, and we're stuck. And we want our money back.

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