On today’s front page of the Stars and Stripes paper, a “sailor” sporting lug-nut sized earrings marches proudly beside a “soldier” whose chin is carapaced under a bushy goatee. The article carrying this photo says that military veterans have joined the Occupy Wall Street movement and some are protesting the much higher wages that “corporate contractors” made in relation to what service members made while in war zones.
First of all, if money is the primary reason that someone is in the military, they should get out. There’re easier ways to make money outside the military. Secondly, the complaint about the contractors is ridiculous, at least in the context of what these protests are supposedly about. Most of the contractors–a huge majority–are former military personnel with specialized skills. The military hires them to fulfill two needs: 1) The specialized, technical skills those contractors possess aren’t easily found in 22 year old E4 Specialists. 2) Force Caps, or the maximum number of troops that Congress allows in Afghanistan and Iraq, hinders operations, and in order to get around that, the billets are filled with contractors whom have to pay for their own insurance, their own house back home. With the contractors level of experience and college education, they’d be making similar money in the military if we counted benefits such as housing, training pay and TRICARE insurance. Plus they could look forward to federal retirement pay. And did military pay go down when we began paying a lot of contractors? Not to my knowledge.
These contractors also almost always have college degrees, or decades experience in a specialized field, such as law enforcement persons training foreign national troops.
I’m assuming that the two people marching in the protest are not currently in the military, because neither met the grooming or dress standards for anyone in the US Navy or Army. And since they are protesting, it may be safe to assume that they are having a difficult time with finances. In fact, below the photo in Stars and Stripes, the writer cites a complaint about service members having a difficult time after service. Why did they leave the military? Even if the military is not the best situation for many people, it would seem better than being unemployed. But I guess our government has made unemployment so comfortable an existence that it’s preferable to a real job with great benefits. And you can always protest in hopes the government will give you the benefits you had when you were working.
Speaking of which. The protesting service members should know that one of the things the Wall Street mob wants, is a free ride through college, and all their college debts paid off by–who else–the government. Otherwise known as all the people who aren’t protesting but are actually working so as to generate taxable income. As military veterans they have access to a fantastic thing called the GI Bill. Have they used it? Or did they throw away a job with no plan for the future?
To tell the truth, I have no idea if the two people in Stars and Stripes are really current or ex-service members. Since ACORN got caught paying people to protest, it would actually be pure genius to pay some people to pose as disgruntled vets, just begging for more dole.
But if they are real, I’m embarrassed for them and by them. If they’re not in the military anymore, I’m glad. If they are they should spend more time studying for the next promotion board so they can make more money. And they got more free stuff in the military than they’ll get anywhere else.