24 January 2013
I feel bad that I haven’t written in over a week. Work has dictated that I focus on the Troop and less on personal time. It’s nice though, the week flew by. Awards and evaluation reports are coming hot and heavy across the desk this last week. I make sure to get up at least once from my desk every hour to walk around and visit my shops. I think they might get sick of me by the end of the day, but when I spend 14-18 hours a day in this office, I need to get away from the monitor and spend some time with the Troops.
I did find the time to write my Congressmen yesterday. Over 170,000 retirees will be losing Tri-Care Prime, the military’s main health care option. Those that live further than 40 miles from a military installation will be cut from the program. Made me sick! I have had enough of our politicians and the seeming games that they play with us people. Less than 1% of the nation serves the military and they choose to use our pay and entitlements as a way to cut spending. Here is what I wrote to both of them:
I have served this great nation for the past 17 years and plan to retire in a few years. For the first time in my career, I am scared; not because of what I do, but because of the future of America and what it holds for me and my family.
Have you or your fellow Oregonian Congressman served in the military? Do you and your fellow Congressman know what it’s like to deploy away from your family and not see them for stretches of time that have reached 15 months? Have you lost Soldiers? Have you been shot at, blown up, or put your subordinates in harm’s way knowing that you may lose them? Have you written letters to families of Soldiers that died doing what the volunteered to do?
Knowing that our pay and retirement benefits are at risk due to the budget cuts, and your failure to reach a budget agreement, makes me sick to my stomach. With all the government “hand-outs” that are given, it would seem that they would be the first to go, not Soldiers pay.
I invite you and your staff to come spend a week with my Soldiers and me. Not a scripted “dog-and-pony” tour, but living in tents, driving down IED filled roads, and conducting dismounted patrols in Taliban infested country. I think all it will take is a week and you will see just how much our Soldiers go through and that we deserve to not have to worry about getting paid and the future of our benefits. We, as Soldiers, volunteered to fight this war, and for you and Congress to not be able to come up with a budget solution that doesn’t pass, without affecting the Military’s pay, is ridiculous!
Make a stand! Forgo YOUR pay until a budget is passed! Leave our pay and benefits alone!
JAMES L. GIBSON
I urge each of you that take the time out of your day to read this (thank you again) to write yours when you have a problem with what they are doing. Remember, they work for you!
The talk of the town today is Leon Panetta lifting the ban on women in battle. Like I said before, the Army is changing. I had an old 1SG tell me that the Army and the military are in constant change; you either change with it or it will push you out. This debate is as hot as gun control. My personal belief?
Right now, in my Troop, I have females that are serving and I have yet to have an issue. Our Squadron currently has females serving in the Infantry Company that is attached to us. They are doing just fine. When I joined back in December of 1995, I was required, at a minimum, to complete 40 pushups in 2 minutes, 50 sit-ups in two minutes, and run 2 miles in less than 15 minutes. If you cannot do this, the Army’s belief, is that you are not physically capable of completing your mission. Women on the other hand, only need to complete 19 pushups, same amount of sit-ups, and have just less than 19 minutes to pass the Army physical fitness test. If the Army deems it necessary (and it was) for me to be an effective loader on a tank, loading rounds that weighed close to 50 pounds in less than 7 seconds, than the same should be said for females.
The other issue I have is that of modesty. When on a tank, living with three other Soldiers in close proximity, you get to know each other very well. I don’t think sexual tension will be an issue either, as we have male and females working side by side in the majority of the Army. The problem is going to be personal hygiene. During typical field rotations on a tank, you go in excess of three weeks without a proper shower. To combat this, it is normal practice to throw some cardboard down on the ground, strip butt-naked, and have your battle buddy pour water over you from on top of the tank. I’m sure you won’t have a problem finding male Soldiers volunteering to be the designated water pour’er on a mix gendered tank crew!
Bottom line: Females are already serving in combat. I support it 95%… It will get my 100% support when either the male physical fitness requirements are lowered or the female requirements are raised so that we have an equal standard across the Army. That’s what it boils down to right? Equality?