NETWORK IS A WASTE
In the current fiscal environment, it is imperative that Army leaders make calculated decisions that reduce the waste and stretch every dollar the Army receives. [Warfighter Information Network-Tactical] is probably the biggest waste of money in Army history. Using commercial-off-the-shelf products was cheaper than investing in research and development of military-grade equipment. But the downfall of it is that more money was spent on contractors to tie it all together, and more money will continue to be spent on personnel costs due to the grossly extended amount of training that soldiers require to become operators.
Additionally, since the equipment is not rated for military use, itís constantly breaking, which requires us to send everything back to the manufacturers instead of simply ordering parts and fixing it or even sending it to a depot. The short-term cost may be significantly less, but the long-term cost of constant repairs, extended training and personnel, and an over-reliance on civilian contractors have turnedthe Armyís much-touted network to being a giant piece of crap.
2nd Lt. Benjamin R. Smart / Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
DON'T RELY ON DISABILITY
I feel compelled to reach out to my fellow brothers and sisters in arms who are close to retiring.
If you are retiring now or are close to retiring, do not rely on the Veterans Affairs Department or any VA claim system to care about when you get your claim decision.
Do not expect that anyone in the VA system, the Pentagon or the White House cares if your claim is being processed accurately or promptly.
I retired out of Fort Hood, Texas, in July 2012. My VA claim was misdirected and sat idle for five months with no one knowing or caring where it was.
During those five months, I personally spoke to four different VA claim representatives, whose job it is to track your claim and assist you.
All four representatives told me for five months, ďSir, your claim is in the system and good to go; you just have to wait for the decision.Ē
I found out five months later that my paperwork was sitting in Temple, Texas, and had never been forwarded where it was supposed to go. I was immediately five months behind on receiving a decision for my claim.
If the Army wants to initiate necessary cutbacks, it should eliminate all of the positions for these so-called VA representatives who are sitting in an office telling veterans their claims are ďgood to go,Ē when in reality all they are doing is paying lip service to veterans.
I am disappointed in the VA system, and I want to spread the word to all veterans retiring.
Donít do what I did and depend on your money from your VA claim in your budget.
You wonít see it anytime soon and all you will get is the runaround from VA representatives, and each one will give you a different story as to why your claim isnít processed.
My claim is supposedly in Salt Lake City, so they tell me, but no one, not one person, website or reference has a phone number or a contact at Salt Lake City to call.
The VA claim system for recent retirees is broken and uninformative to the veterans themselves and everyone knows it. Do not trust or depend on the system if you are recently retiring. The sad thing is, thereís absolutely nothing we can do about it.
1st Sgt. Ryan Lee Sutton (ret.) / Round Rock, Texas
THE JOBS ARE OUT THERE
I keep telling these young veterans to look beyond home for a career. The local police department and fire service may not have any openings at present. This goes also for public service and utilities.
I helped a young veteran get on the Boston Police Department. He finished the academy just in time to relieve tired police officers after the emergency ended.
The jobs and careers are out there. Donít put all your eggs in one basket. Be flexible. Be willing to relocate.
Whatís more important? Being near the home crowd every day, or realizing your dreams?
Travel to different cities and towns. Explore your options. Isnít it worth a try?
Sgt. 1st Class Paul McDermott (ret.) / Glen Cove, N.Y.
SEX ASSAULT SOLUTION
The Army is still not doing enough to prevent sexual assaults. The punishments given out are a joke and not harsh enough. If the Army wants to send a message that sexual assault will not be tolerated anymore, the Army needs to start executing serial rapists. That will send a clear message.
What is the recidivism rate for serial rapists? Nearly 100 percent. What is the recidivism rate for an executed serial rapist? Zero percent. The current punishments were made by men. Why not ask the victims (mostly women) of this horrible crime what the punishments should be changed to?
Staff Sgt. Christopher Baird / Fort Bliss, Texas