Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Man at Sunrise

For the past month I've been writing about my best friend Steve. He had been out of the Army for more than a year before he was ordered to report for medical screening and inevitably a deployment to Iraq. Having done more for his country in three years than the sum of whole organizations (I'm looking at you, College Republicans), Steve was once again called upon to do the work so many have shunned over the last eight years. I am more than relieved to report that today his exemption from involuntary mobilization has been granted and his orders canceled. Many people congratulate you when you get out of the Army like you're getting out of jail, but getting out of the IRR is like leaving purgatory behind. So many congratulations for Steve. Your future is back in your able hands. Now squeeze that GI Bill for all its worth!

As for the many more veterans in the IRR, I'm not giving up on this plight now that my friend is safe. There are still daily injustices that must be corrected, not only dealing with recall but the other back door draft of stop loss.

Thank you all for your e-mails and comments of support for Steve and others in his unenviable position. I truly appreciate it.

37 comments:

Just a guy said...

I wish I could add my congratulations... but I can't.

Sorry.

mamalew said...

Alex!!!

Yes, we are sooooo relieved!! I want to thank you and your readers for all the support and all the suggestions and all the help you have been to us. We still need to strive to correct the injustices, question the recalls and try to put an end to stop losses. Each soldier has a tale to tell and a reason known only to them. The fact that they have put their life on the line for their country is fact enough for me to listen when they say they can't do it again. I am truly grateful for and admire all of our soldiers as they are indeed very brave and are making sacrifices that we civilians will never be able to comprehend.

I am soooo very proud of Steven and very grateful that he has you as a friend. Keep writing Alex as you have a wonderful talent and I feel that it will take you far in life.

Again, THANK YOU!!
Teresa - Steven's VERY PROUD mom!!

Alex said...

Just a guy,

He got out in a completely legitimate way, no congressional action, no lawyers. The system let him out based on criteria submitted by him. I think he (and I) can get by without your sour grapes.

Alex said...

Teresa,

Today was a good day, and I'm honored to have shared it with you and Steve. We still have many issues to deal with, but for now your son and my friend is safe. It should be the aim of everyone to duplicate that all across the country.

Annette said...

I am glad that Steve won't have to go. I have written to all I can many times expressing my dismay at the IRR and requesting it's end. Hopefully soon it will stop for all the brave men and women of the military.

Thank you all for your service.

sgtlejeune said...

I just signed a petition over at 13Stoploss. Mine was only the 15th signature, but every little bit helps. The policy of stop-loss needs to end.

sgtlejeune said...

Oh, and - congratulations. I know this is welcome news.

Jim Hunt said...

This is what happens when we fight a war on a shoestring budget. Maybe we should reinstate the draft so that those that have done their part can return to society to pursue the life they want without the grey cloud of recall hanging over thier head?

bigD said...

Hi Alex,
I am so happy to have some good news for a change. I agree that we ALL must continue to fight for those soldiers who continue to be stop lossed and/or recalled from IRR. I actually got a call from one representative in Chicago and two letters from the Congressional reps that I wrote on Steve's behalf. I was impressed that I heard anything at all. It shows that a voice, even a small one, can be heard! Please everyone go to the petition and SIGN it! Take care Alex. Say hi to your friend Steve and his mom for me.

Just a guy said...

Alex, I apologize. I had no idea that the only comments that had any meaning to you were those you agree with.

At the end of the day, he had a duty and chose not to do it. Now, someone else will have to go for him. Of course, you don't owe that someone else a thing, because you don't know him. But someone else will now have to go because Scott (and you) decided to take a pass. Scott's the one who'll live with it, not me.

I can only speak for myself... and I would have gone. But then, I never did the IRR thing, since I spent 14 years in.

Next time you sign a contract, Alex, please let the other party know that if you don't happen to like the outcome, you'll want to skate out of it.

No sour grapes... just a fact. Have a nice life.

Alex said...

Just a guy,

The thing is, you didn't say anything that had any point. I have had many spirited debates in the comment section, but you just wanted everyone to know how unhappy you were that Steve went through the proper channels to get an exemption. Do you really have a problem with that, or are you just being disingenuous? For privacy's sake, I won't say what was granted, but he didn't go to Canada or rip up his orders. Everyone who gets recalled has the right to exemption if they can prove it, and he did. He would have gone if the request was denied, as I would. Where you get the notion that I would (or actively did) take a pass, the world may never know. The filling in of gaps in your argument with assertions and estimations does not help your position.

I really hope you never come in contact with a veteran with PTSD that recently got recall orders. He might not appreciate your "shut up and ruck up" position if he was thinking about an exemption himself.

Alex said...

And Scott? Really? My suspicion of your reading comprehension has been confirmed!

bigD said...

Just a guy,
If chose to spend 14 years in, then what is the problem. If you enjoyed your time in the military so be it...why do you begrudge Steve his right to an exemption? If you feel so strongly about people doing their duty, I am sure there are other avenues to pursue than putting down two guys who have served. Maybe not as long as you would like, but, long enough. Why are you defending the Army's shady recruiting process and their even shadier "contracts?" Why don't you spend time looking into that? Do think IRR and/or stop loss in this situation is just, fair, or even needed at this point in the proceedings? As a vet with fourteen years in you need to make a better case than just accusing others of trying to dodge their obiligations.

mamalew said...

Just a guy....

Your 14 years of service is commendable. How many combat ribbons, medals, citations, purple hearts, etc... do you have?? For someone to speak about someone they do not know in such a knowing way, I would hope that you have some of those combat awards. Please stick to your words and speak only for and about yourself as you really have no idea of what you are talking about. As for Alex, he has not "taken a pass". He has not received the dreaded package. I don't like that term "take a pass". My son volunteered to go so that someone else would not have to. TAKE A PASS????? I don't think so!!!

Teresa - Steven's VERY PROUD mom!!

13 Stoploss said...

just a guy,

I'm sure you didn't enlist for 14 years. like most, you had an initial contract, and for whatever reasons, you decided it was something you wanted to continue. for those of us who did NOT want to continue--if the military wanted us soldiers to serve 8 years, then they need to make minimum contracts for 8 years. No more of this 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 year bullshit, if they're going to just extend us anyway. It is purposely misleading, dishonest, and goes against the very core principles we are instilled with. THAT is what is wrong with it--that the government can use us, mislead us, allow us to leave, and move on with our lives, only to tell us THEY are failing to win more people to support THEIR wars, and we therefore are again "needed" to support the mission we didn't agree with, but honored in the first place.

GRUNTSHIT said...

Outstanding. Thats crazy today I was at CMHS at Fort Jackson taking Soldier there with tiny heart syndrome. I met a guy in the Permanent Party waiting room who was from 4thBCT 2ID. He had just been relieved from IRR. I didn't get his name but he did his time in Iraq, while his wife had another man living in his house with his child. When he got out he got custody of his son, he had a drug screen done and his son 2years old tested positive for THC. He got custody and then got called back after only being out a year. He is going home. More people need to do their part so we don't have to call back people that have BTDT!

themorethingschange.... said...

I'm so very happy to hear that Steve is going to be able to go on with his life on his own terms!

Like SgtLejune, I went to 13Stoploss, signed the petition, said my piece. At that point there were only 7 signatures, so I'm really happy to hear there've been more.

Alex,you know I'm a big fan of "Over There" and if GRUNTSHIT had been talking about TV instead of real life, I'd have bet he was talking about Dim. I've no clue why FX didn't renew the series; I'd hate to think the reason was political. And I have no way to know how authentic their representation was (they sure didn't do much for the image of Army Lts!). There are the legal and the OPSEC things of course. But to hear that some Iraqis were sure filming was done in Iraq, that even major characters had feet of clay, and the Americans' impact upon the locals was both good and bad lent the series a feeling of authenticity,imho. Check it out everybody. You can watch online or purchase the series on DVD. I'd love to hear what you think....pattiematheson@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Just a guy,

I have to wonder why you got out with 14 years in? You had 6 years to retirement. People like you make me curious why you couldn't sick it out for 2 more tours, but then turn around and act all arrogant when a kid has put in his time and wants to move on. Just asking.

lisa

13 Stoploss said...

re: "over there"

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=9349217&blogId=38557402

ELP said...

Stoploss is a crime.


Off topic, that is one of the better Iraq photos as your banner with that Stryker off to the left and the Mosque. Really, really good photography.

Anonymous said...

You realize the notion that CRs don't serve has been universally debunked right? You kind of came to that party late.

Alex said...

Anon,

The ratio of serving CRs to non-serving CRs is likely among the greatest for organizations that advocate for war without having anything close to a personal stake. But they sure rustle their pompoms as much as their little privileged hearts can take!

Long-time RN said...

Kinda waiting for a response to Lisa's question from "just a guy". A mere 6 years till retirement...

Very good news about Steve.

Anonymous said...

Comment moderation enabled. A lot of that going around, too.

Alex said...

Anon,

I enabled comment moderation because only about a quarter of comments are real, the rest are Korean spam linking to porn sites. I went through and manually deleted them all, and if it stops, I'll turn moderation off. For now it's a filter. But don't worry your head, anonymous, your comments will get through.

Jeff said...

Give Anonymous a couple of those Korean porn site links. That'll keep him occupied for awhile.

Dad

membrain said...

I'm glad to know that Steve's IRR situation was resolved in his favor. The Army bureaucracy seems to be more screwed up than normal.

The 5th Stryker Brigade which was originally intended to deploy to Iraq, after 10 months of intensive Arabic training, was diverted to Afghanistan, where they don't speak Arabic.

Then the DoD announced that the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, who learned what Arabic they know from there deployment in Iraq, will be going back to Iraq in the fall to make up for the loss of the 5thSBCT.

SITUATION NORMAL: ALL FUCKED UP!

Anonymous said...

"The ratio of serving CRs to non-serving CRs is likely among the greatest for organizations that advocate for war without having anything close to a personal stake. But they sure rustle their pompoms as much as their little privileged hearts can take!"

Well i obviously can't speak for all CRs, but i know the national organization and California federation have high level leadership that are in the Marines and Army. And it's tough to make that argument now because Obama is pushing a surge in Afghanistan and is dedicating at least 30,000 troops to iraq for another 24 months....does that mean those who support Obama need to enlist?

Alex said...

Anon,

The difference is that liberals weren't clamoring for continued war after the invasion. If CRs are as informed as they think they are, then they would realize that personnel shortages and recruitment shortfalls caused the military to intensify the number of stop loss/IRR recall soldiers. Being the right age and having the right kind of motivation didn't equate to a mass exodus from the fraternal order of College Republicans into the military. You know what that tells me? It tells me they don't have the moral fortitude to complete something they advocate for even though personnel shortages have been a known fact for years. They're too busy fighting a 'culture war,' whatever that means. When you hear a bunch of liberals shouting for war without a call for others (and themselves) to enlist, I'll be there to call them out.

Wek said...

"Well i obviously can't speak for all CRs, but i know the national organization and California federation have high level leadership that are in the Marines and Army."- anon

Anon- why is it that it's always "well I know" or "I have friends that serve"? Rarely is it ever the person making the comment that has enlisted. These claimed associations CR's make should be met with skepticism. For chrissakes, I've been a contributor for a site that ridicules CR's and YR's for not signing up and it's rare that there's any evidence to dispute their cowardice (Sorry to 'blog pimp' here, Alex. But I think it's relevant in this context). And sadly, even with a Democratic Congress and President I still have enough material that comes thru each week to post regularly on CR's.

So let me ask you a few questions, anon- First, are you a veteran? [If so, thank you for your service.] Are you in ROTC/OCS/something similar? [If so, thank you for your commitment.] Have you previously contacted a recruiter, but were not accepted for enlistment? [If so, thank you for stepping forward.] Do you know that you are not eligible to serve in our military, and therefore don't want to waste a recruiter's time?

Looking forward to your response.

Demeur said...

That whole IRR reminds me of Catch 22. Just as your are about to hit the finish line they move it a little further down the road but not until you thought you were out for good. I know people can endure some pretty tough situations as long as the know when it ends.

The worst of all this is the PTSD. We're now seeing news reports of officers with it and I'm talking some of the higher ups. That is not a good situation either now or when this is all over.

The Minstrel Boy said...

every now and then, the good guys win one.

congratulations on the success of this effort.

that's one soldier who truly gets to come home, and stay home.

glad ya'll made it troops.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wek,
yes
yes
yes, and I was accepted.
No

But as a CR I try to avoid mixing politics and military service, because they don't go well together. I actually joined because i figured if i can prevent one IRR call up, it's worth it. Anyway, going after CRs is a waste of time, most wear your criticism as a badge of honor. I get it though, it makes for excellent blog theater and probably gets you a ton of hits, so to that end, have fun.

Alex said...

Anon,

All it got me was a bit of grief from a living exception to the rule, and no more hits than normal. You won't find any linkage bait on this blog, and my modest hit count can attest to that.

Erin said...

Alex, this is absolutely fantastic. Congratulations to Steve and all for such a successful and incredible organizing effort. Well done, and thanks again for your service. This is a well-deserved victory.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the several hundred in the current crop of IRR soldiers mobilizing for deployment who either don't have, or haven't made up a reason to get out of this deployment. The only good news we've received is that perhaps we will be receiving the $500/mo stop loss pay since we're called up after our ETS dates (not MSO dates, mind you). I'd tell Steve the same thing I told the many many many other soldiers that have been called up on IRR duty that got out of it. Good for you, drink one for me back here, and hopefully we'll all come back safely without you.

Alex said...

Anon,

The next one I have is for you guys. Stay safe and keep sharp. And if I get the letter too, I'll be right behind you.