Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ying and Yang, Army Style

My ongoing efforts to get several years of service credit restored, so that I might remain in the Army long enough to earn a retirement, and continue serving on the investigation task force I'm currently assigned to has hit a few speed bumps. While I remain optimistic that I will win this battle, I have learned something about the stark difference between my active duty hierarchy and the reserve side's chain of command.

When this latest issue surfaced early last month, I got good help and support from the admin folks at the local reserve personnel center, but they were limited in what influence they have. On the other hand, when I informed my active duty bosses of the potential for my impending discharge I was stunned by their immediate offers of support, including a plan to get several commanding generals involved to add their considerable weight to my side. These offers were genuine, though it remains to be seen whether some "heavy hitters" are going to bat on my behalf. But at least they are providing tangible help. (They aren't doing this just to be nice, they recognize the contribution I'm making as part of the task force, and want to keep me in the fight. That makes a lot of sense to me, and motivates me to not give up.)

I contrast this tangible and heartfelt readiness to do whatever it takes to keep me on the team with the response from the reserve side of the house, outside of my home unit. Our higher headquarters (battalion-level) is located in California, and their reputation for losing personnel paperwork is epic. Once my situation came to their attention, their apparent worry has focused upon how quickly they can get me out the door, and thereby rapidly resolve the inconvenient mark on the battalion's unit manning report. No phone calls from the S-1 asking if there's anything they can do to support me, or the Battalion Command Sergeant Major trying to retain one of his NCOs by exerting his influence. Of course, these are the same bunch of folks who showed zero concern when our senior NCO in my detachment has had to resubmit his retirement papers FIVE TIMES, and they still haven't processed them correctly.
That kind of slovenly treatment by staff and commanders would get active duty folks relieved on the spot.
No matter how this episode turns out, I will never forget how my current active duty superiors have behaved in the finest traditions of military leadership...and how some of their reserve counterparts have remained on their collective asses. By the way, I'm hedging my bets by filing a request for assistance from the Inspector General, and seeking even bigger firepower from Senator Patty Murray's office. Watch this space for updates... UPDATE # 1: I headed down to the post IG's office on Wednesday, and a very professional and courteous Master Sergeant informed me this case would have to be referred to the Army Reserve IG folks.(The MSG said she'd handle the referral, and send the documents I had provided.) My initial trepidation at this development, given the lukewarm performance so far by the reserve side of the house, was quickly overcome by the outstanding response I received by the next morning. First, I received an email from the USAR IG HQ, letting me know that they had opened a case on my behalf. Later that morning while in the office, I received a phone call from the Assistant IG who will be handling my case. She was very squared away, quickly grasped the elements of my situation, listened to my detailed expalnation, and then laid out her plan of action. While she predicted this would be a challenging fight, I am confident the USAR IG will indeed strongly advocate on my behalf. So, score one for the Army Reserve! In the meantime, I am preparing my cases to be handed off to some "lucky" agent for final action, and set up my out-processing appointments. The fight continues...

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