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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 10/09/2018 09:54:11

Good Morning.

We'll dive right in this morning, but we'll be taking a look at the oft-overlooked segment of our veterans today....their families.

While we often look at soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines as individuals...they all have families and a home life just like you and me. This is something that is overlooked at all levels, even here at AAV.

Veteran's groups often focus on supporting the individual veteran, but here is something we almost never think of - schools for their children. There is a base in Alabama that is having difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified airmen for jobs on the base because the local school system is so bad.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The poor reputation of schools in Alabama's capital city is creating friction with the city's Air Force base.

Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of Air University and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, says the state of schools in Montgomery is putting a strain on his job, with airmen arriving on base alone and faculty members reluctant to accept positions at the base.

More than 56 percent of airmen in last year's Air War College came to Montgomery without families, Cotton tells the Montgomery Advertiser, with schools being the top reason cited for separation.

"The reality is, 'If my kids aren't happy, I'm not happy," Cotton said of airmen. "If I have to try to spend so much time trying to understand how to get them ready and prepared for secondary education, then I'm not doing my mission as far as taking care of you, and making sure that I protect our country.'"

Rachel Scott said she started a side business to raise tuition to send her oldest child to a private high school, but would rather save the money for college. She said her family is looking at buying a house outside Montgomery by summer to seek better schools.

Until now, they've relied on Maxwell's on-base school, but it ends after eighth grade.

"We moved on base primarily for the school because my husband did research before we moved here and found out that the school systems were rated really low," Scott said. "Their ratings are so low, I feel like my kids would fall behind."

In the 2016-2017 school year, 34 percent of Montgomery County seniors were deemed to have graduated without being college or career ready. The district's five regular high schools had a combined average ACT score of 16, failing to meet the minimum score of 21 for enrollment at the University of Alabama. On the state's report card, 66 percent of the Montgomery public schools received grades of D or F.

Staying along those lines, families often endure years of a transient lifestyle. It's not uncommon for some families to uproot and relocate every year, if the military demands it of those serving. The least you'd expect is that the military has figured out how to quickly and efficiently move families and their belongings from base to base with efficiency and safety. Of course, you'd be wrong.

Moving is nothing new for Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bill Weir's family, but their latest transfer was the bumpiest yet.

The Italian moving company the military hired to ship their belongings to New Mexico ruined artwork by wife Vennita, a professional artist. The crew boxed paintings with leaky liquid containers, broke a sunflower sculpture and damaged frescoes made at a Florence art school. Especially hurtful, Vennita Weir said: The movers destroyed a Rapunzel figurine their 5-year-old daughter received during a Disneyland Paris trip to celebrate her father's return from his Afghanistan deployment.

"How do I tell her that special little figurine we got to commemorate that special day ... is gone?" said Weir, who has made three moves in six years with her husband -- who has made nine in 24 years of service. "Her Barbie house is broken beyond repair because they just shoved it in a box. There are all these little things."

Weir is one of several military spouses who told The Associated Press stories of frustration, theft, carelessness and dishonest workers during 2018 transfers, with Bill Weir and others calling this year's move the worst they have experienced.

About 400,000 U.S. military members and civilian employees will move this year with their families. More than 100,000 military members and supporters have signed an online petition demanding improvement to a system that costs taxpayers $2.2 billion annually.

Organizer Megan Harless, an Army veteran whose husband Aaron is a major, said she posted the petition after her family's recent move from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Fort Eustis, Virginia. Movers improperly wrapped china, threw boxes carelessly onto the truck, and lost or stole bags containing the couple's shooting accessories, she said.

"This really is a bad year," said Harless, whose family has moved nine times in 13 years. Once-isolated problems are now "across all branches, all locations."

The military has no exact statistics on problem moves but said surveys show a slight drop in satisfaction. Maj. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the issues arise from a nationwide shortage of truck drivers and a low unemployment rate that has "made it very difficult for providers to find quality labor."

Gleason said the 850 approved contractors are assigned specific jobs, using a formula that is 30 percent price and 70 percent previous customer satisfaction. Poorly graded companies are suspended or dropped.

"We are very sympathetic to the sacrifices that our members make and do our best to make sure that high quality providers are moving their possessions. Unfortunately, not every move is perfect," she said.

We'll finish up today by shining the spotlight on Afghanistan. As we used to report here, today marks our 6,211th day in Afghanistan. Or, 17 years and two days. (October 7, 2001).

Putting that into perspective, young Javier was a mere two months old when we invaded Afghanistan. He will graduate High School in June of next year, and if he enlisted, he just might end up there.

But as it has happened over the years, another lawmaker has called for us to leave. At least he is a veteran, although he served in Iraq.

WASHINGTON — To mark the 17th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, Rep. Ruben Gallego wants to finally end the conflict.

Gallego, D-Ariz. and a Marine Corps veteran who served in combat in Iraq, has been a vocal critic of the “perpetual war” in the recent years. In a statement this weekend, he said military and political leaders need to find a way to put a stop to America’s longest military fight.

“It’s clear that continuing on the current course is not in our national interest,” he said. “American troops should come home.

“Our objectives following (the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks) were to destroy al-Qaida, kill Osama bin Laden, and prevent a recurrence of an ungoverned space in Afghanistan that allowed for terrorists to plot and plan attacks on Americans and our allies. We accomplished all of those objectives years ago.”

Last week, Defense Department officials announced the death of a U.S. service member in Afghanistan, the seventh so far this year. About 14,000 American troops are current deployed in the country in training and advisory roles, as well as some special forces conducting combat missions.

At an appearance before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in July, President Donald Trump said U.S. forces “for the first time in years are making a lot of progress in Afghanistan” because of recent changes by his administration in U.S. strategy there. That included an increase in the number of American troops in the country.

Gallego said any withdrawal of troops must be done “responsibly” but also without additional delays.

“Over the past 17 years, almost 25,000 Americans have been killed or wounded in Afghanistan. Many thousands more bear the mental and emotional scars of combat,” Gallego said.

But this is President Bush's legacy. We remain at war with Eastasia, and always will be.


13 comments (Latest Comment: 10/09/2018 22:27:16 by Raine)
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