Local reservist wants out of Army commitment

“They say that in the Army / The pay is mighty fine / For every hundred dollars / They take back ninety-nine.”

A local reservist is learning the truth of this cadence. The reservist, who spoke to NUVO on condition of anonymity, enlisted at age 17 to get money for college. He enlisted under the split-options program, which enables 17-year-olds to enlist, report for Basic Combat Training after their junior year of high school, finish high school and report for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) after graduation. He said he joined the Army because it offered the best deal.

His recruiter emphasized the benefits — the Montgomery GI Bill, job training, work experience, a steady paycheck and other benefits. “He never got into much detail about what you had to go through,” the reservist said.

The reservist learned those details shortly after reporting for Basic. The environment was extremely stressful. Stressors varied, from the separation from family to sleep deprivation. Some soldiers could not cope.

“We’d be sitting in a lecture and soldiers would burst out crying, saying they didn’t want to be there and it wasn’t right for them,” he said. “It was disheartening, especially if it was someone you grew to know.”

The stress, however, is not the reason he wants out. He wants out because of problems with his pay and benefits. “I discovered that a lot of money was being taken from my check, and no one could explain why,” he said. He stated that a little over 50 percent was deducted from his check, including taxes. The majority of the deductions are for unknown reasons.

“He must have a lot of allotments,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Stan Heath said. “There’s a reason why.” The reservist would like to know the reason. “I have talked to several people — to be exact, around 10 or 11 — at the financial center at Ft. Harrison about it, and they basically give me the runaround,” he said.

No one is helping him separate from the Army, either. “I think most of them [people in my unit] see me as someone who can’t live the military life, and that’s not true,” he said. “If they looked at it from my perspective, the fact that substantial amounts of money are deducted for unknown reasons, they wouldn’t draw that conclusion.”

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