In response to letter writers who took exception to my July 24 letter “Contractors have fewer threats”: I really don’t have anything against contractors. Any “hatred” or extreme emotion toward them is perception and not reality. In fact, I have excellent relationships with contractors with whom I work every day.

My comments were generalized and probably unfairly so — directed more at a few bad apples than the corps as a whole. In fact, the latest shenanigans involved a disgruntled group of contractors offended at the lack of accommodations (a symptom of base closures). Their solution wasn’t to continue the mission. Their solution was to turn around, get back on the bird and say good luck.

As such, it is my right as an American to voice my opinion.

Regardless, I can’t help but feel that those individuals who responded to my rant are splitting hairs. On one hand they claim to only occasionally make six figures while on the other they’ve never had a wet CHU (containerized housing unit). While monetary value is not an appropriate measure of sacrifice, it does measure how much food we put on the table and for how long, how our children are clothed for school and what type of education they receive. It’s a relatively simple work/compensation ratio.

Furthermore, let’s not fool ourselves: In this economy, we’re here because we do get compensated. I know very few people who would have signed that dotted line had the recruiter said, “By the way, you’re working for free.”

I still maintain that a soldier’s level of sacrifice is incomparable. Yes contractors may miss their children too but, at the end of the day, if they’re tired of this and the nice compensation they can say, “I’m going home.” Soldiers do not have that luxury.

If the government is ever unable to pay its bills, do contractors have to come to work that next day without being paid? We soldiers do. When a contractor takes the combat uniform off and comes back to the war zone to get a paycheck, then it stops being a sacrifice and becomes an occupational hazard. No contractor should try and sell it that he’s doing it for freedom or the American way of life.

Additionally, my annual salary as a captain is public knowledge, as a matter of policy. Anyone who had a mind to could go and look at a 2011 military pay chart. No mystery there. And it’s nowhere near six digits. However, I challenge contractors who write in to Stars and Stripes to include their salary in their future submissions.

Finally, I apologize to those civilian contractors with whom I interact daily if I’ve offended you. Friendly fire.

This is my last transmission. I graciously bow out and leave you to it.

Capt. Thomas J. Martinez

Contingency Operating Site Warhorse, Iraq

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