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In response to the June 21 letter “Workers don’t deserve LQA”: Any of us could be in this predicament, even the letter writer — because the issue is not living quarters allowance, a “golden egg,” or even guilt. The issue is a default of contract by the U.S. government.

We all sign them — contracts for our jobs, our mortgages, iPhone service, and even electricity to our homes. Each party in a contract has a responsibility to provide accurate information, and abide by the terms. But the party offering the contract generally sets the terms, and the signatory agrees to those terms.

I started work as a Department of Defense employee while on terminal leave. I received both my military base pay and DOD civilian pay for more than three months. Both my contracts permitted this, and I have no guilt. I also have no guilt receiving LQA, because it’s in the contract.

This is a breach of contract by the government, plain and simple. It is not the responsibility of a new employee to know, interpret and distill the policies and procedures of the company offering the position. It is certainly not the new employee’s responsibility to have a crystal ball and see into the future where the “interpretation” of those regulations would change.

So what’s next? What if the government decides that locality pay is an illegal payment? What if the plan is to now go back and recoup all that money from every civilian who ever worked for the U.S. government in the continental United States? Not likely, but apparently possible.

In terms almost anybody can understand, a parallel example would be a mortgage company deciding it no longer gives mortgages for homes in your town. The policy is retroactive, and the company’s going to dissolve your mortgage, keep the money you’ve already paid in interest and principal. As the true owner of the house, the mortgage company is evicting you as a squatter. And as a bonus, the mortgage company is also your primary bank, and it has frozen 15 percent of your assets until you leave the house.

Welcome to the nightmare of almost 700 DOD civilians overseas. All because they decided not to pursue a lucrative contracting or lay job, but instead to serve their country. God bless America.

Patrick O’Kane

Stuttgart, Germany


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