The military retirement system is under attack, again. Military pay and retiree health care benefits are always under attack. The wrong things are consistently in the cross hairs of the men with the wallets in Washington.

We have GS-too highs and O-7-pluses stating we need to raise health care premiums, we need to revamp the retirement system, we need to do the things that don’t affect them. How many of them consider how their ideas affect a retired/retiring E-7 who doesn’t pull in $10,000 a month? Seventy-five percent of a retired O-7’s pay vs. 50 percent of an E-7’s? Sure it would be easy to say, “Change it” — if I made that kind of money. I would never feel the sting.

That’s what they are doing. What are we lowly enlisted and company grade officers and field grade officers doing? We write to Stars and Stripes maybe. We whine about it at the water cooler (which has no water — budget cuts). We go home and post on Facebook how much BS it is. Congress’ retirement packages are sweet deals. How dare they listen to the GS-too highs and O-7-pluses?!

Fellow servicemembers, do your representatives know how you feel? Have you written an email to your representatives and senators? Hell, have you at least sent them an email (not as effective, but better than nothing)? If not, then you are all part of the problem.

As a noncommissioned officer, rarely have I had a leader who didn’t listen to my input. Most times my leaders took my advice, but sometimes not. Sometimes I’ve lost a chunk of hide for the stances I’ve taken, but my leaders have always respected what I have had to say.

These are our leaders, folks, and they need to hear what we have to say. Write a letter. Tell them what you think, how you feel, even offer alternatives. Join your service’s lobbyist group (for example, the Air Force Sergeants Association). For the love of all you hold dear, just don’t sit there and do nothing!

Tech. Sgt. Patrick “Mac” McKimmie

Misawa Air Base, Japan

Cheating is almost inevitable

In “Cheating aboard sub outlined” (article, Aug. 16), I was glad to see one small layer of the onion pulled back. This type of thing is rampant in the surface Navy, as well. One need only look as far as a big red and green monster known as TORIS (Training and Operational Readiness Information Services) and Level Of Knowledge (LOK) exams — Both of which are great concepts. However, because of the outrageous and ambiguous questions on many LOKs and the ridiculous nature of many things in TORIS (not the least of which is the amount of time, personnel and resources required to actually make an attempt at correctly performing these “drills” and other items), a culture of “helping each other out” comes to exist.

We’ve all heard someone say, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” Eventually people find out (as if they didn’t already know) and pretend to be appalled, but they know it’s the only way it can look good and keep people off their backs.

Truth be known, isn’t that what it’s really all about in today’s Navy? Not thriving, but simply “surviving” the next big deal, the next inspection the next “compressed training cycle,” the next 7-plus-month deployment? It’s even come down to surviving through pre/post-overseas movement “stand downs” and surviving port visits.

The Navy has become almost unrecognizable over the last decade. I’m near the end of my career now. I will “survive.” Good luck, shipmates.

Chief Petty Officer James Stewart


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