Forgive me… I need to depart from the normal timbre of posting around these parts. I’ve been blogging as a military spouse for about 7 years now, and as a military spouse, I just cannot sweep this one under the rug.
Also, just so there is no confusion, at least at this point in time my husband is still employed and is supposed to stay that way.
I learned tonight that a good friend of mine was fired.
He is a good guy, a straight arrow, works hard. He has a wife and two kids. He’s a good man, and as far as I know he hasn’t done anything wrong in his job.
The really outrageous thing? He got fired from a job you, at least according to common public knowledge, you’re not supposed to be able to get fired from.
He got fired from the Navy.
He got fired from the Navy just after saying goodbye to his family for a deployment from which, even after getting this news, he will not return from until late spring/early summer.
8 Sailors from my husband’s command found out that they lost their jobs today as a result of a little thing that has been talked about in back hallways and in hushed and anxious whispers called the Enlisted Retention Board, or the ERB.
The ERB and another hardly talked about program Perform to Serve, or PTS, are the Navy’s answer to a vague problem that the Navy allegedly has, known as “Overmanning.” Somehow or another, too many people were recruited to do certain jobs. So, the powers that be of the Navy–whoever they may be–decided that we needed to get rid of some people.
First there was Perform to Serve. A sailor was given six “looks” prior to being ‘allowed’ to re-enlist. If they made it through all six of those “looks” they were allowed to re-enlist if they desired. If for some reason, paperwork was submitted incorrectly, or you just didn’t pass whatever ‘muster’ was being held up, or you didn’t indicate that you would be willing to stop doing the job you were trained to do and ‘cross-rate’ into a different job you were told that, whether or not you wanted to or intended to re-enlist to serve your country you would not be allowed to. We have watched person after person after person be dealt the blow of PTS. Good friends have moved. Many of them are STILL looking for jobs and stability as a result. My husband came home on a weekly basis with a list of “Really good guys/gals who had just been PTSed out.”
Now we have the ERB. The gist of ERB, if I understand correctly, was to get rid of a certain quota of sailors in a less ceremonious manner. All the reading said it was designed to get rid of the “underperformers.” When I heard about the ERB my gut said–Quota is Quota. GOOD PEOPLE are going to be LET GO.
And that’s what is happening. Because of this supposed ‘Overmanning” of certain rates, because times are lean, because the most expensive part of the Department of Defense’s budget is *gasp* paying its personnel, Sailors are being fired. FIRED people.
The Navy calls it “Separated.” They talk about the things ‘separatees’ are ‘entitled too’ as a result of this move. But all of that is fancy language for, “Thanks for serving your country. You did a good job. You’re fired.”
The kicker is that my husband was ‘hand picked’ to go on this deployment for one reason. Are you ready for this? My husband, though he had just signed into another command and wasn’t due to deploy for another full year, was switched at the last-minute to his current command, because THAT command was so UNDERMANNED THAT IT WAS ACTUALLY ILLEGAL FOR THEM TO DEPLOY UNLESS THEY ESSENTIALLY ROBBED OTHER COMMANDS OF THEIR PERSONNEL TO BRING UP THEIR MANNING LEVEL. My husband was one of several who, at the very last-minute, was told that he would be going to a new command in an emergency situation to satisfy urgent manning needs. Some of the same rates that were UNDERMANNED in those commands are rates that were hit by the ERB because of OVERMANNING. Now… Does that strike anyone else as odd?
These men and women signed a contract which was, like any other service member, essentially a blank check promising that they would pay their very lives if asked, to serve and protect this country.
This country, this Navy, just kicked them to the curb.
What gets me on top of that is the fact that NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT IT EXCEPT THE ONES WHO HAVE BEEN SWEATING BULLETS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT IT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM. In a culture that has so hyper-romanticized the ‘military family’ why is no one doing Op-Eds on how outrageously wrong it is that men and women who have chosen to serve this nation, who are willingly signing up to do so for more than one enlistment can be–let’s use the correct term now–FIRED? We were talking with friends about this last week. It was a group of civilians and military folk intermixed. Our civilian friends looked up and said, “You can’t lose your job if you’re in the Navy.” No one knows this is even possible much less happening. The assumption is that our men and women in uniform have “job security.” Why? Because they SHOULD HAVE JOB SECURITY. If they are willing to do what the other 99% of this country is unwilling to do and serve their country, service members with good conduct should not have to worry about whether or not they will be out of work. But as too many men and women learned today, that job security should not be assumed.
All of this is to say nothing of the repercussions that this will have on the ability of our Navy to do it’s job. With fewer and fewer people with experience working in certain jobs. With fewer and fewer people to DO certain jobs, things are going to get really messy soon. Indeed, they’re getting messy already.
And you want to know one more thing that has me so hot under the collar about all this that I almost can’t breath? Many of these men and women getting this news today are on deployments. The eight sailors who were just fired from my husband’s command just left their families. They have been deemed ‘unessential personnel…’ But they can’t leave their posts to go start the process of looking for other jobs because their presence is too essential to the mission.
I don’t understand. Our friend has a family–a wonderful wife and two kiddos. He is a good man and a good sailor. He’s a first class who takes care of his guys. He is not an underperformer.
Just the same, come September, he’ll be looking for another job.
It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s time somebody paid attention.