Tales from the Bureaucratic Crypt

There is plenty of buzz around the blogosphere about how some wounded vets who have been discharged due to their injuries, are being asked to give portions of their enlistment bonuses back because they hadn't served their full term of enlistment.

For anyone who has served time in the military is probably not surprised by this display of bureaucracy in action. It is practically standard operating procedure. If anyone has forgotten this, I refer you back to the Walter Reed brou-ha-ha from earlier this year.

The bad results of such bureaucracy are usually unintentional, but sadly are hard to combat.

The best observations on this can be read at In From the Cold:
As a retired military officer, I have no doubt that the letter was a mistake. And, I have no reason to believe that the Army isn't trying to rectify the situation.


The military, like the rest of the federal government, operates under personnel and compensation rules that are, at times, obtuse, confusing and even contradictory. Making matters worse, many of these databases can't share information, due to the Privacy Act or technical problems.

Enter Private Fox. Somewhere, an Army finance system showed that Fox was discharged before his tour was up, and that he received a reenlistment bonus. Based on the early release and the amount paid, the "system" determined that Fox must refund part of that money.

Meanwhile, other databases (correctly) identified Fox as a wounded warrior who had to leave the military due to combat-related injuries. If the compensation system could only communicate with the appropriate personnel databases, then Fox wouldn't have received that letter, demanding a refund.
For those of us in the military, this is representative of headaches we face everyday. Luckily, my worst headache is dealing with DTS.

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