Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Army Recruiting: Draft of the Dead

Today I see this headline:

Bush’s Iraq plan to include more troops

But where will these troops come from? For the answer to that, you have to read this story:

Army urges dead soldiers to return to duty

WASHINGTON - The Army said Friday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.

The letters were sent a few days after Christmas to more than 5,100 Army officers who had recently left the service. Included were letters to about 75 officers killed in action and about 200 wounded in action.

Wow! I know they’re hard up for troops, but…Of course it’s all just a horrible mistake, but that’s a hell of a thing for a surviving spouse or parent to get in the mail, isn’t it? One thing I can tell you--this is exactly the kind of thing that pisses off Cindy Sheehan.

What I can’t tell you are the exact contents of the letter that these dead soldiers received. I’ve been all over the Internet, but I can’t seem to find a copy of that letter.

So I went to the US Army recruiting site to get a few answers from “Sergeant Star,” the Army’s virtual guide. Sergeant Star is a computer-generated recruiting sergeant who will answer your questions about Army recruitment in real time, online. You simply type in a question and Sergeant Star will answer it, to inspiring background music. He’s kind of like the Army’s “Magic 8-Ball.” (To ask Sergeant Star about enlisting, go to http://www.goarmy.com/ChatWithStar.do )

Anyway, I went to the site “undercover”, posing as one of the dead combat veterans to get the Sergeant’s take on this whole “recruiting the dead” thing. Here are my questions and his answers:

SGT STAR: Welcome Bill. How can I help you today?

Bill: I was killed in action and I have been dead for some time now, Sergeant Star. But I recently received a letter asking me to reenlist. To what kind of duty can I be assigned if I am dead?

SGT STAR: The Army has many programs to support the families of our Soldiers. See some of the Soldier and family services on this page.
Here's more:

* Choosing Posts
* Base Locations
* Contract Length

Bill: Well, it’s not so much for my family that I’m asking. What I’m really asking is, what sort of post can I expect to get if I’m already dead?

SGT STAR: I think you may be looking for more detail than I have. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, click "Ask Live Help".

Bill: I don’t think “Live Help” can help me. And what if I get shot to death again?

SGT STAR: It's possible you could be injured in any job, not just the Army. The Army prides itself in training of all Soldiers to ensure they are prepared for any situation. In the event of injury, Soldiers are treated by some of the best medical professionals in the world on the Army healthcare team.

Bill: It’s a little late for medical treatment. Are there any extra benefits for me, if I reenlist post-mortem?

SGT STAR: The U.S. Army has one of the largest Health Care networks in the world that is made available to every Soldier and their family members as part of the Army benefits package at little or no cost to the Soldier. Availability of services varies from post to post. There are also programs for family members with special medical needs.

Bill: Hmm. I don’t think you get this “dead” thing I’m talking about here, Sergeant Star. I’m just kind of worried that I’ll be taken out by an improvised explosive device (IED) or something next time. Have they properly armored the bottoms of our vehicles yet?

SGT STAR: Here's more:
• Why Join?
• Benefits Clarification
• Contract Length
• Health Care Clarification
• Reenlistment/Reclassification

Bill: Whoa, hold on there, Sergeant, not so fast. I've already been buried. Who pays to dig me out, is that on me or does Uncle Sam take care of that?

SGT STAR: The United States Army pays on a government scale, according to your rank and time in service. In addition to this basic pay, special duties or skills may qualify you for specialty pay. The Army also provides allowances for housing, meals and uniforms, to offset the cost of living. Soldiers are paid on monthly/semi-weekly schedule reported to you on your Leave and Earnings Statement on the 1st and 15th of the month.

Bill: Offsetting the cost of living is no longer an issue for me, Sergeant Star. My only special skill these days is my ability to remain motionless for long periods of time. I guess I could stand guard or something, would I get extra for that?

Here's more:
• Promotions
• Ranks

Bill: Possibility of “Promotions” this time if I reenlist, eh? Okay, fair enough.

SGT STAR: Once you decide to join the Army, your success depends on your qualifications, desire, commitment and demonstrated leadership potential.

Bill: Well, I think people like me have already demonstrated our "commitment." Thank you, Sergeant Star.

SGT STAR: You’re welcome.


At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"SGT STAR: It's possible you could be injured in any job, not just the Army." Sounds like an excuse Rumsfeld would have had.

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Especially by IEDs by the road. They are everywhere here.


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