Monday, December 1, 2008

No Christmas For You: Three Years!

I know how pay is supposed to work. I know the processes of how it and paperwork are supposed to function. I know its crafty ways and means. But like anything with enormous power that you are powerless against, I've begun to impart it with the flavor of a certain rude mythology. It's not that somewhere in the chain, a link has been broken. No, it's that the gods of S1 have somehow decided to make my Christmases a personal hell.

I haven't had a lot of pay problems in the Army, really, as things go. Really, I've been fairly lucky-only four or five over eight years. Why am I so bitter? Because out of those four or five, literally three of them have hit or culminated in a slim Christmas paycheck. Not in my wild single days, no, that would be too easy. No, literally every one of those three slim Christmases have hit while I've been a parent.

Once, because somehow in the mysterious world of paperwork, the Army decided that I didn't really have any dependents, and had been cheating them out of BAH for the past nine months. It was fixed, alright, and I got some hefty back pay-but still, my kid got a watercolor set for Christmas and some stocking stuffers, because it was already bought.

Then came the time when the dreaded Government Travel Card struck. There was a backlog getting travel claims settled while I was on a five month long TDY, and I was on paper rather than DTS. Well, my shop wasn't able to straighten it, and the card got turned off, leaving me to pay with my own cash or get kicked out of the hotel. That was a very, very expensive time-and guess when it started? You got it. December.

As I write this, I am now three months in to the worst Army pay problem I have ever had. One of those Army pay problems that really kicks you in the teeth and bends you over, without even so much as the courtesy of lube, or a reach-around. By my count, I'm now $6900 down. I've had to take out one personal loan and one AER loan just to keep myself and my family afloat. And the worst part is that I'm not ever going to see any of that money. The best I can hope for-the absolute /best/- is that things will be fixed and I'll stop actively being shorted. Hopefully this month.

How did it happen? That's the worst of it. I may as well curse the nebulous Finance Gods, because it's a culmination of a lot of small shit. Including my stupidity at trusting Finance, which is a thing that you never, ever, should do. They told me what I needed to get, and I got it, stupidly trusting that everything would go smoothly. Then came the hitches. They needed another piece of paper. I dug around and got it. Then they needed it submitted on a different form. Not a big deal. I wasn't discouraged just yet, because I knew that I'd get the backpay all at once, and I'd be able to pay back the loans.

It was two months after the entire paperwork runaround that they really dropped it on me. They had been telling me the exact wrong process. What I had wanted required an entirely different process. It would have taken an exception to policy to do it the other way, and despite my battalion commander looking into it, no one was having any dice. Oh, and then came the other shoe: there wouldn't be any backpay coming. When it got straightened out, the pay would only start from the specific date that something else happened.

Thanks, Army.

So now the paperwork has been resubmitted to start the process to get my pay issues fixed. It got sent last week to brigade, but somehow brigade waited a week to find something missing. They just sent it back. It's being sent up from battalion this week.

Who wants to take bets with me that it gets lost again?
Oh well. At least I already ordered and paid for the major Christmas presents already. Take that, Finance Gods!

Anyone military who wants to commiserate over the specific details is welcome to email me, it's a bit too technical to explain all in one long post.


mamaworecombatboots said...

I guess some things never change. I have a thick packet of leters my grandfather wrote while in the Navy in WWI. Almost every letter talks about trying to get his pay straightened out so he could send his $28 paycheck home to my great-grandmother.

Good luck!

lorraine said...

Hi: "Fobbits need Icecream Too" has the same problem in the Guard. Reading his stuff is "knot in the stomach aggravating" and it isn't even my problem. My son is Airforce and hasn't reported any problems. Everytime I mention the Army issues I read about (they are far more interesting) as I am am Army blog follower - he always retorts with "I was smart enough to join the AF". Maybe, but they really don't touch the ground - if you know what I mean. He is a Pilot and all but still not quite the same as kicking in doors etc. He is off to Iraq/Kuwait in a week. Oh well - I would fight for the back pay - as you were given the wrong info. Do you have legal assistance there - I know if you are in trouble - but for this stuff. Good luck and hope it works out. Take care. lorraine

JD said...

Totally feel ya on this. When I was in the Army Guard, I got the same BS. They were constantly somehow conveniently forgetting to pay me for drills, even though I was never even late for one in six years. Then, when they did manage to pay me, they'd do it in ADT pay (which is less than IDT pay) and do it day-by-day, taxing the living shit out of me. Don't even get me started on trying to get reimbursed for travel or get bonus money. I used to take out loans for the "100% free tuition" because I would get that tuition money about a semester after payment was due to the school. Once, the Army didn't pay me for six months for a week of an annual training that I did because they had no record of me being there apparently. Get this, they paid me for the week before and the week after, now how would I have magically disappeared from Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for a week and then returned? That's just scratching the surface of the problems I had, and they weren't all with pay. Best of luck on getting everything resolved... eventually.