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Thread: Disappearing Healthcare Bennies for Force-Shaping Participants

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    Senior Member Capt Alfredo's Avatar
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    Disappearing Healthcare Bennies for Force-Shaping Participants

    Surprised we haven't seen any talk on this subject.

    http://www.jqpublic-blog.com/excuses...ration-revoke/

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    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Really well written and highlights a crap situation.

    I see two themes:

    1. The situation of those who were "force shaped" getting bad information.

    2. The big picture process that allowed (neglected to prevent) bad or ambiguous policy from being disseminated.

    Both of these happened when the Navy conducted their Enlisted Retention Board a couple of years ago -- bad gouge impacted people. As far as people without that window of medical coverage -- that sucks. The stoic/objective guy in me who looks at numbers says "6 months of medical coverage wasn't budgeted for -- how much will it cost?" The 'take care of people' guy in me says "if we told them they would be getting it, we should honor our word." In reality, it wasn't budgeted for and I would imagine the Air Force is trying to figure a way to honor their word and realign money from one funding line to another. Unfortunately, in the interim there are people & families caught in the middle.

    The Navy and Air Force have the same problem that was very well addressed in this paragraph:

    There’s another way of looking at this situation, and it’s worth a glance. I’ve counseled for years now that if the Air Force is given an operational warfighting problem to solve, it’ll find the most direct path to the target at highest velocity. But given an administrative problem to solve, it’ll quickly find the most inefficient way to fail miserably. This holds true partially because of the sharp differences in standards and expectations between these two worlds. Operational squadrons know what matters. They know what is expected of them. They prioritize and succeed where it counts, leaving lesser-included stuff for last. Administrative support agencies lack this skill. They work on a rote production basis, averse to the setting and shifting of priorities. They see their operational customers as nagging sources of obligation, when in fact these obligations form the entire reason support agencies exist. These are generalizations, sure. But they’re accurate.
    The difference between operations and administration is night and day, and the mentalities of people in those worlds are huge. Operations are important -- it is what we are expected to do and why the military exists. Admin is important, because it involves everyone. The ratio of warfighter to support personnel is about 1:7 in the military ... 7 people supporting one guy pulling a trigger or dropping a bomb. An operator can bemoan an admin clerk, a cook, a pay specialist for not being "in the fight", but wait until the operator's sick family member is not in DEERS, the operator is not getting fed or not getting paid ... then mission is impacted too.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.

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    Member Filterbing's Avatar
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    Wasn't this cut "supposed" to be over five years? Since they bumped the cuts to year one, there should have been some budget gains that could be used.

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    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filterbing View Post
    Wasn't this cut "supposed" to be over five years? Since they bumped the cuts to year one, there should have been some budget gains that could be used.
    You would think, but in the way that budgeting from the Appropriations Bills work; no. Now, what could be done to is expend funds from a different line (if there is overage), then in the next FY reprogram money from the line that got beefed up previously to the line that was borrowed from.

    I used to think that the term "different pots of money" was complete BS, until I worked on Capitol Hill and learned the Budget and Appropriations process. It is a headache, but now why it is not as easy as you would think to move money around makes sense to me.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stalwart View Post
    The difference between operations and administration is night and day, and the mentalities of people in those worlds are huge. Operations are important -- it is what we are expected to do and why the military exists. Admin is important, because it involves everyone. The ratio of warfighter to support personnel is about 1:7 in the military ... 7 people supporting one guy pulling a trigger or dropping a bomb. An operator can bemoan an admin clerk, a cook, a pay specialist for not being "in the fight", but wait until the operator's sick family member is not in DEERS, the operator is not getting fed or not getting paid ... then mission is impacted too.
    As someone who worked the admin side I have to agree. I think part of the problem (at least in the AF) is that we have shifted our resources from manpower to systems. In finance for example, the people at the top really believe that by giving teh customer access to DTS, Leaveweb, MyPay, etc that you don't need our help anymore. As these systems have been launched manpower has gone away sometimes even before the launch. I know at the last base I worked customer service we were in an unwinnable situation. We were supporting something like 5000 civilians, 10,000 reservists, and about 4,000 active duty. We were stuck trying to attempt this with only 17 people.

    Every single time a distinguished visitor would stop by I would explain the situation they put us in. I even explained this directly to the Acting Secretary of the Air Force at one point. They always promised help was on the way but that help never arrived or if it did arrive it was some bullshit system the customer didn't know how to use and had to desire to learn.

    Right before I separated I was working about 10 hours per day 6 days per week. Even though not everyone in customer service cares there are a few that do. The problem is you can't save the world by yourself. You have to prioritize what issues are important. This probably led to me providing poor customer service to some people. For example, if you stop by finance and you want to know what the difference between claiming 3 deductions and 4 will be in the amount of taxes you pay, I really don't have time to help you. I'm busy trying to get a travel voucher paid for someone who's travel card is 60 days overdue and he needs to deploy next week. It sounds like me being an asshole when I tell you that you can google the information yourself but honestly we aren't manned to help you with that problem.

    Some people aren't as good at prioritizing as others though. I think that is where the disconnect is. Say for example you are deployed and your mortgage allotment went to the wrong bank. This is something you need fixed immidiately. The problem is when you call the customer service number you can't get through because there are 10 other people ahead of you asking questions about their taxes and per diem rates on a hypthetical TDY they want to go on so they can make some extra christmas money. If I don't answer the 10 callers ahead of you they tend to be quite persistant. They will send 3 different emails, call 5 times, complain to their first sergeant, and also drop by during walk in hours. All the while they are simply tying up valuable time for the customer service rep who is trying to figure out where the deployed guys's allotment went. The problem is the deployed guy can't stop by everyday until his question gets answered whereas the local customer will. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets greased while the bearing on the other one is sparking and about to fall off.

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    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeRandomGuy View Post
    As someone who worked the admin side I have to agree. I think part of the problem (at least in the AF) is that we have shifted our resources from manpower to systems. In finance for example, the people at the top really believe that by giving teh customer access to DTS, Leaveweb, MyPay, etc that you don't need our help anymore. As these systems have been launched manpower has gone away sometimes even before the launch. I know at the last base I worked customer service we were in an unwinnable situation. We were supporting something like 5000 civilians, 10,000 reservists, and about 4,000 active duty. We were stuck trying to attempt this with only 17 people.
    The Navy kind of did the same thing. I am not a pay or admin specialist, but twice a year I am logging on to at least four different databases to verify my information is correct and update changes to various personnel things. Since I only do this every six months, I screw it up. It takes me about 2 hours what it used to take 10 minutes to do while seated with someone at our PSD.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stalwart View Post
    The Navy kind of did the same thing. I am not a pay or admin specialist, but twice a year I am logging on to at least four different databases to verify my information is correct and update changes to various personnel things. Since I only do this every six months, I screw it up. It takes me about 2 hours what it used to take 10 minutes to do while seated with someone at our PSD.
    Things do seem to have gotten a little out of whack. It seems like just about every organization has pushed some of its services back to the customer. When I was a young A1C one of my additional duties was being an Ammo Account custodian. First of all, I have no idea why we needed specific pallets of ammo assigned to us. Either way, once per quarter I had to drive out to the storage facility, be escorted in behind the locked gate and do an inventory of our ammo. Isn't that something ammo could do for me? Since it was stored in their facility it seems like maybe they could keep track out it for us. Especially since we literally never used any of it. Eventually common sense did prevail and ammo started managing all the accounts on base except for the Security Forces account.

    I could point out a lot of other situations just like that. At one point I was the Self Aid and Buddy Care representative for my unit. I know basically nothing about first aid and I was pretty much the worst person to try and teach that class. Guess what, I still had to do it. I think I taught several classes on SABC and literally none of them provided any value. Shouldn't the person who actually knows what they are doing teach the class?

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