Friday, November 20, 2009

Soldier Care

During the recent Transfer of Authority (TOA), during which we newbies officially took over this mission from our predecessors, one of the talks we heard from a Very Important Person had emphasized Soldier Care as a priority, given the frequent and repeated deployments of Reserve-component personnel.

It's certainly a topic near and dear to *my* heart, and seems to square well with the Jesuit tradition of "cura personalis" [care of the whole person] under which I've been living for more than 30 years now.  It's what I attempt to do, to the best of my ability, as I look after my Soldiers.

Imagine my surprise, then, when one of my Soldiers told me that our Battalion had approved his emergency leave to return home to be with his wife after complications in her pregnancy had developed, only to be told by someone farther up the food chain that he could not take the military flight to Western Europe leaving the next day.  That would have saved him $700 in the cost of getting home ($1500 to fly out of the airport near here), as the Army doesn't pay travel costs for that kind of leave.

As a consequence of that official's decision, my Soldier did not go home, and the Army will pay $1500 to fly him home for leave at some point in the future.  (He'd have given up his regular R&R leave to go home for the birth of his child, which would have saved the Army money.)

Moreover -- and more disturbing -- he and his wife have now decided that he will resign his Commission upon his redeployment at the end of our time here.  He takes a rather large pay cut to come on deployment, so his service stems from something other than a need for this job in order to pay bills.

So let's do the math:  By preventing the Soldier from taking a military flight to Europe (it was going there anyway, and the aviation people had told him seats were available), the Army will wind up spending $1500 more than otherwise would have been the case, AND they're going to lose a really good Officer, who's good at what he does in the Army, and has felt a strong desire to be of service to his Country.

I guess "Soldier Care" and "cura personalis" are really NOT the same things, after all.....

(Their healthy baby boy was born last night after labor was induced.  Mom, son, and Dad are all doing fine.)

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Perhaps, Tim, it simply is nearing the time when Dad needs to stop soldiering and come home to his family and a civilian career of service of some form. HP just doesn't always pay attention to the math when Divine Order needs to accomplish what It Wills :-) Maybe....

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