New year brings uncertainty


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It is the beginning of a brand new year. Generally, I love this time of year. I look out at a blank slate in which I have 12 months to try to do things better, and in which I get to plan all sorts of new adventures. This year, I’m having a hard time when I begin to think too far out.

To cut its budget, the Army will involuntarily separate around 2,000 troops. This cut will include one third of officers in my husband’s year group. In December, my husband got the notice that he is among the group being considered by the separation board in March.

A couple years ago, I had a friend whose husband was facing medical board. They didn’t know if his career with the Army was finished or would continue. With an uncertain future looming, I remember watching them cut back on their lifestyle. They knew that while they could afford things right now, the extra money might come in handy in a few months.

Now I look at things I want to do over the next year and wonder if maybe we shouldn’t be padding our savings instead. Until we know that my husband will have a job in 2015, we will be balancing living our lives and having fun with building a safety net for the unknown.

Most days I’m not too worried about this upcoming board. I know my husband and I’ll put my odds on him. I also know the Army and know there are a few officers who really do not belong.

Then I look at the number of one in every three from his year group. That’s a lot of officers. Some of the good ones will get cut. If not my husband, then someone else who is working hard, willing to sacrifice for his country and taking care of a family.

Unfortunately, the Army is just too big for the people making decisions to get to know these officers and determine who does need to go and who is an asset the Army does not want to lose. The decision will be made by a few people and what they think makes a good officer on paper.

I feel that the Army is making the easy cuts, rather than taking the time to look at what really matters. This tendency is what is leading to these personnel cuts in the first place. Looking for “waste, fraud, and abuse” is a huge buzz phrase across the military.

Many service members have encountered these areas in their careers. But those aren’t the things being cut. Most “waste, fraud, and abuse” has political ties and government contracts. That’s hard to cut. Two thousand troops being cut by a board with arbitrary values: that’s easy.

All this, however, is way above my pay grade. I can do nothing to change the way things work. So, I must live with what life deals to me.

So this year, I’m not thinking too much about the future. I’m just going to live life one day at a time, making sure we save a little more each month, and making sure to enjoy our time here in Alaska each month.

 

Eagle River’s Lori Spears is the wife of a captain in the U.S. Army.

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