Book Review: Columbus Friends Book Blog

Missing Documents and Missing Benefits

Summary

So as this book starts, I am not fully sure it applies to me. After all, the book says that it was written for an online community that was already familiar with a National Guard incident involving George W Bush. I can honestly say that I am not familiar with this incident; and I had to dig into the Wikipedia page first before going any further in this book. I did so and got a rough idea of the controversy surrounding the issue. I then went back to the book and immediately got stopped.

This book doesn’t gently introduce the subject and gradually lead into a few counter-point arguments. It starts off with talking about court cases, often citing specific sources. Articles and court references are made and I really have no way of proving or denying them. I think that left me feeling a little frustrated. Again I felt like this book really wasn’t suited for me, but rather for someone who was already battling the courts on this issue.

Then a particular sentence struck home and I felt like I understood the author a bit better. This is a rough paraphrase: “I have $74k in college debt… the courts were not interested in answering questions about benefits as a dual-status technician.” Now I feel like I understand where the passion comes from. The author has been burned fairly bad, and sees those in power as getting a free pass. Records that are vital to prove their performance disappeared. Part of those records may have caused George W Bush trouble in his elections.

I don’t have any military service in my employment history, so I don’t fully understand the mentality about not having digital copies. Having paper copies of documents that are full of bugs and rat poop doesn’t seem verify efficient. I get the sense that this system is a shadow of bureaucracy and not truly for those it was intended to serve. What’s more, beyond the college debt, is that the author had a variety of troubles while serving the country. In one of the final paragraphs of the book they mention that there sexually assaulted and got in a number of confrontations. They admit that the only reason they joined the National Guard was for the benefits. That makes this whole thing much more heartbreaking.

The book ends with a number of court documents. I’ll be honest, these documents are way to dry for me to read through. Beyond that, the way these are formatted, I can’t really zoom in and read exactly what they are saying. Some of the documents are fairly straightforward while others are too tiny or don’t work well on the screen I am using to read this book.

In summation, this book is a very specific book for a very specific audience. I think that anyone with military experience, trying to get benefits via the courts, should read this book. I think it shows a particular story about how the author tried to get this accomplished. However, this is not a book about political intrigue and cloak/dagger deals done in a back alley. Instead this book illustrates the author’s personal struggle to get records into the light so they could get the benefits they deserve. It is my fondest wish that the author has success with this and can get the courts to understand their plight. I don’t think that military records should be this difficult to work through. I can’t imagine what the average military member would do if this were the average requirement to get any benefits. It makes me shudder.

http://columbusfriends.org/books/still-waiting-a-memoir/

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