reservist fighting fifth war call up

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Just_A_Mom, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Reservist Fighting Fifth War Call-Up
    Miami Herald | July 10, 2007
    PORT ST. LUCIE - Erik Botta believes he's done right by his country.

    Days after 9/11, as a young Army reservist, he volunteered to go to war. He was soon in Afghanistan.
    The next year, he was sent out again, this time to Iraq, part of a Special Operations team.
    In the next two years, he was sent to Iraq again. And again.
    He thought he was done. But now, the Army wants Sgt. Botta one more time.
    The 26-year-old Port St. Lucie man has been ordered to report to Fort Jackson, S.C., on July 15 for his fifth deployment. And that has compelled Botta, a first-generation American who counts himself a quiet patriot, to do something he never thought he'd do: sue the Army.
    "I'm proud of my service," he said. "I never wanted it to end like this."
    Nearly seven years into his eight-year commitment to the reserves, the personal costs are higher for Botta. He could lose his home. His job at Sikorsky, working on the Black Hawk military helicopter, could be on the line. He's halfway to his electrical engineering degree, planning a career in defense work, but his professors say he'll suffer a significant setback if he is deployed. He doesn't mention the danger another deployment would bring, but his wife and parents do.
    Deployment News and Resources
    "I'm proud of being in the Army," he said. "They taught me responsibility. They taught me maturity. And they gave me a good toolbox of technical skills to work with. I think I'd be more valuable to my country at this point by being here, getting my degree and working at Sikorsky."
    In a lawsuit he expects to file this week in federal court in Florida, Botta says he will ask for an exemption or delay so that he can complete his engineering studies. He will also ask the court to prevent the Army from requiring him to report for duty until the legal questions are settled.
    His attorney, Mark Waple -- a West Point graduate and former military judge advocate who practices in Fayetteville, N.C. -- says Botta's case shows that the Army is inconsistent in its decisions when selecting reservists for involuntary mobilization, over and over.
    "This is an arbitrary decision by the Army Human Resources Command with no rational basis," Waple said.
    THE CONSEQUENCES
    Deployment now would mean that he could no longer afford his house -- his wife would probably have to move in with her parents. Plans to start a family would be on hold. He would probably have to repeat some engineering courses after his return, and he might even lose the job he just landed about a month ago. Previously, he worked at Pratt & Whitney in the Joint Strike Fighter and Raptor engine programs.
    "This is no peace protester," Waple said. "I wouldn't have touched this case with a 10-foot pole if it was. He's put the boots on and been in combat."
    Although Botta knew there was a risk that he would be called to duty again, he assumed that it was very slight, given his four combat deployments, pursuit of an engineering degree and employment with military contractors, he said.
    "The world pretty much stopped when I got the notice," said Botta, weighing each word. "I've sacrificed a lot for the military. I didn't want to end with litigation, but I feel I've done my service to my country. I've done what I signed up for in more ways than one."
    The Army doesn't agree. It turned down one appeal, with another pending but unofficially denied. Last year, it granted Botta a 287-day delay, pushing his deployment date to this month, after an inquiry by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
    "This is something we're starting to see more of," Bryan Gulley, Nelson's spokesman, said about repeat deployments. "It's one of the reasons Nelson has been saying we have to stop relying so heavily on the [National] Guard and the Reserve."
    Alert: Sen. Jim Webb Seeks Time Off for Deployed
    Army spokeswoman Maj. Cheryl Phillips issued a statement Friday regarding Botta's case, saying in part that the Army evaluates "each request independently to determine if the mobilization will cause undue hardship for the Soldier or the family. We appreciate the sacrifice our citizen Soldiers and their families make when called to active duty."
    The Army has granted 87 percent of delays requested by Soldiers -- most are 90 days or less -- and 54 percent of exemptions, the statement said. It did not comment on Botta's case, but the Army said in a letter sent to him regarding one of his appeals that he did not "meet the requirements for a hardship exemption/discharge."
    Botta joined the reserves in 2000 and asked to be activated in 2001 -- "I felt like I had to do something" after 9/11, he said -- and his tours of duty have lasted up to eight months. He left active duty at the end of 2004.
    Under his current reporting date, he might not even complete the semester; classes end in August.
    Attorney Waple says the Army has granted an exemption in at least one similar case, in 2005. A 24-year-old North Carolina enlisted Army reservist with two combat tours under his belt -- in Iraq and Kosovo -- was involuntarily mobilized while attending community college in Raleigh, pursuing a degree in chemical engineering.
    He had completed five of his eight years in the service, Waple said. The man's first appeal was denied, but after Waple filed a second appeal, he was given an exemption and honorably discharged, Waple said.
    Botta's case may be even stronger. He has completed more years of service and more combat tours, has a job in the defense industry while pursuing his engineering degree, and was granted a 287-day delay already, Waple noted.
    Botta has tried hard to avoid a suit, Waple said, filing every appeal available within the Army's justice system. Botta and his wife have sent letters to everyone from Sen. Nelson to the White House. His professors and employers have sent letters, too, on his behalf.
    "It's an awkward thing for any serviceman," Waple said. "He has a very strong sense of responsibility and duty to serve."
    In his own letters to the Army, Botta notes that he is attending school on the GI Bill, maintaining a 3.9 grade-point average, and is grateful that he can use his Army skills in his work with military contractors.
    "If I was to go back to the Army at this juncture in my life, I could very well lose my house and be in considerable debt for years to come," Botta wrote. "I am proud of the fact that I can still continue to serve my country with the knowledge that I have acquired from the U.S. Army."
    The Army's response during the appeals, Botta said, has been "minimal communication."
    Carlos Botta, his father, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina, said he applauded his son's military service -- until now. "He served in Afghanistan. He served three times in Iraq. The odds are getting slimmer and slimmer for him. He might get hurt. Don't you think he has served the country enough already?"
    WIFE'S CONCERNS
    Botta's wife, Jennifer, who married him between Iraq stints, said she can't face the idea of his returning to combat. Losing their house, painful as that would be, is the least of her worries.
    "He's been over there four times. There's only so many times you can go over without something happening . . . ." Her voice trailed off.
    During his deployments, she said, she would watch television news reports about bombings and then count the hours until he called. "My cellphone was in my hand 24 hours a day," she said. "I never let it go."
    For Erik Botta, who keeps his hair military-short, the last few months have played out as a struggle between his battle-hardened loyalty to the Army and an abiding sense of what's right.
    "We were in a wartime situation," he said. "I did what they asked me to do. I went over and did it. And then when I was leaving, they told me I could leave. They told me to get on with my life, and I did. Now it seems they've changed their mind."
    But he doesn't regret his service -- at all. "I'm proud to be in the Army, and I'm proud -- cheesy as it might sound -- I'm proud to be an American."
     
  2. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    At the risk of sounding totally brutal, I'm going to be totally brutal.

    WHAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! :rolleyes:

    Get over it. Your husband is in the Reserves, and he's there voluntarily. These things happen in wars. If you think you've got it rough, go talk to the wives and widows of those who were in the battle area for YEARS at a stretch during WWII.

    I'm not saying the current deployment schedule is efficient, correct, fair, or anything else. All I am saying is that while you wear the uniform, your *** belongs to Uncle Sam to send where he sees fit. You know that going in and you also know that once you give him your *** he can hold onto it for as long as he feels the need. It's not fair, but that's the nature of the beast.

    Suck it up and soldier, soldier, and accept our sincere thanks for your service. Godspeed and come home safe.
     
  3. USNA69

    USNA69 Banned

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    Sounds as if he has been "in the battle area for YEARS".

    I am totally unfamiliar with Army contracts but apparently this guy signed up for an eight year reserve contract. About a year into the contract, he went active duty for four years, deploying four times to a war zone, at least one of them of eight months duration. After the active duty, those infamous "Theys" told him to get on with his life, implying that he was done with his commitment. He got on with his life up to and including signing up for classes this summer, aware that his 287 day deferment was going to expire in the middle of these classes.

    He, on his own, with patriotic motives, basically, in his mind, changed his enlistment to an active duty "contract". Both he and "They" felt he had served his fair share and he got on with his life with three years still remaining on his reserve contract. Things in Iraq bog down and bodies are needed to fill billets. His name probably sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Is it legal? Absolutley. Is it short sighted in that examples like this will kill reserve recruiting? Sure. Before coming on active duty, should he have sat down with Admin and somehow renegotiated his contract, if possible? Maybe. Is it fair? Probably not.
     
  4. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    I meant for years without a break.

    Don't get me wrong. I feel bad for him, and he has certainly done his part and is to be commended for it, but that's life in the military.

    As you said, though.... It may be legal, but it won't help recruitment much.

    Sheesh..... Maybe we DO need a draft after all... :confused:
     
  5. USNA69

    USNA69 Banned

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    I think the whole reserve concept needs to be looked at closely. In many MOCs, the Army advertises that up to half of the personnel are reserves and that the reserves, being only 5% of the Army budget, are extremely cost effective. What they appear to be doing is deploying the reserves to the maximum extent possible, and then not having to pay them when they return to the states. They aren't getting the training that the active duty soldiers receive. There is a Marine in our church whose reserve battalion is getting ready to deploy for the third time since 9/11. Being a policeman, he has a very "reserve friendly" employer. However, how many others can maintain gainful emploment between mobilizations and more important, is this battalion as prepared as an active duty one which has been training between deployments?
     
  6. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Here is another:
    The reservists have been and are still being expected to fight this war. I guess every recruiter should tell every reservist that they should work at Wal-Mart and rent their home month-to-month for the 8 years of their "Part-time" Army job.

    It is one thing for a country to expect our reserves to fight in an emergency for their country - that is why we have them - but to be expected to pick up the Active duty slack for 5 going on 6 years now does seem a little excessive to me.
     
  7. USNA69

    USNA69 Banned

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    Breaking leases is not a factor. It is allowed under the latest version of the Soldiers and Sailors Act.

    But your careeer delay comments are very valid. It is kind of a Catch 22. Reservists should be people who are successful in their civilian careers but success in these careers would prohibit reserve duty.
     
  8. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    It isn't so much about breaking leases but affording a home and financial stability.
    Why would anyone stay in the Reserves or Nat'l Guard if the hardship is excessive.

    I think this soldier's predicament is due to poor management than the needs of the Army.
     
  9. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    As a member of the female gender I reserve the right to change my mind ! :wink:
    After further inquiry - wanting the get the "story behind the story" - I found this from the AP"

    Now, I find myself agreeing with Zaphod! :redface:

    Now what do you guys think??
     
  10. USNA69

    USNA69 Banned

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    Jeez, what a hoot. Month, three months, or 15 days, combined with deployment is a dichotomy. He was probably TDY and also receiving per diem. No wonder the war is costing a fortune, jet setting soldiers around like this.

    I can see how he can dupe the liberal press but a WP grad lawyer? Oh, never mind.
     

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