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August 28, 2005

Hey, all you auld farts out there...

...doesn't this sound familiar? Edited because I'm not supposed to publish the details, so I went with a fill-in-the-blank format. And all we auld guys and gals in the service can fill in the blanks with no problem!

For those who don't know - welcome to a "Congressional". Disgruntled troop/family member/civilian you looked at funny on the street writes their congressperson about whatever. The legislator then sends a note to the Pentagon. And within 24 hours you are getting a phone call from higher, informing you that *you* have 24 hours to respond, hardcopy to follow. Most complaints are picayune, some are substantive, some are petty vengeances. All of them eat your time, and give you exposure you *don't* generally want. And then there's the ones that are inadvertent...

This was sent to me by a frequent commenter, regarding his son who is in service. The good details have been omitted to protect the innocent.

We talked to ___ on the phone today and there is a little interesting development regarding the [installation in an undisclosed place].

After the article came out in the [name deleted] newspaper he decided to send a copy to [Congressperson X] along with a short note explaining that he is from [location] and had voted for [Congressperson X].

It had been several weeks and _____ heard nothing back. Not even a short note saying thanks for writing. Well this week ____ came into [work] and the [senior non-com] looked at him and said “We have to talk … follow me to the [Boss's] office”. ______ was wondering what had happened and what he had done wrong. The [Boss] then asked him what he had been up to and ______ was stumped. He then asked him what he had sent [Congressperson X] and ____ said he had just forwarded a copy of the news article. The [Boss] said “No you didn’t .. you also sent a paragraph along and I have a copy of what you wrote!”

It seems that [Congressperson X's] office had contacted the [Supreme Leader of a US Armed Force} who had contacted the [Minion Flag Officer] in [undisclosed location], who had contacted [Senior Field Grade] in [another undisclosed location], who then called ______'s [Boss] in [the undisclosed duty station]. Basically after they had scared ____ to death the [Boss] then told him he hadn’t written anything out of line since he blamed no one nor pointed fingers. The [Boss] told him officially that he shouldn’t write any more letters or send any more emails but if he did he was to let the [Boss] know. Then the [Boss] said that officially higher ups were upset but that unofficially there were people in [Intermediate Headquarters] that would like to give _____ a medal.

In the end _____ wasn’t in trouble but it seems that [US Armed Forces] officers (especially the [4-Bagger in Charge] don’t like [Congresspersons] calling when they aren’t expecting it.

_____ says he doesn’t want to see his name in print again for a long time. He says he doesn’t want [Flag Officers] to know his name or even know he is in the [US Armed Forces].


Take care.

I will note that it is *borderline* illegal to tell a subordinate, "The [Boss] told him officially that he shouldn’t write any more letters or send any more emails but if he did he was to let the [Boss] know."

It's an unenforceable order, too. Every citizen has the *right* to pester their representatives. But if yer a servicemember, just remember that if your chain of command is bad enough for you to need to write the congressperson, they probably are *also* not going to like the fact you did...