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Eleventh Hour

April 28th, 2011

It is 1800 European time. I don’t have orders. In a little over 48 hours – I will be retired from the Army. I don’t have the paperwork back for housing allowance stop (you don’t want the housing tale – trust me). I have a DD214 that is incorrect and a rising feeling of anxiety.

I never thought it would be harder to get free from the Army than it was to get in! Tomorrow will be pretty busy. I have a briefing at Landstuhl in the morning which leaves me the afternoon to deal with finance and personnel (which includes getting new ID cards for the crew).

Did I mention that I don’t have orders?

Given that I am assigned to the Pentagon with duty in the UK and attached to USAREUR for admin support, obviously the situation is complicated. Further, I am a great believer in Murphy (aka the domino theory of events).

Something goes wrong. This leaves you outside the normal ways, means and procedures; a very bad idea when your organization numbers somewhere over half a million). Being outside of the usual limits means that you are exposed and ripe for getting knocked further off kilter. Being in a remote location is never a good idea – leaving it up to an organization in DC to support you is asking for trouble.

Shall we now add in a deployment? I started corresponding with the DC crew when it got to be mid-Feb and I had no orders. Funny thing – I had orders just a couple days later – and they were wrong. After a couple of corrections – they were still wrong.

And then the fun began. It took a full three weeks back in country before I finally got all the paperwork for the European out pushed through the system. Once I had those – my orders were really, really wrong (not just incorrect). Since the end of last week – emails have gone unanswered in DC. Since that particular office never put a phone number in signature blocks – I managed to hunt up a couple of numbers which were never answered.

Today – panic mode was setting in. You can’t get to the on-line phone books anymore unless you are on a government system computer. I am not local, I don’t have a government computer. I don’t have a local account – all I have is AKO, which wasn’t letting me do much in the way of look-ups. Bless the IMD folks at HMEDDAC – they let me on one of their open user computers and I started to work my way through the system. As it turns out – looking up Ft Myer, going to the installation page, then looking at services got me introductory phone numbers.

Early this afternoon – I actually got through on the phone. She even answered! Says she never got any emails from me or the other people here in the last week (hello – one I can understand, but all of them?) and promptly said she had been waiting for the go ahead to rescind the orders she had cut so that they could reissue them in Germany. That was exactly what I had requested in those emails which she didn’t get/read.

Then I received an email from her (a direct reply to an email from me in which I provided her one of the many emails she had not received) asking if I had received the revoke.

No – and I checked all my accounts. I emailed back – and heard nothing so I called again.

Computers are not responsible for making errors. It is people who make major mistakes, computers and Outlook just make it easier and faster to make truly bad mistakes. Outlook, for example, will keep a “frequently used addresses” list for you. When you start to type in a name, it will give you an address. If your habit pattern is to continually write new emails and add people to the CC: line rather than hitting , you will wind up with addresses from your personal address book – and not necessarily the address from which the person just wrote.

See where I am going? I had been writing from AKO. She had been responding using her address book which contained my Afghanistan address. @swa.afghanistan alphabetizes before @us.army and I never got any emails from her. No replies – nada.

As of 1500 – I received the revocation. Now it is going to be a challenge for the Heidelberg Transition Center, at the eleventh hour, to cut orders. Cross your fingers everyone.

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  1. Pat
    April 28th, 2011 at 18:00 | #1

    Oh CRIMINENTLY!!! Can’t people learn to PROOFREAD the email addresses?
    I know folk who do the same thing all the time, and never learn to
    look. As far as I’ve heard, I did this exactly once.

    Wishing you the very best of luck.

  2. Holly
    April 28th, 2011 at 18:02 | #2

    I think there are a lot of people who are just not computer savy. And, since I was already an outlier, just another opportunity for Murphy to take over. But, why not just to messages …..

  3. Bruce
    April 28th, 2011 at 19:26 | #3

    I’m glad I’m probably through with this, although my current problem is with the US Govt who can’t understand that there are precautions one takes when living OCONUS.

    by the way, my orders for AD in 2001 were sent to the AMEDD recruiter rather than me. After 32 years commissioned time, I was no longer competent to receive my own orders.

  4. Carmen
    April 28th, 2011 at 19:27 | #4

    SNAFU is a term developed specifically in the Army.

    So, if this all does not get worked out, are you un-retired? Dear heavens above!

  5. Holly
    April 28th, 2011 at 19:29 | #5

    No – it just means all the paperwork is wrong. which will become a problem if someone questions
    1) why I want a retiree mailbox
    2) why I am expecting the US gov to pay for a final move back to the states
    3) why I have the wrong retirement codes on my orders (which speaks to my priviledges and access to a number of things now and later on – to include the VA ….

    The information is in the system – my pay stops as of this last pay check.

  6. Isobel
    April 28th, 2011 at 19:31 | #6

    As I said before, good luck! :-)

  7. April 28th, 2011 at 21:00 | #7

    Wow! Exhausting. At least you figured out this little piece. Fingers firmly crossed on your behalf.

    Is it this complicated for everyone, or are you just special?

  8. Kris
    April 29th, 2011 at 15:21 | #8

    Fingers crossed. What a mess. Here’s hoping everything goes smoothly till its done!

  9. Steve
    April 29th, 2011 at 15:22 | #9

    You’re doing wonderfully under the circumstances. I’m impressed not only with your tenaciousness, but your diagnostic skills. Ain’t we got fun?

  10. Cheryl
    April 29th, 2011 at 15:27 | #10

    I’m praying!

  11. Berg
    April 29th, 2011 at 15:28 | #11

    Under pressure, it is amazing what can be accomplished. Too bad that so much of what we do has to be accomplished under these circumstances

  12. Bob
    April 29th, 2011 at 15:30 | #12

    Fingers crossed for you. I’m believing the system will work, albeit last minute rush to fix mistakes they’ve had more than enough time to repair early on. Hang in there!

  13. Pat K
    April 29th, 2011 at 16:53 | #13

    you are frustrated…I am laughing.
    I sincerely hope it all comes together for you.

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