Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Commitment Part II: By The Way, The Navy Broke It's Contract With Me

Yesterday, I published a blog post about commitments. I revealed how I was tempted to get out of the Navy by failing weight standards, but decided to honor my commitment.

I honored my end of the contract, even though the Navy broke it's end before I even signed it.

I joined the Navy through the Delayed Enlistment Program the summer after my junior year of high school. I was already enlisted as a senior, and I left for boot camp 2 days after graduation. When I signed the contract, I honestly didn't believe we'd graduate that late.

But the Navy's end of the contract was always broken.

When I signed the contract, I was promised a $1500 enlistment bonus. I didn't exact care about the bonus, but it was a bonus promised to me by contract. I would have joined anyway. I honestly didn't have any other ideas. My dad was enlisted in the Air Force. I grew up in the military. I didn't really know anything else. I would love to have been a fighter pilot, but I wasn't ready for college yet. I didn't think I was, anyway. So enlisting was my only option.

When I talked to the Air Force recruiter, he acted like he had a girl in the back room and had better things to do than talk to me. The Navy recruiter called me on a day when I was bored out of my skull and had little better to do than talk to him. The Navy offered me a better deal than the Air Force, so I took it.

I was to collect my enlistment bonus upon completion of my "A" School, or technical school. We got our bonuses on the last day of school on our way out the door. I was expecting a check for approximately $1250, which would have been what was left of the $1500 after taxes were taken out. Instead, I got a check for $800, which was what was left of $1000 after taxes at that time. When I questioned it, I was told to take it up with legal at my next duty station.

So, when I got to San Diego, I showed up at legal with the stub from the check (of course, I cashed it anyway) and my enlistment contract which showed a bonus due to me of $1500.

From what I understand, enlistment bonuses are MUCH larger now. But in 1992, they were tiny.

Legal told me that $1000 was the standard bonus for my rate (Fire Controlman), and the people at MEPS (the Military Enlistment Processing Station) did not have the authority to promise me more than the standard amount. I asked for the language in the contract stating such. I was instead told that if I wanted to push the issue, the Navy would let me out for breach of contract. I always figured that was a line of bull, but as a 19 year old E-4, I could only do so much.

I said I'd think about it. Many times over the next 5 years, I asked myself why I didn't take it.

So you see, I kept my end of the contract even though the Navy broke its end before I even signed it.
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