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JOBS: Military service, civilian jobs can’t be equated

Letter by Bob West, Des Moines / The News Tribune on March 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm | 16 Comments »
March 10, 2011 2:19 pm

Re: “Give priority to jobs, not tax cuts” (letter 3-3).

The writer distorts the truth pertaining to military retirement. The reason for free medical was because the pay was so low.

I went in at $21 a month, then had a pay raise to $35 a month. The writer says we get half or two-thirds of our pay when we retire. I got $300-plus. My pay before retirement was $1,500-plus a month. Hardly half or two-thirds.

I only did 21 years, but military workdays are far longer than civilians’. I snuck in the Navy at 16 in 1944 in World War II. I was in the Seabees on Guam where we worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. That was 8,060 hours for two years compared to 3,800 hours for a civilian.

After the war, I went into the Army. From 1950 to 1951, I was in the Korean War. My time there was 12 months in combat, less three days R&R. My total “working” time was 8,757 hours. Our enemy liked to attack at 2 a.m. and we liked to attack at dawn. This made a full 24-hour day.

The writer speaks of free medical. In Korea, I froze my hands until they had no feeling. They put gasoline on the road and lit it, and I put my hands close to get feeling back. Later I got a small piece of flak in my hand and got blood poisoning. the medic gave me penicillin shots every two hours until the red line faded away. This was my “free” medical.”

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