Category Archives: military

Frontier Airlines really honors the Military- a review of a roundtrip flight

Recently, on Government business I flew on Frontier Airlines. So, the class of ticket that the Contract Rate is on is CLASSIC which includes free TV and 2 free bags. Nonetheless, when I checked in, because I used my military ID, both times I flew this time, the agents were amazing- they were ready to assist and tell me that bags fly free for military despite class of ticket. What a nice thing Frontier has done. United Airlines does not even do that and they are the Contract Carrier for the military.

In any case, it was nice to have TV on two very long flights- VERY LONG! It would have been nice to have free snacks like Southwest, but I suppose I will bring my own food like I always have done on these airlines. All in all, I have to say, this time, I had a great FRONTIER experience and maybe with Republic taking over, they are getting better. In any case, Frontier Airlines does honor military- show your ID card to check your bags for free and show it on the flight again to see if you can get TV too!

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Women? Sure, the military welcomes women to serve but do they?

I know I am a reservist but all my observations and experiences lead me to believe that the military is NOT conducive for working moms. I know they let women in and claim to have great benefits but there are some drawbacks for women who want to serve and at the same time, fulfill obligations to their family especially their young children.

For example, as an active duty member, you get a whopping six weeks of paid leave after delivering – wow! 6 weeks! Active or Reserves, anyone including a working mom can be deployed within 6 months of having a baby or within 6 months of coming off a profile (medical or otherwise). That’s right, folks, after 6 months, you are again world-wide qualified and despite all we know about breastfeeding and how healthy it is for a baby, after 6 months, you can be deployed to a remote, foreign location without your child. Nice!

And even when you return, Reserves or Active, there is no requirement for the military to provide you a separate room or a special room to nurse or pump. The Pentagon has one because someone took a stand and made a difference but unless you have a private office, are you really going to be motivated to ask for this accommodation? After all, it will cause waves and you have to explain what you are doing. More and more men are aware that women pump but most men in the military have wives who stay at home. What’s a pump? Shouldn’t you be at home? Why are you here? The stigma still prevails despite decades of attempts to reform.

You are required to attend long meetings and expected to stay put – after all, leaving in the middle of a commander’s call or a commander’s meeting is rude even if you have to pump or if you are pregnant and have to pee. You better coordinate in advance or you could look like an idiot walking out on the top guy – ie. your boss. What if you work on the flight line? What if you work in the maintenance shop or a place where it is not conducive to even find you a private place to pump? The military, I have noticed, has not made strides to keep the women they so “gladly” welcomed due to the legal requirements. In the end, like all cases, women have to choose and make a tough choice- family or serve? They choose family but why do they have to make that tough decision? Oh I know why, because while the military welcomes women, they do not really do much to keep them and retain them – quality of life just does not support women serving unless they make sacrifices in the form of their family, nursing their small infant, and so on. I really hope the military can make strides and become the microcosm of society it needs to be. All eyes front and center!

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Medicine, Drugs, and the HMOs

Since I left the military active duty, I have felt the pinch like all Americans do of rising health care costs and paying for prescriptions. I also now incur dental expenses. In the military, the biggest perk was the free health care, free drugs, and while quality of care was relatively okay, at least it carried the right price tag- FREE!

Now, with a growing family, and paying $XXX bi-weekly to maintain said insurances – dental and health, it seems like a never-ending cycle- between copays, Rx copays, and often getting screwed by the dentist and doctors alike on hidden costs, it seems I am always paying for something. Heaven forbid your kid be a kid because if he or she falls, just pay your $50 urgent care copay and kiss 4-5 hours of your life good bye. While you control the quality of care under our insurance by choosing who you go to see, you can’t control much else. If the docs or dentists do not find a way to screw you, trust me, the drug companies will. Recently, for example, I learned that there is no longer a generic for Albuterol- the inhaler. Post 2008 the only generic for Albuterol was pulled because of CFCs – what?! We are the biggest polluting nation due to cars, emissions, and factories in the world, and we are concerned about CFCs released from a tiny albuterol inhaler? Are you kidding me? Another ploy to screw Americans and worse, kids. Think about it – if you are a single mom or dad making about $40,000 before taxes, and now your kid has asthma and you need inhalers all the time at $35/inhaler, that really adds up.

Meanwhile, Canada can still sell Salbuterol inhalers and they are half the cost. I am not sure what these drug companies are thinking. I also hate that I have to pay a $20 copay to go see a doc just so I can get a script for something I could diagnose myself with. Why can’t I find more drugs on the open market like penicillin, or even inhalers? They are for personal limited use and trust me, abuse would be minimal if things were more readily available. The thing is – the kids that are gonna abuse drugs like cough syrup, they will continue to abuse anything- but why are we preventing 95% of the population from getting care and drugs they need just because of the few. I do not get it – wait, I do. It is all about profit, all about the bottom line and in America, it is not about the patient, the child or the sick old lady with cancer…. it truly is about the drug companies making their money, the doctor getting his or copay even though they do nothing, and the HMOs and PPOs getting their money too. In the end, who gets squeezed? The consumer- the American who is working hard, paying their premiums, and copays only to discover they really cannot afford the medicine their child needs or they need to get better. So they get sicker, or contract other diseases, and then who ends up paying when they have to rely on the State? You guessed it! The consumer – because the insurance companies will pass the cost on to them, and so will the Government through taxes. The drug companies and doctors don’t care about the patient but are more interested in getting paid as well.

I hope something can be done to overhaul our current system in America because there is no doubt it is broken. Unless you are serving in the nation’s military, you are probably an America who is getting squeezed by the doctors, the drug companies, and the insurance companies, so, it is time for change in our health care system and while I do not believe Government is the answer to all, I think the Government does need to clean up the mess… not by taking it over but rather, by regulating the industry better and perhaps passing laws to make meds more readily available which will open up generics. Perhaps passing laws to regulate the health and drug industry will help and we deifnitely more options in healthcare so companies can clean up their act if they want your business or your employer’s business.

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Change, Change, Change

Yesterday I had the first opportunity to meet who my new boss at my full-time job is going to be and this weekend, I will meet my new commander down at my Reserves position too. Two new bosses in a week! Wow! That is a lot of change. Sure, I am not new to the concept, with 7 years active duty, and several different positions at each assignment, I had the opportunity to have many different bosses. Each boss over the years has had his or her own management/leadership style and each has likes and dislikes and as I have learned after having 6 bosses in 7 years, you kinda have to deal with it and like a box of Whitman’s Sampler Chocolates, you just do not know what you’re gonna get. In the end, the boss is the boss and you have to adapt and overcome.

In my case, both new bosses have something in common- they are both policy men- they are bureaucrats, rule followers, color within the lines, and love policy and process. I could, of course, care less for policy, process, and staying within the lines. I have always marched to a different tune and love to be creative when I can-kinda hard in a bureaucracy, huh? Needless to say, this will be a good complement to me because I am not a detail-oriented person but rather, prefer big picture. I am very anxious, excited, and at the same time being cautiously optimistic. I am very pleased about one of the bosses because he immediately told us that he believes in family first and a family friendly workplace. He is even on a committee in our Department to further said goals. That is positive for me as we expect another change here soon – a new baby while another one is still in diapers. Needless to say, the question has crossed my mind- when it comes to a battle between family friendly and process/policy or rules, which one will trump? Hmm…. we will find out soon enough I am sure.

On January 20, 2009, I will also have a new commander in chief and of course, a lot of change is coming to the government in general. I am excited but also nervous about all these changes… but I think it is good to keep on your toes and if you fall into a rut and there is no prospect of change, the economy and other aspects of life stagnate so…. as 2009 gets underway, I am just taking it one day at a time and hope that all the change is positive or if it is not, that I hope I can get through it …. ’til change happens again.

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Sexism & Tolerance

I was quite offended at what I heard a Senior Leadership Conference this weekend. I was an attendee and a low man on the totem pole so to speak and of course, it was a military conference. But there were a lot of high ranking folks there and I was amazed to hear something as a question and answer session was going on in an early morning session. I am not sure how I felt about the response afterwards – I think that was more offensive than the comment itself.

So there we were in the conference and someone asked a legitimate question about timing and deployments. When, someone blurted out – “well, that’s great – all the people slated to deploy will all of a sudden end of pregnant.” I was shocked- most women were- some men were. But others laughed and jeered and agreed. It was shocking. What was more shocking was that that type of comment was tolerated by the two Generals in the room. The one General seemed to have a lot to say about everything else but never once corrected this comment or addressed it. It left a lot of people in the room … well, it left them without closure and quite offended. I was one of those individuals considering I have had a baby and plan on having more. I was convinced now more than ever that sexism in the AF is not just alive and well but it is condoned and even tolerated at upper echelon. Like I said, not addressing the comment left an even more foul taste in my mouth than the comment itself. Anyway, we …. soldier on …. even the working, pregnant moms!

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