Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just enough rope...

My squadron has a crazy boondoggle. When we send our sailors on deployment, they not only get to stay in these crazy digs, but they also get per diem, to the tune of $124 a day. That's well over $20k for a deployment, plus family separation allowance, plus hazardous duty pay, plus it's all tax free.  Some of these guys are literally buying tailored suits daily. It's the clearest example I may ever see of too much of a good thing. If a sailor has money problems before they deploy, they're tenfold upon their return. It can turn a typically responsible saillor into the prodigal son.

Today I had to counsel one of my sailors turned spendthrift having just returned from Bahrain. She's taken expensive vacations and invited ne'er do well friends from home to stay and mooch off her. This sailor is now totally broke, in trouble and still supporting her hillbilly wards. I had to order her to accept help, which included kicking out her friends, or report to toilet-cleaning detail. It had become that bad. 

What troubled me most was that, in talking with her, it became clear to me that the best scenario for her would be one in which she had the very least resources. It wasn't important for her to save up or to be able to afford a car or to afford anything more than food. It was with money that she got into this trouble--it certainly wasn't going to get her out. The real bummer was that I knew she had these troubles before deployment and had allowed her to go instead of forcing her to deal with them here.

So yeah, teach a man to fish, if you can, but just giving him a fish can easily mean he'll starve the next day. That's what I'm seeing at least. To step out of this analogy, I think the best thing is to care by caring, encouraging a person to take a serious look at what's happening. Maybe I'm learning to not use government resources to be an enabler.