A month ahead of time
News that didn't get much play from the MSM. I wonder why?
WASHINGTON -- Staff Sgt. Michael Obleton has already done two tours in Iraq, dodging roadside bombs as he drove trucks in Army convoys across the hostile countryside.The bonus may have something to do with it, but I don't think its the biggest factor. What good would that money do if one were to die in the line of duty? Cover the funeral expenses is about it.
He may even return to the front again _ a possibility that never occurred to him when he first joined the active Army in 1997, long before the 2003 Iraq invasion and the onset of what has become an increasingly unpopular war.
Obleton knows about the Bush administration's often-touted long war on terror, and he's seen the Iraq insurgency up close. But he's determined to continue the fight. So on Thursday he will stand by the flagpole at Kentucky's Fort Campbell, raise his right hand, and swear once again to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies."
As he recites his oath of service, administered by the Army's No. 2 ranking officer, Gen. Richard Cody, Obleton will become the 64,200th Army soldier to re-enlist this year _ allowing the Army to meet its retention goal a full month before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
"The Army is a good career, there are a lot of benefits," he said this week from his post at Fort Campbell. "This is something I signed up for. It's a job. (The war) doesn't worry me."
While the Army struggled last year to meet recruitment goals, it has been able to keep soldiers in the service by using a growing list of incentives and escalating bonuses to shower troops with money, schooling and career advancements.
So far this year, the Army has doled out an average bonus of $14,000, to eligible soldiers, for a total of $610 million in extra payments.
The re-enlistments come despite the escalating casualties on the Iraq battlefield _ where more than 2,600 troops have lost their lives since March 2003. And they have enabled the Army to meet its retention goal every year since 1998.
"The bonuses have a lot to do with it, along with a feeling of accomplishment that comes with doing their mission," said Army spokesman Henry Minitrez. He also said that retention rates have even gone up for some of the military's high-profile units _ such as the 82nd Airborne or 101st Airborne divisions _ when they return home from Iraq or Afghanistan.
Back in 1989 I could have gotten a re-enlistment bonus, but turned it down and left the navy instead. The US wasn't at war then(Desert Storm was still over 16 months away) and personal reasons were the main reason for my decision. Today personal reasons or one's family will factor into a soldier's decision today just as it did for me 17 years ago. Staff Sgt Obelton has the support of his wife who is also in the Army and plans to say. I'm sure that made the decision easier.
The men and women who re-enlist I believe(anyone tell me if you think I'm wrong) feel a dedication to the jobs they do. Its a hard job, but our country needs them and we're at war now. A war that threatens not just themselves, but their families and the way of life all of us share.
That is just my two bits. God bless Staff Sgt. Michael Obleton, his family and all our service men and women today.
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