This is certainly not good PR for the military, much less the government.
On Day 7 of the government shutdown, a U.S. Army recruiting command had its order filled for a mechanical bull to the tune of $US47,000, as reported by CNS and noted by Gawker. In the same breath, an Air Force recruiting command dumped $US20,000 on a static display at a hot air balloon festival.
Setting aside the exorbitant costs (apparently, that’s the low-end for mechanical bulls), the obvious question is this: While gold star families are stuck footing their own bills for travel to collect the remains of family members killed in combat, why are recruiting commands dumping tens of thousands of dollars into seemingly ostentatious and unnecessary endeavours?
Explanation: recruiting budgets and death gratuity budgets are two separate things.
Static displays and mechanical bulls are to recruiters what bullets are to active duty troops, and neither will be in much of a shortage any time soon.
It’s all a matter of fiscal triage: Initial steps taken to cut costs because of a shutdown usually target civilian employees, which is why we saw a whole bunch of furloughs.
They also target civilian-run organisations and tertiary costs, ie. non-mission essential functions.
Believe it or not, the Veteran’s Administration (what pays out death gratuities) is considered as non-essential as many civilian contractor sections (base grocery stores, etc.). It’s also easily cut because it, like weekly paychecks of contractors, is a more liquid asset, an immediate way to stop the bleeding.
Now, on the other hand, military Public Affairs representatives ought to be working with their respective recruiting commands to make sure nothing ostentatious goes on the tab while families aren’t getting paid for the sacrifices of their sons and daughters.
Or maybe, recruiting money would be better spent buying those families their plane tickets, rather than giving high school kids rides on a mechanical bull furnished by the lowest bidder.
Food for thought.
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