Who We Are
So many Self-Employed Recalled Reservists and Retirees (SERRRs) went so quickly to DESERT SHIELD/STORM and came home to find their businesses essentially destroyed by their absence. These small businesses came from many occupational groups, Construction, Auto Repair, Horticulture Supply, Farmers, and other small businesses but the Health Professionals were particularly hard hit financially. To date nothing has been done to ameliorate their financial situation. They have just been tenaciously ignored while other groups have had support, both emotional and financial, from DOD and the Federal Government.
The Active Duty troops had generous separation allowances or bonuses to draw upon. The Recalled Reservists who had jobs before they were recalled to active duty had a guarantee (by law) that they would get their old jobs back without the loss of any benefits or retirement position. The Self-Employed businessmen were their own employers and these laws didn't apply to them. The very least that they needed was a long term low interest loan program to help them get back on their feet financially but they should also have received a grant to defray the extra expenses that they incurred as a result of the being Re-Called. Otherwise they are being treated unequally under the law.
The House of Representatives passed a bill HR 102-902 in Early 1991. This went on to the Senate and Senator Dale Bumpers, who was then Chairman of the Small Business Committee, presented a revised bill, S 102-360 to the Senate on February 6, 1991. It was entitled the MILITARY RESERVISTS SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF ACT. It had 32 Senators as co-sponsors. It would have provided the relief that was desperately needed by the loyal, patriotic, dedicated SERRRs who left their businesses to come on active military duty when their country called.
There were many benefits for DESERT STORM Veterans which were proposed by a Senate Task Force in a bill in March 1991. This Task Force was led by Senator Glenn of Ohio and Senator McCain of Arizona. The primary benefits were focused on the Active Duty folks who would soon be let out of their service commitments. There is no denying the justice of this, for many of them had made plans for a career in the military and now the military decided it wasn't going to need them after all. There HAD to be some kind of compensation for the disruption to their lives and careers. The Employers of Reservists were given strict guidelines that made it so the Reservist could not and would not be penalized for his/her service in its time of need. The Supreme Court even wrote that a returning Veteran "...does not step back on the seniority escalator at the point he stepped off. He steps back on at the precise point he would have occupied continuously, had he not left his [civilian] position...." This protection is known as "the escalator principle." The Army Times had an excellent article on this subject on Page 20 of the April 18, 1994 issue.
Despite strenuous efforts on the part of Senator Bumpers (and the staff of the Small Business Committee) testifying before this Task Force on March 14, 1991, the needs of the SERRRs were omitted. They weren't even allowed in the door for consideration.
Senator Glenn said "...as Reservists they knew what they were getting into. They had been getting paid all those years..." (See Page 3344 of the Congressional Record for March 14, 1991.) This was a callous message to send to the SERRRs, when they were simultaneously being so considerate of the disruptions to the lives and careers of the Active Duty Servicemen and Women. (See Pages CR 3334-3345, March 14, 1991 for the rest of the story.)
The problems resulting from this lack of financial support of the SERRRs has some similarities to those of the Gulf War Syndrome. They are:
1.It affects more than just the service member. It also has devastating effects on the spouses and children of the Service member and in that respect it is contagious. 2.The Federal Government has been tenaciously ignoring the 2nd Gulf War Syndrome just as it did the original Gulf War Syndrome. 3.It also affect the heirs of the service member and in that respect it is hereditary. 4.It also affects the employees and suppliers of the service member and in that respect again, -- it is contagious.
Why haven't you heard about it before? It's not for lack of trying. There was a feature story in the Army Times, Navy Times and Air Force Times in December 1991 about the financial problems that the SERRRs faced. It was at that time that we organized the SERRR Committee and we asked that our address be put into all three of the Times Editions. The Navy Times was the only one that published our Fort Knox address and so our responses were a little skewed toward the Navy (which actually had the least number of the Self-Employed Recalled Reservists). We know that there are and have been many many sufferers in all branches of the military. When we attempted to later correspond with some of the SERRRs who had written to us, the mail was returned to us FOE, Forwarding Order Expired. We can only guess why!
We have been in correspondence with Congressmen and Senators who have influence in the Armed Services Committee and Veteran's Affairs Committee. We even sent an information packet to at least two newspapers in every state in CONUS, Hawaii and Alaska. Every Senator in Office in December 1993 received an extensive packet of material from the SERRR Committee. To date, there has not been a dime of support for the SERRRs or the SERRR Committee. Our disappointment cannot be measured.
To date, since October 1991, there have been tens of billions of taxpayer dollars going overseas to Foreign nations, EVERY YEAR! They were even giving thousands of dollars to Iraqi EPWs (Enemy Prisoners of War) and their families to settle here in the US, while maintaining that there was no money for the SERRRs!
How DOD and Congress can believe that this is appropriate treatment for the SERRRs, their families and employees stretches credibility to the breaking point.
We want to thank all those who have or are suppporting our efforts. This includes but is not limited to:
1.The Kentucky State Legislature
Despite all this support and the righteousness of our efforts, DOD is still tenaciously ignoring this problem and and has only offered "a great deal of opposition" according to one Senator. In this respect we claim there is a great deal of similarity between "The Gulf War Syndrome" and "The Second Gulf War Syndrome."
What We Do
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