Monday, January 13, 2014

Dominant Moves

From the Philadelphia Enquirer (via, a story of "veteran homelessness":

After a 30-year military career in which he earned three graduate degrees, rose to the rank of colonel, and served as an aide to Pentagon brass, Robert Freniere can guess what people might say when they learn he's unemployed and lives out of his van:

Why doesn't this guy get a job as a janitor?

Freniere answers his own question: "Well, I've tried that."

Freniere, 59, says that his plea for help, to a janitor he once praised when the man was mopping the floors of his Washington office, went unfulfilled. So have dozens of job applications, he says, the ones he has filled out six hours a day, day after day, on public library computers.
So Freniere, a man who braved multiple combat zones and was hailed as "a leading light" by an admiral, is now fighting a new battle: homelessness.

Then again . . .

Freniere, like many of his fellow down-on-their-luck veterans, does not match any hat-in-hand Hollywood image of homelessness. He receives an annual pension from the military of more than $40,000.

His struggle to find a job after retiring from the Air Force collided with the end of his marriage nearly two years ago. Unable to return to the home he shared with his estranged wife, and faced with expenses including bills for two sons in college and debts that mounted when he maintained a nicer lifestyle, he took up a nomadic existence.

Maybe not!


Over chips and salsa at a Baja Fresh in King of Prussia, he spent more than four hours engaged in a rambling conversation in which he quoted Dante, Andrew Jackson, and the novelist Leon Uris. He touched on his hobbies, from painting to playing guitar to learning new languages.

Freniere, who said he had been found to have dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, said he earned the nickname "Lightning" in the military for his constant motion and ability to talk anyone's ear off.

Okay, but I've seen officers use "constant motion" to communicate, "I'm way too busy with things way more important than you to actually stop what I'm doing, look you in the eye, and have a conversation. But trot along after me if you must, which will force you into a submissive frame." It's transparently a dominance move, and among such moves above-average in its discourtesy.

Come to think of it, talking someone's ear off might be a dominance move too, especially when no one has asked you a question about what you're talking about.


Anonymous said...

This is not a typical "homeless vet" story. More like a "senior manager who failed to plan ahead, made bad choices, lives above his means, and chooses to live in a van instead of cutting back on his other expenses" story.

It is typical of senior management in the real world who get cut when the company downsizes and then they discover that other companies don't want him either.

My easy reference to DFAS shows a full colonel with 30 years in gets over 82K in retirement pension. Not 40K. So it looks like he is splitting that with his wife, but still that leaves him with plenty.

I hate seeing full colonels whine about how hard they have it. This guy spend the last ten years of his career being treated like royalty and now he finds out his rank means nothing out here.

heresolong said...

I call total BS on this story. He's making almost as much in take home pension as I'm making working my a$$ off, he gets free medical care, access to the base exchanges, and he can't afford a studio apartment somewhere?

I'm with Hale. This is crap.

Anonymous said...

BTW, military retiree health care is not entirely "free". A retiree can gain health care from four sources:

1. VA. For his service connected problems, if he lives near a VA hospital and if he has the luxury of time to wait for sub-standard treatment.

2. At an active duty hospital, on a space available basis. Since the Carter administration, military treatment facilities have been cutting back on the space available and the 12 years of war has increased demand in he Active duty... so don't count on this. But if you can get in, it is free. And if you have private insurance, they will get billed for this visit.

3. Tricare Prime. Pay a monthly fee, pretty low, plus a co-pay per office visit. Can only visit doctors inside the network.

4. Tri-care standard. Pay the first 20% of treatment plus some reasonable amount for annual deductible.

5. When a retiree becomes medicare eligible, he has to pay for full part B too to continue getting his tri-care benefits.

So... Not "free". But still a pretty good deal.

And I fully expect the whole thing to be cut and farmed out to Medicare or Obamacare pretty soon.