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Too Generous to His Soldiers?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband is an E-6, and he is always "taking care of his soldiers." Ordinarily, I wouldn't have any problem with it. But I believe there's a line that can and should be drawn.

Whenever we go out, everyone else usually goes Dutch. My husband constantly pays for our bill and everyone else at our table. He even pays for his bosses when they are with us.

On one hand, I love how generous he is. On the other hand, I feel that these leeches will never go away. They're like stray cats -- once you feed them, they never go away.

His soldiers know how generous he is, so they tend to order any and everything they want plus alcohol and do not expect to ever pay when they know we are going to be there. They actually fight to sit at our table! I always end up not eating or drinking only water to keep the cost of our bill down.

They constantly show up at our house expecting dinner, drinks, whatever. We have our own family to take care of. Although we can afford it, I believe we are being taken advantage of.

They have even asked us for loans. We have had soldiers tell us they can't afford to go home for the holidays because they don't have gas money or they need new tires or whatever. We "loaned" one kid $1,000. I'm sure we will never see it again. 

I think these soldiers need to learn to not spend their entire check on expensive paint jobs, rims for their cars or $200 tennis shoes or jeans. We had to learn to do without items we wanted in order to provide items we or our family needed. It's time they learned to do the same, don't you think?

Am I wrong in thinking this way? Is this a "normal" way of “taking care of your soldiers"? Is it spelled out anywhere? Are there any guidelines or rules?

Sincerely,
Drawing the Line

Dear Drawing,

I think I’m moving in with you and your family. Your husband is very generous! Trust me, his soldiers know who they can take advantage of, and it’s your husband!

There is nothing in a rule book or code of ethics that says you have to entertain, pick up the tab, or loan thousands of dollars to soldiers in order to “take care” of them. Listen, those soldiers know they have a good thing, so they will use your husband until he has dried up.

I disagree that you can afford this -- no one can. Even rich people who could afford this lifestyle wouldn’t allow other people to take advantage of them. Bottom line, we have to be good stewards over our own finances.

It sounds like your husband is what my grandmother would call “a salt of the earth” kind of guy -- good people. Nothing is wrong with that. However, it must be a problem because you are uncomfortable with his actions.

I’m not trying to “gas” you up or cause any problems in your relationship with your husband, but it doesn’t seem like he is discussing any of this with you before he makes these hasty decisions.

There are other ways he can help his soldiers. For example, he could do quick classes on budget training. The professionals at Army Community Service would love to help him with this effort.

This is what you should tell your husband: Tell him you are very thankful you are married to someone with a very giving heart. However, tell him he must realize that he is a professional leader, and not his soldiers' friends or buddy.

He has to realize that he should maintain good professional boundaries too. Loaning money and paying for everyone’s food and the constant “coming over” to your house are not good boundaries.

Now, of course we should be there to help each other in times of emergencies and to support each other when needed, but what you describe is something totally different. You can have a sincere discussion with your husband and ask him to stop.. Let me know what happens.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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