It's the little things


I had to re-register my car today. The state provides a militaryexemption for state taxes on car registration for military members whoare not Hawai'i residents. So I went down to Rear Detachment and waitedan hour for the RearD people to get out of a meeting so that I couldget the form I needed to exempt us from the state taxes.

Itook my registration, military ID, deployment orders, power ofattorney, and military exemption form down to the Satellite City Halltoday to get new tags for my car. I waited in line, double-checkingthat I had everything I needed. I get to the counter and the woman asksme what my rank is.

I have no rank.

I explainthat my husband is deployed, that I have copies of his deploymentorders, power of attorney, blood type, and anything else that the statemight possibly need in order to consider me worthy of the militaryexemption for registration taxes. She again asks me what my rank is.


Again, I explain that my husbandis the servicemember and he is currently in Iraq but that I havedeployment orders/power of attorney/marriage certificate/militaryID/1st grade report card and all of that should take care of the factthat my husband is not currently on the island.

She looks at me and blinks. She then proceeds to ask me, "So you're not in the military?"

Um,no. I am a military spouse. Hence the lovely tan colored ID card,copies of deployment orders/power of attorney/marriage certificate/etc.

She then tells me that because my husband's name is not onthe registration and title of the car, we are not eligible for themilitary exemption on state taxes when it comes to registering thiscar. "That-will-be-one-hundred-and-seventy-five-dollars-plus-ten-dollars-for-a-late-fee-thankyouverymuchhaveaniceday-pleasegopaythechashier."

Seems it doesn't matter that I'm married to a man in the military if his name isn't on the title. Grr. I couldget ahold of the bank, have them add MacGyver's name to the title (I'msure THAT would be a quick and easy process, given the fact that he'sin a foreign country at the moment. /sarcasm). But that would mean driving around for weeks on end (because we all know that something that sounds so simple will take at least 6-8 weeks) waiting to get paperwork taken care of and signatures obtained. And driving around on expired tags is, well, illegal. So I did not choose that option. Call me silly.

Grr. It'sthe little things. Don't get me wrong. I understand that a rule is arule and I'm not mad at the woman at City Hall for not bending the rulefor me. It's basic algebra, really.

If A=B and B=C then A=C.

A: Military members and vehicles in their name are eligible for a military exemption on registration tax.

B: I am married to said military member and, were he here, I could have his name added to the title and registration of my car.

C: Marriage to said military member should extend benefits to me and the rest of his family.

Ona related note, I was talking with a friend of mine about the attitudeof entitlement. I try my best to avoid seeing the world or the Army asthough it owes me something. Don't get me wrong - if I am duesomething, if I have worked for and earned something then I will demand it. It isrightfully mine. But I do not expect things to be given to me justbecause I exist or because of the fact that I am married to a man in the military.

A few months ago I attended a town hallmeeting and listened to a woman complain that the Army wasn't doingenough to compensate her for the fact that her husband was beingextended. She wanted the Army to provide her and her family with freeplane tickets back to the mainland so that she could go visit familywhile her husband was deployed. I just shook my head. If you read ourdeployment orders, they read that the deployment will last "365 days oruntil the mission is complete."

The Army owes us nothing beyond that for which Congress and the DoD have already provided.

Whatwould be NICE is this: in the event of a deployment and upon possessionof said deployment orders, dependents of the deployed servicemembershould be eligible to remain at a Category III status regardless ofwhether the servicemember is present. In other words, the deploymentorders should act as a literal stand-in for the servicemember. It wouldbe a wonderful gesture and an incredible help for families who do notlive on the mainland during a deployment (or for those who desire aHawaiian getaway during a deployment!). Flying my family to themainland is expensive and therefore only happened once. It would havebeen great to have been able to fly (on a Space Available basis) backto the mainland to see family.

Another help would be toallow families to be able to fly SpaceA to any SpaceA destination onthe mainland rather than just to the first mainland destination theycome to. For someone whose family resides on the west coast, this isnot a problem. The majority of flights from here go to either TravisAFB, McChord AFB, or North Island. Sucks to be someone whose familylives on the eastern seaboard.

I'm not looking to milk thesystem or the Army for more than I deserve. I just see ways that thelives of military families could be made easier by utilizing the systemin different ways. The adjustments to the Category status of familiesof deployed soldiers would not cost anyone money.

But it sure wouldmake life easier.

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