Embassy duty rocks
In regard to the pros and cons of embassy duty [“State Department examines need for more Marine embassy guards,” Nov. 5 issue]:
I served two tours of Marine Security Guard duty, both as a watchstander and detachment commander. I was also the operations chief of the MSG School in Quantico, Va.
The pros include the opportunity to serve in “every clime and place,” as the MSG slogan claims. I was posted to our embassies in Guatemala City, Guatemala; Managua, Nicaragua; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and the consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The duty also gives Marines a chance to see firsthand how the State Department operates, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development, Citizenship and Immigration Services, military attachés and the Peace Corps.
The extra money is nice — you get special duty assignment pay from the Marine Corps and a cost-of-living allowance from the State Department, with hazardous duty pay in extreme circumstances. The State Department provides at least 100 hours of local language training. Learning another language is always beneficial.
You can establish contacts with various agencies and people — both military and civilian — which may lead to future employment here or abroad.
There are not many cons that I remember. The most obvious one, of course, is that guard duty — especially the midwatch — can be boring, long and, hopefully, uneventful.
— Retired Master Sgt. Rollie M. Van Cleave, Knoxville, Tenn.
VA wastes resources
Regarding “Wasteful conferences: IG report: VA leadership, standards broke down,” Oct. 8 issue:
John Sepulveda, the top human resources official at the Veterans Affairs Department, resigned the day before the release of the report that Federal Times highlighted, apparently escaping any responsibility for the fiasco for which he was responsible.
I am a service-connected disabled veteran from the Vietnam War. VA is once again attempting to diminish my compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is not getting better, I am not recovering, and it is not going to go the way that some ratings writer in Chicago wants it to go. And yet VA can let the individuals who apparently have scammed Congress and the taxpayers off the hook unpunished.
Mark Twain once said, “We have the best government that money can buy.” Truer words have not been spoken.
— Former 1st Lt. John Hodson, Belvidere, Ill.