On June 29, 2005 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers hosted a Worldwide Town Hall Meeting for Department Of Defense Service Members.
Worldwide Town Hall Meeting
29 June, 2005 - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hosts a worldwide town hall meeting from the Pentagon with CJCS General Richard Myers.
Access the "Worldwide Town Hall Meeting": live video by clicking here. Move the slider about 80% to the right where the female LtCol asks the question. Or click here to view a total Transcript of the meeting.
Below is a dialogue of the second to last question asked by an Active Duty female Army Officer who is a victim of The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA).
As you will read in the below transcripts, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated he never heard of the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA).
One would think that Mr. Rumsfeld’s DOD General Counsel:
http://www.defenselink.mil/dodgc/ would have informed Mr. Rumsfeld that they are currently in court on his behalf concerning a lawsuit which names Mr. Rumsfeld as the Defendant?
See details of this lawsuit: http://www.usfspa-lawsuit.info/index.htm
On April 30, 2004 the ULSG, LLC and 58 named Plaintiffs filed a complaint with the United States District Court, for The Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division. The lawsuit was filed against the Department of Defense. The Plaintiffs have declared that the USFSPA is in violation of the United States Constitution (Amendments Five and Fourteen) and is therefore depriving divorced military, both active duty and retirees of their right of “due process”. The lawsuit names the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, as the Defendant. Click here or on "Court Documents" in the left hand column to track the status of the lawsuit and to review documents filed with the court.
Worldwide Town Hall Meeting Transcript
Female Army Lieutenant Colonel:
Q Sir, this is for you,
Mr. Secretary. I'm an active-duty lieutenant colonel, divorced, full custody
of two small children. My ex-husband resigned from the military because it wasn't
lucrative enough for him.
During our marriage, our nine years together, he tripled his income due to the support I provided him while he went to school full- time. And by the way, I supported a family with my military paycheck.
Now I'm living with a divorce decree that not only directs me to provide a large chunk of my retirement pay to him; it also directs me to start paying him upon reaching 20 years in service, whether I choose to retire at 20 years or not. This is forcing me out of the military next year. I can't afford to write a paycheck -- write a check to my ex-husband every month out of my military pay. By the way, he makes thousands and thousands of dollars more than I do.
This is a result of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. I'm not the only one affected by this injustice. There are many other injustices that have been imposed on military members for years.
Sir, we are your supporters, some of your biggest supporters in this country, and we would like to get support from our leadership as well.
SEC. RUMSFELD: This is a --
Q And so --
SEC. RUMSFELD: This is a statute, the -- GEN. MYERS: Right. It's a law.
SEC. RUMSFELD: A law.
GEN. MYERS: In the past.
Q Sir. Yes, sir. Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, which, sir, I was told that you supported.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I've never heard of it. (Laughter.) Q And, sir, as you may know, or may not know, the divorce rate in the military is much higher than it is in the civilian sector, and it is growing. And -- SEC. RUMSFELD: When did this law go into effect?
Q Oh, sir, people have been trying to fight this for 20 years.
GEN. MYERS: Yes, it's old. It's a couple -- it's at least 15, 20 years it's been around, right? Ten, 15, 20 years?
Q Well, before I came into the military, sir.
GEN. MYERS: Right.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I'll be happy to have David Chu look at it. I'm just not knowledgeable, I'm afraid, about it.
Q Okay, well --
GEN. MYERS: It was different -- actually, it was created, I think, in different times. I think was part of the mindset when spouses were normally women -- Q Yes.
GEN. MYERS: -- and when they probably did not work, and when -- Q But sir, even -- GEN. MYERS: Yeah. So it needs to be looked at. I think the secretary's idea is a good idea.
Q May I say one more thing, please, sir? I know that it was set for a much earlier generation. But I will say that since I've been in the military, since August of 1986, everywhere I've been stationed, and Germany included, even female spouses have had opportunities for jobs, given preference for government jobs, had opportunities for education beyond high school. There's always some sort of college program.
So although you may look and this may sound a little bit shocking to you because now there's a woman having to pay an ex-husband who makes just a lot more money than a lot of us in this room, this is an issue that is not a gender issue, it is a military service member issue. And, frankly, we need some support, and we'd like for you to support change or congressional amendment to the current act and actually help promote it, because we can't get a congressman or anybody to touch this.
SEC. RUMSFELD: We'll have David Chu take a look at it. Thank you.
Q Thank you, sir.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I am very glad I had a notion -- (laughter.) I've been around long enough to feel it coming. (Laughter.) Thank you, seriously. We'll have David Chu look.
After looking at Mr. Chu’s bio, it is noted that he has been working at the Department of Defense before the incorporation of the ill conceived USFSPA law, in one form or another, and one would think he would had already informed Mr. Rumsfeld how the USFSPA is seriously having a negative effect on the recruitment, career development, pay and benefits of his Armed Forces service members?
David S. C. Chu was sworn in as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness on June 1, 2001. A Presidential appointee confirmed by the Senate, he is the Secretary's senior policy advisor on recruitment, career development, pay and benefits for 1.4 million active duty military personnel, 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel and 680,000 DoD civilians and is responsible for overseeing the state of military readiness.
James T. North is U.S. Marines, Retained, Fleet Marine Corps Reserve, Category
II, Deployable and promotes www.usfspa-lawsuit.info.
You can read more details at See more details: http://www.usfspa-lawsuit.info/ActiveDutyAlert.htm
MSgt North can be reached by email at Jim.North@cambridge-na.com
WHAT DID HE KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?
Colonel George W. Tate, US Army retired (ColTate@ULSG.Org)
“Still serving proudly”
Famed for his ability to DETECT tough questions from the media and from Members of Congress, on June 29 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was stopped dead in his tracks by a question from one of his own; a lady lieutenant colonel, who brought up a valid and vexing question about military retirement pay. During a DOD “town hall meeting, aired the world over, she asked him why she faces the prospects of having to pay a large chunk of her retirement pay to her much-wealthier ex husband. Why indeed!
The usually glib and facile Rumsfeld, uncomfortably facing a very public, televised moment of truth he’d rather not face, blinked. Summoning the only dodge he could summon, the Sec Def trotted out his best “Aw shucks” manner and asked “Is that a statute?” “I’m unaware.”
Indeed, Mr. Secretary, “that’s a statute”. It’s 10 USC 1408, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, and it’s been on the books for more than 24 years. And yes, Congress deviously backdated it to avoid an inconvenient conflict with a Supreme Court ruling which held that military retirement pay could not be divided as property.
That statute, Mr. Secretary, is devastating the morale of your troops. Though DOD has hidden the law under the rug for all those years, word of this DOD back-stab is finally reaching the field. In this global war on terror, in this era of back-to-back deployments to battle insidious terrorism, the very troops tasked to accomplish those dirty missions for America are subject to a discriminatory law mandating that they hand over up to half of their retirement pay permanently to a former spouse. And that’s in addition to alimony and child support. Only military members, alone among all Americans, are subject to such a law providing lifetime benefits to ex-spouses above and beyond those available to the public at large and continuing even after the remarriage of the former spouse.
The Secretary’s dodge won’t wash.
His answer feigning ignorance of the law can be interpreted two ways. Either he has been shielded by his underlings from the grim truth of what the USFSPA is doing to troop morale, in which case he’s made to look incompetent, or he took the unwise path of pretending not to know in order to cover his tracks. In other words, he lied.
Which of these is the more likely?
In 2001, on Rumsfeld’s watch, the Department of Defense provided Congress a voluminous report, delivered two years late to Capitol Hill, describing why the law is good for the troops. Baloney! The report silently, and without comment, overturned the “on-the-Congressional-Record” position of prior administrations regarding the USFSPA.
And as you read this, Rumsfeld’s lawyers are scrambling to protect him from a federal lawsuit which names him, by name, as defendant, and which challenges the constitutionality of the law. That case is alive and well in Federal District Court in Alexandria, VA, and if Mr. Rumsfeld wants us to believe that he doesn’t know about the USFSPA, he must think we’re all pretty stupid. This case is far from resolution and if Mr. Rumsfeld doesn’t know his personal chestnuts are in the fire, we think he’s pretty stupid.
Clearly Mr. Rumsfeld does know about the USFSPA.
Just as clearly, his tap-dance on camera on June 29 was a disingenuous attempt to avoid public airing of the Department’s long-standing support for an ill-conceived law which DOD leaders support at their peril, and which decimates the morale of military career personnel, just when we need them most.
Though DOD’s civilian lawyers fabricate fanciful theories for the Department’s aggressive and inexplicable support for the USFSPA, in fact the USFSPA created a unique, unprecedented, discriminatory, and wholly unnecessary body of law for military spouses only, on top of their rights comparable to other divorced spouses. The USFSPA may have been well intentioned, but it has harmed far more than it has helped, and now more than 150,000 of America’s defenders have had their old-age security cashiered by it. Some have been forced into bankruptcy and all are blindsided in divorce by DOD’s dirty little secret. The number of Americas finest who have been duped and stabbed in the back by their own chain of command rises daily.
Wake up, Mr. Rumsfeld! Recruiting is down. Divorces are up. Military divorces, until recently less frequent than the general population, now exceed the general rate. American troops are being sent into harms way with stressful frequency, against an insidious enemy which beheads and car-bombs innocents. Throughout it all, the Department maintains it’s “head-in-the-sand” attitude about the USFSPA and that law’s pernicious effects on troop morale.
Maybe it’s even worse than “head-in-the-sand”; maybe the Department shovels the sand over its own head and hides from the unpleasant truths about the USFSPA. It has for more than 24 years failed to provide briefings and orientations to the troops to tell them that they may dedicate a lifetime of honorable, often dangerous service to America only to have their retirement security handed over to a third party civilian who took no oaths and never stood in harms way. This, remember, is the same DOD which clandestinely reversed the policy position of previous administrations in its 2001 report to Congress.
Even more indicative of DOD sentiment, in the current lawsuit in federal court, Mr. Rumsfeld’s lawyers fought (unsuccessfully) to exclude testimony from a soldier in Iraq. And Mr. Rumsfeld says he didn’t know?
Are military families important? Of course they are. Do they deserve more preferential treatment than their military sponsors? What theory could possibly justify that? Do military spouses deserve lifetime monetary awards that civilian spouses don’t get? Why? Is the playing field level in military divorces? Absolutely not! Why the Sec Def thinks that’s a good thing is known only to him. As the lawsuit progresses, maybe he can explain it to the judge, and to the troops who wonder. And to the courageous lady lieutenant colonel who nailed him on June 29.
Until the Congress amends the USFSPA to eliminate its anti-military bias, or until it’s declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, it will be the single most demoralizing factor to the career military force. Mr. Rumsfeld knows that, and he knew it on June 29.