It's the little things

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

I took my registration, military ID, deployment orders, power of attorney, and military exemption form down to the Satellite City Hall today to get new tags for my car. I waited in line, double-checking that I had everything I needed. I get to the counter and the woman asks me what my rank is.

I have no rank.

I explain that my husband is deployed, that I have copies of his deployment orders, power of attorney, blood type, and anything else that the state might possibly need in order to consider me worthy of the military exemption for registration taxes. She again asks me what my rank is.


Again, I explain that my husband is the servicemember and he is currently in Iraq but that I have deployment orders/power of attorney/marriage certificate/military ID/1st grade report card and all of that should take care of the fact that 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 on the registration and title of the car, we are not eligible for the military exemption on state taxes when it comes to registering this car. "That-will-be-one-hundred-and-seventy-five-dollars-

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 could get ahold of the bank, have them add MacGyver's name to the title (I'm sure THAT would be a quick and easy process, given the fact that he's in a foreign country at the moment. /sarcasm).

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

On a related note, I was talking with a friend of mine about the attitude of entitlement. I try my best to avoid seeing the world or the Army as though it owes me something. Don't get me wrong - if I am due something, if I have earned something then I will demand it. It is rightfully mine. But I do not expect things to be given to me just because I exist.

A few months ago I attended a town hall meeting and listened to a woman complain that the Army wasn't doing enough to compensate her for the fact that her husband was being extended. She wanted the Army to provide her and her family with free plane tickets back to the mainland so that she could go visit family while her husband was deployed. I just shook my head. If you read our deployment orders, they read that the deployment will last "365 days or until the mission is complete."

The Army owes us nothing.

What would be NICE is this: in the event of a deployment and upon possession of said deployment orders, dependents of the deployed servicemember should be eligible to remain at a Category III status regardless of whether the servicemember is present. In other words, the deployment orders should act as a literal stand-in for the servicemember. It would be a wonderful gesture and an incredible help for families who do not live on the mainland during a deployment (or for those who desire a Hawaiian getaway during a deployment!). Flying my family to the mainland is expensive and therefore only happened once. It would have been great to have been able to fly (on a Space Available basis) back to the mainland to see family.

Another help would be to allow families to be able to fly SpaceA to any SpaceA destination on the mainland rather than just to the first mainland destination they come to. For someone whose family resides on the west coast, this is not a problem. The majority of flights from here go to either Travis AFB, McChord AFB, or North Island. Sucks to be someone whose family lives on the eastern seaboard.

I'm not looking to milk the system or the Army for more than I deserve. I just see ways that the lives of military families could be made easier by utilizing the system in different ways. The adjustments to the Category status of families of deployed soldiers would not cost anyone money. But it sure would make life easier.


- hfs

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