Some days I believe the universe aligns discrete events purposefully to nudge me toward a rant. Today was one of those days. It started with my neighbor Kyle coming over this morning to show me that he had received and completed a background check document about me from FEMA/DHS. I do contract work for FEMA/DHS on occasion and their new security system requires background checks for all the folks that work with them. Kyle showed me the form before he mailed it back otherwise I would not even know that he had received it.
I was a bit horrified that FEMA/DHS felt a need to bother Kyle as part of their background check of me. It isn’t as if I am dealing with sensitive government secrets or vulnerable populations. I do research, course development, teaching, and reports for FEMA/DHS. I typically do less than $10,000 of work for them a year. And yet they are doing a full-blown background check – to include contacting folks who live near me and work with me, and having a local investigator go over records and meet with me. Seriously, can you say overkill?
What is even more nonsensical is that I have worked with FEMA/DHS for about a decade without being checked out. Now there is a new policy that all contractors must be vetted. The process is long, costly, and terribly time intensive.
If FEMA/DHS wants to know if I am a threat to national security their time and money is better spent reading my blog. Should they do so, they would quickly find out that as odd and opinionated as I am – I am also a pretty big rule follower. I am not worth their investigative effort.
Early this afternoon I attended a veterans’ issues forum with Senator Heitkamp in attendance. It was heartening to see the variety of folks and organizations represented at the forum. In contrast, it was appalling to hear about all the struggles veterans continue to have getting the services and benefits they were promised. I left the forum downright irritated at my government that has still not taken the necessary steps to do right by those who are serving and have served.
Then it hit me – the government can spend heaven knows how much money doing background checks on rule-following nobodies like me, but it cannot make good on getting veterans timely care or benefits. What the hell is going on? How can our government forsake its fundamental commitments to military members and veterans and then spend frivolously on doing background checks on every Tom, Dick, and Carol that they do low level contracting with? Where is John Stossel when I need him? Gimme a break!
Thank you universe for the nudge. Juxtaposing the expenditures (or lack thereof) between these two discrete experiences reminded me that government spending needs to be carefully scrutinized and the American people need to demand that the government make good on its promises to members of the military past and present. Write your elected representatives today (get their contact information here – http://veteransuicides.areavoices.com/what-you-can-do-to-help/) and tell them to get their priorities straight. There is no excuse for this malfeasance of the backs of those who have defended this country.
Day one thousand four hundred and fifty-six of the new forty – obla di obla da