The Miami Herald has this story about Erik Botta going on his fifth war deployment. It is thought provoking on the surface, but when one digs deeper things do not adequately add up due to incorrect information or paucity of needed data.
First thing that caught my attention was the article calls Botta a SGT or E-5, but the picture shows him as a Specialist or E-4. Looking at the ribbon rack, the picture is old- missing the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terror to name two he should have. I guess the editors went for the eye grabbing picture of Botta in his Greens before the flag without noticing its out of date.
Botta is possibly on the hook with the GI Bill if he says he wants out right now. If the Army did grant his request to separate before he completed his eight year commitment, then he might have to repay the benefits he garnered from the GI Bill. That could be pretty pricey.
Fears of loss of their house should be baseless since Botta would be protected under the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act of 1940. Unless there are extenuating circumstances Botta's lawyer is not saying, like perhaps that house is ineligible for protection. Or that Botta has already been through the courts seeking relief and as a rare case been denied such protection. We don't know.
Fear of loss of job is also a non-issue due to Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. Sikorski is not going to fire one employee and risk all of its government contracts, unless Botta's employment has some strange stipulations like he is in an apprentice program between his college and Sikorski and hence is not a Sikorski employee. Or maybe Botta has not been with Sikorski long enough to be termed an invested employee.
They bring up this deployment adversely impacting his education. Speaking as someone who did a two week deployment to Italy with 70 hours notice and only a week before finals, I got my college professors to either give the finals early or delayed them until my return. So this argument really does not hold water unless his college really hates to cut any slack to anyone, even in service of national defense.
Botta has already gotten a 287 day deferment on this deployment due to intervention of Sen Bill Nelson, which means he knew this day was coming and should have planned accordingly - like not take summer courses and not jumped jobs from Pratt&Whitney to Sikorski. His last deployment is almost three years in the past. If he had done this fifth deployment as scheduled; then Botta would be in his last year of enlistment, his First Sergeant would have done the retention interview, Botta would have said he was not interested in re-enlisting because of his schooling and employment, and he would have been placed at the bottom of the call up list because his Date of Separation was so close.
The AOL version of this story has other details that make interesting reading. Botta's four past deployments do not even constitute 365 days overseas. Which makes really silly the contention this deployment constitutes unlawful custody - how praytell when Botta asked to be placed on active duty after voluntarily joining the Army Reserve before 911 - and not a fair distribution of exposure to the risks of combat. There are too many currently in the AOR who are on their third one year deployment for this to be germane, but I guess ambulance chasing lawyers will try any hook.
As a final thought on this matter; when Botta got his deferment last year, I wonder how the poor soldier who was tasked to fill Botta's spot at the last minute felt about his or her life being turned upside down? Perhaps they should sue Botta for unlawful custody?