THE DISMISSAL OF CAPTAIN JENSEN

Even at West Point, Army Captain Andy ďTankĒ Jensen of Anchorage, Alaska knew full well he may need to lay down his life in the service of his country one day.

Known as a ďpeople personĒ with a discerning mind, following graduation Lieutenant Jensen was assigned to act as an investigating officer for misconduct allegations made against Army service members.
 

His first Army post was the emirate state Qatar along the Arabian Peninsula.  Before long, Andy was sent to Afghanistan and then on to Iraq.  By November, 2007, Captain Jensen had more than two-hundred soldiers working under him.  Though his unitís mission was staff-work, every soldier in a war-zone like Iraq is a rifleman at any given moment.

One afternoon, while riding an armored humvee on a trip from
Baghdad to Qatar, a roadside bomb exploded on the right side of the humvee.  The steel-plating along and under the vehicle saved the lives and limbs of the driver and front-seat passenger.  However the blast shattered the window next to Captain Jensen allowing a projectile to grievously wound his left arm and shoulder.  He

RoadsideBomb remained conscious throughout the long trip to an army emergency care unit.

After the insertion of two plates and forty-one screw and nine-weeks care in the hospital, Captain Jensen was ready for new Army orders.  Unfortunately, the orders were to go home and await a medical discharge.

Captain Jensen was faced with a stark choice over his future.  He could accept a permanent medical discharge and at least for a period of time receive full Veteranís Administration disability pay.  That would come to approximately $4,000/month tax-free. 

The other path was to hope to return to Army active-duty to resume his officer career once his shoulder had healed more.  This would mean however the VA payment to him would be only $400/month.  With that alternative, when he was medically cleared to begin an assessment period back in the Army, Andy could return to active-duty, at least for a time.

Captain Jensen chose to tough out his convalescence receiving ten percent of the VA disability pay he was otherwise qualified for.  He worked odd jobs, he worked nightclub security, at times he slept in his truck and he mostly worked on rehabbing his shoulder.   He can bench-press 400 pounds today.  Andy wanted to be an Army officer again.

In the fall of 2009 Captain Jensen returned to active-duty in Anchorage to resume his Army career.  There was a performance period during which he would have to demonstrate his physical capabilities.  Obstacle-courses, weight-training and aerobic conditioning were most of the orders of the day for Andy Jensen. 

After crunching Captain Jensenís numbers, Army doctors determined he is generally in fine physical shape for an Army officer, with one exception.  He was rated to lift 35-pounds above his head.  The Armyís minimum standard on that score is 50-pounds.

So, that was it.

A week later, Andy Jensen was out looking for work, staying with friends.  He now hopes to become a federal air marshal. 

Two weeks ago, outside an Anchorage nightclub, former Captain Jensen was instrumental in saving the life of a gunshot victim.  Andy tore his shirt into pieces on the scene, instructed novices on how to help and staunched the manís bleeding before the ambulance arrived


A week later, Andy Jensen was out looking for work, staying with friends.  He now hopes to become a federal air marshal. 

In a matter of weeks or months Andy Jensen will begin receiving $4,200/month tax-free from the Veteranís Administration.  That compensation level with annual increases could last a lifetime.

Government policies have been criticized for flawed reasoning and bad results many times before.  This set of facts is another example, and not just because of its effect on a fine, quite capable young man.

The Army sent Andy Jensen through West Point.  It trained him in the field in a variety of ways.  He is a seasoned officer with experience in two war zones.  As a junior officer, he was entrusted with evaluating events and people in a way that most officers never have a chance to try.  Andy swears today he could do his old Army job just as capably now as he ever could.  So do his Army peers.

Taking into account the fact Army active-duty pay and retirement pay is taxed at the usual rate, Captain Jensen was offering the United States Government the long-term services of a trained military officer for little to no actual compensation.
 
Yet, the mindless review process the federal government uses could not properly weigh any of these facts.  All the judges could do was state the numbers on a chart and apply it to a hard-and-fast rule.  The decision-makers could not even consider the fact Captain Jensenís replacement over a career will further indebt the federal taxpayers much more than a million dollars because of Andyís one flaw.

Hopefully, the Department of Homeland Security, in the midst of the Greatest Depression, will not also be so blind to the welfare of taxpayers and to the noble sacrifice of a soldier dedicated to his country.

I sure would want Andy Jensen entrusted to watch out for my safety on a plane ride anywhere.

                                                                                                                              Editor