Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

People often ask me if J.R. and I have transportation of our own here in D.C. I use to be able to smile and brag about the Fund which provides a free rental car to the families of our nations wounded vets. However starting today I no longer have a rental car and will be stranded at Walter Reed.

In January I first heard about an organization that provides a free car while in D.C. As soon as I could I stopped at the Family Assistance Center and filled out the application for the car. The application was complete with my car insurance information as well as a photo copy of my drivers license. They faxed the paperwork over to the Fund and within a week I had a rental. I was so excited to pick up the car. For the first time since I had been at Walter Reed I was going to be able to go off post. After finding the dealership and checking in I was given directions to return every twenty-eight days to renew the car. I grabbed the keys and off I went.

Every twenty-eight days I have been back at the dealership to renew my rental. Every time it was the same deal. Walk in, tell them the mileage, sign a new piece of paper, and leave. In the past couple of months I became increasingly concerned about getting the car serviced. I had been driving the vehicle since January and they had yet to even give the car an oil change. Finally last week the maintenance required light appeared and here begins the real story.

I woke up this morning and knew that the first thing to be accomplished was getting the car serviced. I took a quick shower, threw my hair up, and ran out the door. I left with only my wallet and my blackberry. I was only planning on being gone for half an hour. After parking the car I ran inside. To my surprise there was a new employee working (Danielle). I told her that I had had my car since January and it had never been serviced and the maintenance light was on. Instantly the fun began.

"Don't you know that you're suppose to come in every twenty-eight days to renew this car? How could you have had it since January?"

I knew by the tone in her voice that this was going to be a lengthy conversation. After straightening out the facts and calmly telling her that I had been in every month like clockwork she started yelling at me again.

"Did you call *****? Did she approve this car for you? Because I don't have another car to put you in and it will be at least three hours to get it serviced."

"Who is *****???? And why would I call her to get the car approved. This was approved back in January!" Confused and frustrated I pressed on only to get yelled at further.

"You're suppose to call ***** every month and get the car approved before I can let you leave with it again. There are fifty people waiting for a vehicle and you have had this since January. Don't you know that you can't have the car all the time?"

At this point I'm beyond frustrated. I have no idea who ***** is, I have been bringing in the car every twenty-eight days, and I don't understand how I am in the wrong. I also can't figure out why I would have to turn my car in because there are other people on the list. Like everything else at Walter Reed, cars are first come first serve. Once you receive whatever it is you have been waiting for, it is yours until you leave post for good. I once again ask who ***** is and why I would have to contact her. The answer surprised me.

"Everybody knows they have to call *****. I bet you're just like the other young girl who was in here the other day who was lying about talking to *****. ***** hadn't approved her car and she was trying to beat the system. You're just being irresponsible and you're lying to me."

At this point I am pissed off. I refused to wait to speak with the all important ***** and told her to get me a cab back to Walter Reed and I would be back in three hours to pick up a vehicle.

"I can't provide you with a ride back to Walter Reed."

"OK. Then give me my car back since that lease technically goes through the 20th of this month and I'll return later when this is all sorted out."

"You can't leave when the maintenance light is on."

At this point the tears are rolling down my face and try as hard as I can, I cannot stop them. I tell her I'm leaving to go clean out the trunk and that she needs to provide transportation back to the hospital. I am at the car for no more than two minutes when she appears.

"Are you really only twenty years old?"

"Yes."

"They shouldn't have even given you a car in the first place. You have to be twenty-one to rent a car. There is no way I'm going to be putting you back in a car."

Now I really can't stop the tears. She handed me a kleenex and told me I had to "stop crying and be strong for my husband." I lost it. How dare she take away my vehicle and then try to tell me to be strong for my husband. This woman has no idea what we have been through in the last six months. She has now called me irresponsible, a liar, and a bad wife. I blew up at her. Needless to say I was given a ride back to Walter Reed... in my rental car that they took from me.

As soon as I walked through the door I started making phone calls. I have talked with the all powerful ***** and she simply made a bunch of excuses. She was the one that received my application back in January and approved my car. She had a copy of my drivers license which very clearly states my age. Instead of saying she made a mistake she blamed the Family Assistance Center, and the rental company. She then explained that although she would love to help me that there was just no possible way for me to rent a vehicle under the age of twenty-one. When asked if J.R. would be able to receive the free rental she said no. Apparently wounded soldiers are not allowed to rent a car.

I am now in D.C. with no car. If I have to go to the grocery store, I have to get a taxi. They provide taxi vouchers, but finding a cab who will accept them is no easy task. There is only one company who will take the vouchers and they're so busy that you have to schedule a pick up days in advance. Plus once I get to the store I can't have the cab wait. I have to let them go and then call them when I am done shopping and use another voucher to get home.

The age limit is bullshit. Most of the soldiers that are here at the hospital are fresh out of high school. They are young and their wives are young. The families have given up so much already. They have lost having a normal life, they've lost body parts, and they're away from home. The very least you can do is provide a car so they may buy groceries or go see a movie. This post is a hard place to live. At least with a car one can escape the life at Walter Reed if only for a few short hours.

To put the icing on the cake, my new blackberry is broken. Same problem as the razor. Fine one moment, big white screen the next. T-mobile can provide a loaner phone, but I would have to have a car so I could drive to the mall to pick up the phone.

It's been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

20 comments:

FbL said...

Oh, Honey! Don't worry. We're going to find a way to fix this. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Josie:

I have a call in to Patti Bader. I will see if there's any way to get you a car, even though I'm nowhere near DC. I'll also try Lynette, who heads up our wounded warrior team.

Hang in there just a little longer.

RPL
Soldiers Angels,NYC

Stacy said...

I am so sorry Josie that you have had to go through this. Your or no other soldier or spouse have to be put through the ringer like you have been.

Hang in there. Soldiers Angels is wonderful.

FbL said...

RPL, I was about to contact Patti myself, but I see you beat me to it. :)

See, Josie? I told you an army was standing by to help you; all you have to do is tell us what's wrong and we jump into action. Btw, a little birdie told me that Danielle will never be treating another military wife like you got treated today. I'm so sad it had to be you, but because you spoke up, no one else is going to have to deal with it.

Hang in there!

Robin said...

Gosh, I'm so sorry for your troubles! I agree that the 21 year age limit is unfair, especially in a situation like yours. There's no reason exceptions can't be made in that kind of situation, especially when you'd already had the car in the first place. And the nerve of the girl telling you to be strong for your husband?!? She probably couldn't even begin to imagine what you've been through for the last half year. I hope something can be done for you soon. I'd help if I could.

Anonymous said...

Josie:

I don't know any other way to do this, as I don't have your e-mail or phone number, but here goes.

I just got off the phone with Patti, and Soldiers Angels will arrange something for you and JR. Basically, Soldiers Angels will pay for a rental car. I will need to speak with you to get some details from you, but we will make this work. Given the problem that you had with being under 21, I or someone else will probably have to be a guarantor.

I'll contact Hertz and Avis tomorrow, and start finding out about costs. If you could contact me on Friday, we'll get this taken care of.

I'm not sure that I want to post my phone number or e-mail in an open forum, as my wife and I enjoy our privacy, so please advise me of the best way to contact you.

Actually, the best way might be for you to contact Soldiers Angels directly, and they can give you my work and home phone numbers, as well as my e-mail. If it makes you feel more comfortable, fbl met me at the milblogger conference, and she'll vouch for me. ;-)

Either way, we'll get you transportation. Talk to you on Friday.

RPL
Soldiers Angels, NYC

Tracy said...

well, I hope that little birdie told fbl that Danielle has been FIRED and that is why it won't happen to anyone else!! I cannot believe how she treated you. I just love it (serious sarcasm here) when someone makes a mistake and they blame it on others. I don't even let my kids (7 and 5) get away with that!!

I'm so glad to see that Soldiers' Angels is on it and you will get a car soon!!

FbL said...

Yay for RPL! Josie, he's definitely one of the good guys. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me. :)

Balancing Act said...

I can't believe that you had to go through that crap but glad to know that she (Danielle) has been fired as noted on previous notes. Apparently she had no idea who she was dealing with. I hope you have a much better day today in a new rental.

Anonymous said...

Josie:

I just got off the phone with Hertz. They have a program for "special services," and they would rent you a car as long as you have a major credit card. Remember, Soldiers Angels will pick up the tab. They also are willing to rent a car for up to 11 months, so this should meet your needs. They need some info from you that I don't have, so the sooner we speak, the better.

RPL
Soldiers Angels, NYC

Oddybobo said...

I'm so sorry to hear what you went through. I wonder, how many other wives did Danielle treat this way? I'd love for you to post the dealership name and really let people know who it is that has treated you so badly. Word of mouth moves mountains! Good luck, feel better about this soon, you have fabulous "angels" on your side!

MaryAnn said...

A big hug to you RPL for this and for all you do.

Josie, hugs to you and JR too :-)

MaryAnn in Germany

Kat said...

OMG - I just saw this... how terrible for you!!! I am SO sorry! I see other Angels have already hopped on this - I'll be here waiting in the wings (no pun intended) and will do what I can, if anything is needed. I see you posted an update... gonna go read that now. Hang in there - we love you and are praying for you!

Kat Orr
Soldiers Angels
Patriot Guard Rider
Georgia

Anonymous said...

One would think that Walter Reed would have a Food PX available to where the items can be "Delivered "to the wounded soldiers.
And would have a shuttle Service Free of charge.

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