I just watched my first episode of The Unit. I really enjoyed the concept of the show! The tough guys, their tough wives, etc. I’ll definitely watch more.
But something bugged me. Okay, a couple of somethings. First, when the fiance of the dead man was being forced to move out of base housing. Um, she wouldn’t be allowed to LIVE there in the first place. She’s not a wife, she’s not authorized. She also wouldn’t be authorized to go into the stores on base either. How did she shop? I take it she was a stay-at-home mom to her fiance’s children. Did he go shopping for the family? I have known, way in the past, a mom whose kid had an ID card while she did not. She was able to shop for the child, using the ID card. But she was the legal guardian as well. As this show proceeded to demonstrate, this woman was NOT the legal guardian.
The dead man would have been authorized base housing because he had the two little girls. But his fiance couldn’t live there. She could stay for 30 days, as a guest, but then she’d have to go. Of course the base housing office doesn’t just come around and inspect on the spot (I had company for 5 weeks once). In fact, they never do. But if someone reported the situation, that man stood to lose his entitlement. He wouldn’t have done it. No, he’d have married the woman a lot sooner. They were supposedly together for 4 years. If it’d been only a few months, sure, I could see where they might not have gotten around to the marriage yet. But when your colonel and all your buddies know what’s going on, the chances they’d all keep mum about the housing issue (especially the colonel, whose job it is to enforce the rules) is pretty unlikely. If everyone was keeping mum about her being there, then why was the colonel so keen on getting her off base the instant her fiance died? If he’d been pretending not to know she was staying there illegally, he wouldn’t have begrudged her the 90 days which dependents are entitled to. Made no sense.
The other big thing is the money issue. Yes, all that entitlement stuff, the death benefits, etc, is pretty accurate. But they forgot SGLI (Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance). It’s mandatory. The guy whose wife was upset and trying to force him to sign an insurance policy was not realistic because he ALREADY has $450K of life insurance that the military forces him to pay around $20 for every month. So did the dead guy, btw, and his children would probably have been the beneficiaries, though he could actually have named anyone he wanted (like his fiance). I am the beneficiary of my husband’s policy, but he also has alternate beneficiaries in case something happened to both of us at the same time. The personnel flight doesn’t let you ignore this stuff. You are forced to deal with it on a fairly regular basis (yearly to every 3 years or so, depending on branch). Again, not reflective of military reality.
Why is this important? Well, it’s not really, I suppose. But it is to someone like me, who can’t buy the plotline because I know at the root the causes are wrong. I don’t know everything, and I certainly don’t know everything about the things I write. I am terrified of getting the research wrong, but I figure it’s inevitable at some point. I don’t mind some things, like when someone makes a mistake about geography (say they put Maunakea Street in Waikiki when it really belongs in Chinatown), but if it’s integral to the plot, it just bothers the heck out of me when the fundamentals are wrong.
So please, get your details right because someone, somewhere, is going to KNOW the truth. When it’s a whole lotta someones, in the case of the military and how it functions, your work loses credibility. I doubt the military will tune out The Unit en masse. But they’ll trust the show less the next time. I know I will.