At Mother Jones:
Michael Clauer is a captain in the Army Reserve who commanded over 100 soldiers in Iraq. But while he was fighting for his country, a different kind of battle was brewing on the home front. Last September, Michael returned to Frisco, Texas, to find that his homeowners’ association had foreclosed on his $300,000 house—and sold it for $3,500. This story illustrates the type of legal quagmire that can get out of hand while soldiers are serving abroad and their families are dealing with the stress of their deployment. And fixing the mess isn’t easy.
Michael went on active duty in February 2008 and was sent to Iraq. After he shipped out, his wife May slipped into a deep depression, according to court documents. "A lot of people say that the deployment is more stressful on the spouse than the actual person who’s being deployed," Michael, 37, says in an interview with Mother Jones. May Clauer had two kids to take care of—a ten-year-old and a one-year-old with a serious seizure-related disorder. In addition, she was worried sick about her husband. Michael’s company was doing convoy security in Iraq—an extremely dangerous job. "It was a pretty tough year for the whole company," he says. "We had IEDs, rocket attacks and mortar attacks, and a few soldiers that were hurt pretty bad and had to be airlifted back to the States."
Seeking to avoid hearing about the situation in Iraq, May stopped watching the news. She rarely answered the door, and Michael says he couldn’t tell her when he went "outside the wire"—off-base. May also stopped opening the mail. "I guess she was scared that she would hear bad news," says Michael. That was why she missed multiple notices from the Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association informing her that the family owed $800 in dues—and then subsequent notices stating that the HOA was preparing to foreclose on the debt and seize the home.
In case you’re wondering, there are indeed laws that are supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening:
There are a bevy of laws that are supposed to protect servicemembers from losing their homes or jobs while they’re on active duty, including the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The homeowners’ association’s lawyer filed an affidavit wrongly claiming that neither of the Clauers was on active duty, says Barbara Hale, the couple’s lawyer. Hale is seeking to have the court reverse the foreclosure and declare it "null and void," she says.
Aw, shucks. I’m sure the homeowners’ association and their lawyer meant to investigate the issue, but reconsidered when they realized it was a lot more convenient to just lie about it.
Maybe I’m being too harsh; then again, the circumstances look, well, fishy:
In Texas, homeowners’ associations can foreclose on homes without a court order, no matter the size of the debt. In May 2008, the HOA sold the Clauers’ home for a pittance—$3,500—although its appraisal value was $300,000, according to court documents. The buyer then resold the house to a third person.
Maybe there’s a good explanation for that, too.
Select Management Co., the company that manages Heritage Lakes, declined to comment for this story.
Or maybe not.
Unfortunately, abuse of solders-as-consumers is rampant; consumer protection laws in the United States are woefully inadequate, so if you’re unable to fight tooth-and-nail to protect the minimal rights you have — perhaps because you’re on the other side of the planet — then odds are good you’ll just get rolled and have to fight in the courts for a few years to get back to where you’ve started. Progress has been made on that front under the current Administration and Congress, we’re still a long way from an acceptable state of affairs.
I would normally leave it at that, but then The New York Times Magazine came along:
For the past few years, it’s been open season on Generation Y — also known as the millennials, echo boomers or, less flatteringly, Generation Me. Once described by the trend-watchers Neil Howe and William Strauss as “the next great generation” — optimistic, idealistic and destined to do good — millennials, born between 1982 and 2002, have been depicted more recently by employers, professors and earnestly concerned mental-health experts as entitled whiners who have been spoiled by parents who overstoked their self-esteem, teachers who granted undeserved A’s and sports coaches who bestowed trophies on any player who showed up.
As they’ve entered adulthood, they have inspired a number of books on how unmanageable they are in the workplace, with their ubiquitous iPods, flip-flops and inability to take criticism. Stories abound about them as college students, requiring 24/7 e-mail access to professors and running to Mom and Dad for help with papers or to contest a bad grade. A consensus has emerged that, psychologically, they’re a generation of basket cases: profoundly narcissistic and deprived of a sense of agency by their anxiously overinvolved parents — in short, a “nation of wimps,” as Hara Estroff Marano, the Psychology Today editor at large, has put it.
(Via Greenfield.) I normally refrain from reading, much less commenting about, such drivel, but the "nation of wimps" comment deserves a response.
The same day that story was published, Army Pfc. Christopher R. Barton, 22, died in Khowst province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire.
"Nation of wimps?"