Dear Congress: We Deserve Better Than This
** Hello fellow Lefties! I’m a proudly Liberal army wife from Fort Campbell who will be contributing to the efforts of the great people at LeftFace to get the voices of all military spouses and families heard. I think it’s really important to get our voices out there and let people know what being married to the military is really like as well the struggles and issues facing military families! It seems fitting that my first contribution to LeftFace is about the government shutdown that is looming over us all right now. This is cross posted from my blog, Wife During Wartime**
As the clock ticks and ‘reliable sources’ within the administration as well as politicians themselves indicate the likelihood of reaching an agreement on the budget grows small military families all over the country are quietly preparing to handle an onslaught of bills, additional stress, and hardship due to the military not being paid. Saying that the soldiers will receive back pay is no comfort at all to the hundreds of thousands of families who are living paycheck to paycheck. Besides, we know how the Army red tape works and know that realistically we’ll never see that money, or if we do it won’t be for months after the shutdown ends. The only thing that you can count on in the Army is red tape.
This will be a catastrophic financial hit to hundreds of thousands of families, make no mistake about that. Your petty bickering and slavish devotion to your own party ideology instead of to the welfare of the people who elected you, who fight for you, and fight for your freedom has devastated military families financially and emotionally. How does it feel, I wonder, to face those families and tell them that you winning spending cuts and policy changes to please your political base was far more important than making sure they could feed their children or keep a roof over their heads?
I can tell you how it feels to us. It feels like the country that we sacrifice for, and that our spouses/sons/daughters/mothers/fathers risk their lives for couldn’t give a damn about us. It feels like the American people have become so heartless, so petty, and so small minded that getting their own way is the only thing is that matters and if people get hurt so what. And yes, my fellow citizens, you have a part to play in this too. You elected these people. You gave them the ‘mandate’ to push your own ideologies ahead of everyone else’s and not to compromise or act like grownups. Don’t think that you’re blameless in all of this, although ultimately the responsibility for thousands of starving military families will fall on the politicians whose petty political wrangling was far more important than the survival of the families whose loved ones are overseas fighting for this country.
I can also tell you that your rhetoric about how back pay will be coming, and how businesses will understand and cut us slack when it comes to paying our bills, is completely unrealistic. Businesses can take the high road and give us a break knowing that we are not getting paid, but they don’t have to. And considering how many money grubbing, barely legitimate businesses prey on soldiers I’m guessing many won’t. I hope you never have to know how it feels to know that your spouse/son/daughter/mother/father could be injured or dead and that you wouldn’t know it because your cell phone got shut off because you couldn’t pay the bill because Congress refused to pay your soldier. I hope you never have to explain to a child why he or she never got to talk to their parent one last time before that parent died because the Internet got shut off. I hope you never know the anguish of wondering if the person you love most in the world is hurt, or dying, or dead and having to live with the stress of enforced poverty like having bill collectors calling at all hours, watching your credit rating tank, waiting for the car or house to get repossessed, or trying to figure out how to feed your family every day. But we’ll know it, because that’s the position that you have put us in.
I hope that your wives will never go for weeks without talking to their spouse only to have him appear online for 2 minutes to say that he got hurt but will be ok, that we’re moving to yet another place I don’t want to live, and that he needs more money to call home (because soldiers overseas have to pay to call home) and then disappear for another week. I hope that they will never have the additional stress of having a paycheck taken away on top of all that worry and stress, because it’s a really awful position to be in and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
There is so much lip service paid to military families by the government but your complete failure to come through for military families in this case shows very clearly that it is indeed just lip service. You don’t care about the suffering of military families. All you care about is pleasing the fat wallet donors who fund your campaigns. It’s hard for me, as the wife of a soldier who has done multiple deployments and cares so much for his country that he puts his service to that country before his own safety, his own life, and even before his family to understand the selfishness that you have displayed through this crisis. I cannot fathom living my life so unconcerned about the suffering of others. But that’s probably why my husband serves, and I sacrifice, and you and your family don’t. You may think that we are all ignorant peons, poor shmucks who won’t realize how badly we are being treated, but I can tell you unequivocally that the men and women who serve and their families represent this country far better than you ever will.
The issue of whether or not families have savings or other support systems is a non sequitur. Soldiers deserve to be paid. Not paying them causes huge hardships and additional stresses on families that are already stressed to the breaking point in service to this country.
My nephew, who wants to become an engineer so he can help reconstruct countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, recently wrote my deployed husband a letter calling him a hero, and praising the other soldiers who serve with him. He said:
“I want you to know that all of us miss you guys, and we can’t wait for you to come home. I can’t wait to meet my hero in person, and I would love to be the first one to shake your hand . Your sacrifice for our country is immeasurable, and without you America would not be what it is today. In the land of the free the brave fight to keep our freedom. I want you to always remember that you are doing the right thing for all the right reasons. It is you that is the incredible one, not me. Our country salutes you!”
How is it that my 12 year old nephew knows what you don’t – that our soldiers and their families deserve better treatment than this. Our lives should not be used as bargaining chips so that you can push your ideology down everyone’s throats.
An Army Wife