"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:13
The topper on the latest, most-blatant disrespect of our military members has enraged me beyond belief.
How could something as shameful as denying immediate survivor benefits to the families of deceased military families have happened? And yet it did, to the families of the service members who died in the line of duty since the government shutdown.
Blame it on the government shutdown? Really? How on earth did this happen to these families?
How much more political game-playing has to happen before this nonsense ends? Why must the military continue to be used as pawns in a stalemated, government chess game?
First of all, the description of our “all-volunteer military” is grossly inaccurate. Volunteer does not mean “free.” What it means is that someone’s husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild, niece or nephew has answered the call of defending our country, and is willing to lay their life on the line so that someone else doesn’t have to. It means that our country doesn’t have a draft to pull people into the military. It means that someone felt the call to defend our country and uphold the constitution of the United States of America. It means while they are training, defending, performing first aid and going without sleep, someone else can attend college or trade school or live a normal life.
It means that they are defending their fellow citizens’ right to free speech, as ugly as that speech can be at times. It means that people can go to the mall on weekends, or attend a sporting event or sit with a six-pack and watch a game on the weekend. It means that others can be in attendance of their child’s birth, wedding, or graduation. It means that people can gather for holidays and family events – all while our service members miss these opportunities and miss milestones in their families’ lives, making sure that other’s lives are not interrupted. It means that the personal dedication of each one that takes the oath makes our military more professional, because they choose to be there – it is not forced.
Our service member’s families are displaced with frequent moves and deployment rotations that occur more often than some people rotate their tires. The families also serve, by supporting their service member.
As a madder-than-heck military spouse, I have had it with political games played at the expense of our military. There should not be a fear that payday won’t arrive, that benefits and retirement are in jeopardy, that commissaries and libraries close to make a political point. And above all, a grieving family should never, ever, be shut out from survivor benefits to make a point. Words can’t even describe the sick feeling that overwhelmed me when this news broke. What does that say about our nation? Is this how we say thanks?
It disgusts me how our service members and veterans are treated by our government and our country. Injured military members have to wait on a broken system to receive treatment. The jobless rate for veterans is deplorable. Why? Are employers fearful of post-traumatic stress disorder? Fearful of hiring someone who could be deployed again?
And the stereotypes of military families and their spouses are grossly unjust and mean-spirited. Military spouses are considered lazy whiners. Entitlement and discount seekers. Really? Do you know how hard it is to sustain a career when moving every few years? Or work, run a household and raise children under the stress of a deployment? There is never a moment of peace for a military spouse, they know the danger their loved ones face. Should we be left to wonder if our spouse’s pay will be on time, and, here’s the kicker – whether it is correct? Should our service members have that “no pay” worry on their heads while they dodge IEDs and bullets? Do you think that maybe spouses are not whining, but raising legitimate concerns and complaints, hoping our leaders will hear them?
If this nonsense continues, who is going to step up and join the military? And for those who are currently up for reenlistment – will we lose them and their much needed skills? Is this how we thank those that put the uniform on every day – and I mean every day?
It is time for our President, Senate and Congress to act like leaders and stop using the military every time there is a budget crisis. Negotiate – it is your job. It doesn’t matter what side of the political fence you are on. Someone needs to step up with an olive branch, negotiate and start resolving these issues.
It is time for citizens of this nation to realize what our military does – and why. They aren’t out there because they like war. In fact, if you asked them, they would prefer to keep the peace here at home. But they are out there anyway, risking their lives and missing out on time with their families so that others don’t. They serve for the greater good.
They know the risks of their jobs, and are willing to continue on, despite what our leaders do – or don’t do. Our military deserves better than what they have been getting lately. And so do their families, especially those who mourn the loss of their hero, who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
© Lynne Cobb - 2013
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