I don’t preach often. In fact, short of my belief that stupid should hurt, I rarely push my beliefs on others in general, let alone in my writings. Today, I am going to make an exception. For, once in a great while, something happens that I can’t ignore, I can’t turn a blind eye to, and I can’t refuse to speak on.
By now, everyone is aware that the military, the DoD and just about anything that can be related to money spent on the military or DoD, truly related or not, is under fire. When people are looking from an objective view at the government pie charts, it’s easy to see that lots of money goes to the DoD and lots of money goes to military salaries and benefits. That’s not in question. But, there are times when looking objectively doesn’t give you the necessary information to make an informed decision. And when that happens, we have Ketchup Gate. We have groups shouting to slash at others incomes with no understanding of what that money really goes to.
I can make a case for a livable wage. For heartache, hardship, families being constantly uprooted. I can make cases for benefits making up for low wages, for differences in skill and even for basic needs like BAH because uprooting a family in Texas and not giving them a pay raise, but asking them to pay California or New York rent prices is terrible. You, as a civilian, do not take jobs in Seattle without expecting to make a wage that will allow you to live in that area if you are moving from, say, North Dakota.
But I am here today to make a case that many are forgetting. While we are all angry when our benefits are called lavish, which couldn’t be more laughable, who is fighting for VA benefits? Who is fighting for things we all take for granted like care to ensure safety?
You see, yet again, a Marine has come under harm. Not in battle, not in the course of his work, but by his own hand. And while we all are outraged at the common everyday bits of life that others are threatening to take away, there are people who matter, people who signed their names to a contract pledging their allegiance to their country, to their fellow service members and to YOU. And those people are being let down.
No one wants to take responsibility. And while the VA covers combat injuries, and Tricare covers everyday stuff, what about the people who are being left behind because they fall under neither jurisdiction, or are too afraid to admit if they do? My husband is what happens. My husband is called in the middle of the night. He flies out of bed at the ping of a text message. He runs across town, or across the state, to wherever he is needed to aid his men. He doesn’t get paid for this time. He often misses work from his civilian job to make this happen. We lose pay on both fronts for a job that he takes to be sacred.
Because when these men have no benefits to pay for their care, when they have a system that punishes them for reporting their struggles, my husband is there to fight for their life, even when they don’t have the will to do so. He is there, to fight for their life, with no thanks and no one but him to know; no one but him to remember an entire group of service members that have been forgotten. Those who still serve, but who have no benefits and are afraid to report their struggles for fear of retribution.
I don’t know why his unit seems to have so many. I don’t know even know if it’s disproportionate to the numbers at large in the military in general. But while everyone is busy squabbling about how many days the commissary will be open next week and whether or not tuition assistance is important or a luxury, there is a smaller, quieter struggle happening everyday. The struggle to find help and support for those who no one wants to lay claim to, who are too afraid to seek the help they need for fear of losing what very well might be the only thing left in their life that matters; the contract they signed, pledging their lives to a country they believed in.