Friday, April 8, 2011
Confused, and quite possibly disgusted
First let me explain something. Have you ever wondered why so many military spouses are stay-at-home moms/dad/wives/husbands? I can tell you from experience, it is not because we are lazy or that we have no ambitions...I had a full-time job a few months ago for about a year (before and during our last deployment). I decided to quit so that Ben and I could spend more time together.
If you are not military, imagine for a moment that you don't get to see or hug or kiss your spouse for 6+ entire months. When you come home from work, you have to feed the dog and play with her, even though you are tired. You make your own dinner-for-one every night. You go to bed looking at the picture of your spouse by your nightstand. You wake up by yourself, eat breakfast by yourself, and start the day all over again. Maybe once a week, if you're lucky, you'll get to talk to him for about 30 minutes (if the connection doesn't go out). You never know where he is, and the reality is you probably don't want to know since that information will only worry you more. You deal with things mostly on your own. If something goes wrong, you have to make the decision if you want to tell him about it or not, since there's nothing he can do about it so far away.
Let me tell you something else: Ben and I will never get to spend an entire week together (and have yet to do so in our marriage), with the exception of POM leave. (If you don't know what that is, look it up.) That's once a year, if that--until our shore tour kicks in. But I'm not explaining this to get pity, nosirree. We don't need it. Our experience in the military has been a rewarding one. I've learned things about myself that I never would have known before. I never thought of myself as a strong woman, and after this last deployment, I know I am. Ben really helped me out during the deployment by always calling me whenever he had the chance. He sent me the sweetest messages that I never would have known he had the capacity to write, if we weren't separated for so long. I knew, even though he was on the other side of the world, that he was completely mine. The thing that I will treasure the most from this first deployment is the inner strength that I found in myself.
So now you can imagine how it is, for a moment, to be a military spouse. Now don't forget the all important fact that every time your spouse is out at sea (or deployed in Army/ Marine Corps/ Air Force cases), they are a target. It's in the back of every spouse's mind that they could get a "knock on the door" any day. Civilian jobs just don't warrant this kind of worry.
Now tell me why my husband isn't getting paid again, and yet those in Congress, and the President & VP still are? Because I can't seem to understand it yet. The President, VP, and those in Congress were elected to stand up for others, so that everyone had a voice. They have a duty to be the first to accept a pay "pause" while those in harm's way are away from their families. They set the example. There is no reason that a family should be separated and not paid, because the government tells them so.
Remember, the majority of military families are one-income families--simply so that spouses can actually get to see each other. We are a one-income family. If Ben's pay is stopped (insert the argument for "Oh you'll get the money back later once the situation has cleared") we will not be able to pay our bills. We can't pay our mortgage, phone bill, tv bill, internet bill, car payment, utilities, credit card bills, as well as the other various bills every family has to pay, on time. The problem arises in the fact that no one knows when this situation will be over. If it lasts just a week, fine, we probably won't be affected as long as we get our full paycheck on the 15th. If it lasts any longer, it's only going to go downhill for us and so many others.
This is not a message directed towards friends or family...this is a message directly to those in Congress. Forget that I'm a military wife and remember that I am speaking not only for my own family, but also for others. Quit playing the bipartisan politics he said/ she said game. I know you think your party is right and the other party is wrong. But now is not the time to argue Republicans vs. Democrats. Now is the time to step up and give a little on both sides. Stubbornness got us to this point, six months after a budget should have been approved. Now is the time to remember (dare I say it?) that your paychecks (Congress) aren't as deserved as the military ones. Our fate lies solely in your hands at this point. You can be as stubborn as you want because your pockets aren't being affected. It is not fair to require of others what you would not do to yourselves.