Benefits Coping Military Life

The Great Divide is .17

Brain refresher: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/commissary-plan-backlash-show-difficulty-of-cutting-military-personnel-spending/2013/06/01/15fb6c12-c922-11e2-9245-773c0123c027_story.html

My favorite portion of said article is the little tagline for the photo: “Shoppers forage for bargains at the commissary at Ft. Belvoir.” (Forage?? Really? Secretly, I’m kinda glad I wasn’t there that day with my coupons. Geezzz…)

But, it does seem as though the number of articles I read about how “luxurious” military benefits have become, or how “bloated” and “overpaid” our service members are have gone up. Significantly up.

After over 11 years of war, I’m frankly tired of having to explain to bean counters and unaware civilians why they are wrong. It doesn’t matter, because you won’t understand what I’m talking about…and I just don’t care anymore whether you do or don’t. For those that feel we are overpaid, over-benefited and a burden to this nation, please. Just stop talking. Or, writing or whatever medium you use to regurgitate utter and complete foolishness. Because you don’t know what you are talking about.

To me and almost every other military spouse or service member out there who has any real knowledge of how our life works, you sound ill-informed and completely out of touch with any sort of modern day military reality. You sound so bitter and so pathetically “have not” that I almost (almost) feel sorry for how little you really do know.

And…

You. Just. Don’t. Understand. And, you won’t.

You won’t understand until you’ve held your best friend on the floor of a government housing kitchen as she hears the news that her husband, the father of her four children, will not be coming home. Ever.

You won’t understand until you’ve stood with 75 other spouses as seven service member wheel themselves into a party in wheelchairs.

You won’t understand until you’ve had to be all things to all people because you are alone most of your marriage.

You won’t understand the fear of seeing your husband’s unit taking bombs on the news and wondering for a full 48 hours if he was one that died.

You won’t understand until you’ve had to tell your children that their father won’t be coming home for their special occasions because he’s serving this nation.

You won’t understand until you’ve had to battle the demons at night. Alone and cold.

You won’t understand until you’ve been used as a pawn in a government that cannot seem to balance its budget and do the simple math.

You won’t understand until you’ve stood in line and had to choose between diapers and milk to get to the next pay period.

You won’t understand until you’ve gone numb, and the 21 gun salute stops making you jump because you’ve heard it so many times now it has become routine.

You won’t understand until you’ve had to sit through emergency room visits alone, with all of your children, not just the sick ones because you have no one else to help you in a new town.

You won’t understand until you’ve had to say goodbye to all that you know and all that you love so that you can be together with the man or woman you love in the military.

You won’t understand until the only people that DO are your neighbors in on-base housing.

So, forgive me, if just this once, I don’t bother pointing out how senseless your arguments are, or how irrelevant your numbers have become. Forgive me if I don’t point out that our benefits are PART OF OUR COMPENSATION and offered to us as a way to offset the abysmal pay we receive. Forgive me if I don’t point out how a civilian contractor who does the same thing as most military active duty gets paid THREE times what our military men and women do for the SAME job. Why? Because they know our pay sucks. So, please, forgive me if I fail to point out that if you cut our benefits, you should ADD to our salaries the amount of the benefits’ worth. I also won’t bother to point out in excruciating detail how the government has already figured out it is cheaper to pay us less and offer more benefits than it is to pay us what we are worth.

So, it’s about way more than the .17 difference between the price of Heinz at the commissary and the price of Heinz at WalMart.

Please forgive me if just this once I am selfish and simply say, “Respectfully, the .17 divide is too vast today. You just don’t understand.”

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