America, to me and the majority of its citizens, will always be the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. A place that is home and stirs the embers of our hearts. Oh of course like any other country we have had and continue to have our ups and downs. Like any family we squabble with our brothers and sisters. I have been angry with, happy for, and sometimes nonchalant about the everyday goings on of this great country. But rarely have I literally hung my head in shame, that is until yesterday.
The details are in this article courtesy of Defense One Newsletter. The first line “Call it a promise placed on hold.” immediately gripped my heart with a what now feeling. The government is already partial shutdown while our two Houses of Congress play tug of war with our livelihoods. All manner of thoughts having to do with the economy, politics, and even scandals ran through my mind. But never in my wildest dreams, or in this case nightmares, did I ever think I would read something as dastardly as this.
I am a product of, and pretty familiar with military life. My father proudly retired from the Army and served two tours in Vietnam. My sister and brother are both Army veterans. And I have many family members and friends in all branches of the military. So from time to time I would hear complaints of some benefit or other that the person who was serving was promised when they enlisted, that over time changed, even though the person serving had completely fulfilled their part of the bargain. Usually it was something like a certain medical procedure, or dental procedure that was no longer covered.
Just as recently as earlier this week I shared a conversation with a retired veteran who is now paying for parts of Tricare that were promised free when she enlisted. I want to go on record as saying that these veterans can’t go back and renegotiate their actions on the field, so neither should their care now be renegotiated after the fact. If financial challenges require cutting back benefits, let those who served under past promises be grandfathered in and new recruits be signed up fully aware of what the terms are now.
As bad as these changes were, I never felt the disgrace slapped harder in the face of our military as when I read the story of these soldiers who gave their lives in service for this country. The soldiers who defend our freedom to even stupidly shut down the government with our partisan shenanigans; these same soldiers’ families were told that our country’s solemn word to care for their families would still hold, but would be delayed. Congress their blood is on your hands for every tear their spouses and children shed. And it will be on ours if we continue to elect such callous, stiff-necked representatives the next time we go to the polling booths.
Any Congressman or woman who is still okay with the shutdown and benefits being “delayed”, please put yourself in these soldiers’ shoes as they flew out of our homeland at peace because the government had their backs and their families would be taken care of. They did not hesitate. When they stepped onto the battlefield and into the line of fire for America, they did not falter, nor did they “delay”. In all good conscience, how can you “delay” their due and sleep well at night?
To the military that are in harm’s way daily, and the families of those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, we honor you; our condolences and prayers are with you. We thank you for your services and our hearts are grateful. I hope you don’t even get to see stories like the one above. Just know that we support you and your services. And we will call, write, text, tweet and do everything we can to get Congress to no longer “delay” a key mission and that is “fulfilling President Lincoln’s promise ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans”. And may God Bless and guide America.