Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Behind the Buzz Words

As a child, the most thrilling part of being an Army brat was moving around the world. I spent my early life traveling in Europe when Dad was based in Idar-Oberstein, going to Patton's tomb, walking the streets of Paris, visiting cemeteries and national monuments, and playing the part of a citizen of the world, or at least the child of a citizen of the world. I played in the jungles of Panama and hide-and-seek and pirates in the fortresses left behind by Spanish conquerors and pirates of legend. I lived through riots in the Canal Zone of the 1960s and with fear of snipers every night for weeks after the riots were over. I traveled from the east coast to the west coast of America and continued to travel on my own when I married an Air Force NCO, camp follower to my military husband, making a home wherever we were sent, except for Iceland and Thailand where I was not allowed to go with him.

I never thought about medical or dental insurance because the military took care of us. We had enough food, good (if elderly) lodgings, and a safe community where my children played and wandered the community without fear as I had done wherever we lived. Movies were a quarter when I was a child and not much more than that when my children were young and we went to the movies on base. They were more expensive when we took the kids to the drive-in, but the kids were free. It was a good life for me and a good life for our children. It's hard to say that now.

When politicians invoke the words "military budget cuts" everyone thinks of missiles, battleships, and the hardware of military government used to make war on our enemies and our allies and protect us from the rest of the world. Military budgets do not remind us of the men and women, or their families, who serve day in and day out for less than minimum wage sometimes. Well, you might say, they get dental and medical for free and the cost of their groceries is less than ours. True -- to a point. Cutting the military budget doesn't mean that no more battleships or missiles or arms will not get built and used; it means that families and servicemen and women will have fewer services and more will end up on food stamps. Of course, that does not affect the big brass, but it does the rest of the men and women who serve to protect our country and freedom.

Buzz words seem to be all people hear and no one wants to look further than the emotions those buzz words invoke to what's behind the words. Do you really think that $700 screwdrivers and $2000 hammers will not still end up in the budget? Think again.

This has become a world where the men and women who serve in combat areas often have to beg for money from their families to buy body armor because what's available is out of date and stressed by continuous use to the point of being no more protective than the cardboard shields and armor I wore as a child while playing soldiers as a child. Their families often need food stamps to get enough for their families. Cut the military budget again as is being discussed in Congress now will not end waste, but it will affect the families, men, and women whose lives are bound up in military budgets and who will be the first casualties of budget cuts.

I agree that budgets need to be cut, but it needs to be the precision cutting of a laser and not the butchering of necessary services to the NCOs and their families. These people are the one who do all the heavy lifting and all the work. You can be assured that no civilian employee or contractor to the military will suffer from those cuts. The cuts will come from the people who should be supported and aren't.

Budget cuts will mean that military families, already stressed in the current economy, will have to pay for medical and dental care. The poor on Welfare get better treatment than the military families who give up their lives and their homes to protect this country and keep it free.

Next time you hear the buzz words "military budget cuts" ask what will be included and don't stop asking until you hear the full story. Military budgets include a lot more than you realize and the effect of those cuts on real people, the people who wear the uniform of American soldiers in every branch of the service will be affected. Forget the buzz words. Demand the truth and then let your voices be heard.

The world I grew up in is very different from the current world. I have enough because I work, but I remember the days of travel and living in modest accommodations in exotic locales while my father served over 22 years in the Army. It's a sad world where the poor get more than the people who give their lives and their time to protect us and keep us free.