Friday, April 8, 2011

I is for Irony

Ice Cube was really is all about the dolla bills, y'all.

I had to make a phone call tonight that I never dreamed I would make...certainly not during a deployment...the one time that most military families are actually able to save some money. As I dialed our Family Readiness Group Leader's number, I thought I do not even know where to start.

We have many young Soldiers in our unit who are making E4, E5, E6 pay. I Googled it just because E4 was so long ago for Neal that I don't think he would have a clue as to what they are making now.


I made $23,000 one first year out of college. I had a one bedroom apartment on the shady side of town and budgeted fiercely in order to put food on my table and kibble in the kitties' bowls. I learned what it meant to live "paycheck to paycheck." There was no wiggle room for movies or new shoes...let alone oil changes, flat tires, or birthday gifts. I did not have children to feed and clothe or a spouse to provide for and I still struggled every single month. An unexpected expense would send me into a financial tailspin that took months, and sometimes years, to dig out of. And yet, we have E4's and E5's in our unit who are married, have children, have bills to pay...bills that now sit squarely on the shoulders of the spouse back home.

Imagine for just a moment that you are sweaty, sand-encrusted, and 7,000 miles from home. It is your first deployment to a place where nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe. But your one and only concern is how your family is coping. Can your spouse sleep? Are your children sad? Can they keep the heat on and the fridge stocked? Oh...except that last one was not really a worry...until today. But tack it on to the list because you live paycheck to paycheck while you're chipping away at time in grade. No longer do you just worry about the emotional state of your family, now you dwell on whether their basic needs are being met. And as CPT Miller will tell you, when a Soldier is preoccupied, it often results in disaster.

But how did we get here? Mama Virgo told me tonight that yesterday's post was "impassioned." I will settle for that...let's shoot for "educational" now.

According to US Debt, we, as the United States of America, are a little over $14 trillion in debt. I feel like I should capitalize "trillion" somehow it has earned that right. If you watch the debt clock for any length of time, I promise you will experience chest pain and dizziness...perhaps tingling in the extremities. It is a fact of life that to slow the whirring increase of numbers, there has to be a budget. Many active duty families are familiar with budgets as most of us live on just one income...the one from the Department of Defense. Moving every three years (or less) and effectively maintaining the household through multiple deployments can make it difficult for the spouse to work a full-time job. We, along with 100,000's of other military families sit down at the beginning of each fiscal year and determine where the money should go. There are exasperated sighs and sometimes tears but there is always an agreement. It does not take more than an evening and a bottle of wine. It certainly does not take 8 months.

Maybe what Representative John Boehner and Senator Harry Reid need is a nice cask of chianti.

Or a swift kick in the ass.

According to several sources, including Politico, Roll Call, CNN, and the Huffington Post, it's not necessarily the budget itself that can't seem to pass the senate (although, bless their hearts, they do start the meetings with dollar signs spewing from their lips)'s the political agendas hitching a free ride. Isn't that a familiar tune? One that you could almost whistle backwards. The total reduction to federal spending has been negotiated to something in the ballpark of $35 billion. Now...where and what? Senior Republicans are fighting for a cut to discretionary domestic spending (which bears an uncanny resemblance to cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood and introducing restrictions on EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases) while freshmen Republicans are storming Capitol Hill with their rallying cry, "We will cut spending!" Is it any wonder that our government is shutting down? There are divisions even within the parties.

So, why am I asking Vanna to buy an "i"? Because 3 penis-packing individuals have met throughout the day and night, attempting to reach a compromise on Planned organization that primarily provides medical attention to women. What business do they have negotiating annual pap smears, breast exams, and prenatal care? And above all, why is that program the reason why I had to call our FRG Leader tonight and suggest we begin looking at financial aid for families?

Aside from this entire process proving to be petty, typical, and disappointing, it's ironic. If the federal government shuts down tomorrow night, some of our 352 families will get a phone call on Saturday morning and instead of discussing T-ball games and Spring Break plans with their Soldiers, they will have to discuss options for a new that will get them through until Congress, who will continue to receive full and on time paychecks, can decide on the nation's budget. It really is all about the dolla bills, y'all...until it's about Washington boobs discussing your boobs instead.

*If you have an opinion on the rider which provides federal funding for Planned Parenthood or the issue of our nation's debt, I invite you to write your Congressman or woman. I just ask that you remind him/her that riders have nothing to do with The War on Terror. Our military and their families sacrifice years of their lives for this country. As we say...all give some and some give all. Why give them some of a paycheck when we could give it all?
Write your Representative
Write your Senator

**If you are a military family that will fall into financial crisis if paychecks are interrupted, check out the National Military Family Association for information on temporary financial aid.


  1. Thank you, hun! Very impassioned, educational AND kick-ass-HOOAH!!!

    I'm kinda in tears. I'm not even sure why. We are OK, and will be OK. But I know many won't be. All the deployments, all the sacrifices, all the stresses...and now this. Do we really mean so little to them? Why are we always forgotten? When will all our efforts ever be appreciated?? Hell, acknowledged???????

    I'm trying so hard and so valiantly to dig myself out of depression, to plan fun things to do with my family, to make our life better...and now this. No matter what I do, it seems to turn to dust.

    I'm just so beyond disgusted with our system of government right now. They all just truly sucketh.

  2. You are SO right. This morning they apparently have a "deal" on EPA, so we are now $3 Billion and Planned Parenthood away from a budget. I will write my congressman, but embarrassingly enough, I am theoretically represented by Eric Cantor! Think I will make any in-roads there? I doubt it, too. But if you don't try....

    Keep writing, Ally!

  3. Preach on girl. Seriously thank you for this. Reading these numbers I'm shocked at the E4 pay. I live in the south and in order to live here I took a huge pay cut to be with the man I love. My pay isn't much different than an E4 but the difference is I am not putting my neck on the line everyday for the freedom of my country or the protection of those who live here. I also don't have a family to care for and a joint income home. I'm even looking to downsize my living expenses so that Mike and I might save for a future together and have extra money instead of living paycheck to paycheck - I have champagne dreams but a Miller High Life budget and you know what I do... I drink the high life or a $5.00 bottle of wine on the weekends to relax. I don't over shoot what I have to "have a great time".

    If I could afford to donate my paycheck to those soldiers families that fight for me everyday I would. It's not right and it's not fair!

    If Americans like me can work to spend less and pay off debt and scrape by then the big wigs in Washington and beyond need to learn to do the same. Everyday I try to find ways to spend less, pay off more so that I can do this. BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET.

    Thank you for writing this and yesterdays blog girl. It really does open eyes and it's nice to see my feelings expressed so well through your words! ox

  4. Look, all I know is I saw on the news today that soldiers won't get paid because of the shutdown...but the congress will.

  5. Thank you and I already have written letters and emails.

    MiMi--you are right! What is up with that???

    It all makes me sick

    that is all

  6. Well said, girly. Very well said. I can't imagine anyone getting by on $23k a year... Not to mention all the emotional toll that comes along with deployment, this all just seems terribly unfair.

    As a democrat, I'm really saddened by what has become of our government. I can't necessarily say I think it was any better when Bush was in office (I don't truly think that it was) but I agree wholeheartedly that this is NOT the solution. And sometimes we do just have to put politics aside to come up with a solution that is just and fair for the people.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and Neal and all the other soldiers having to deal with these cuts.


  7. I just read an article that said the entire debate has now come down to the "defunding" of Planned Parenthood. This is better known as Conservative Republicans pushing their social agenda against abortion. Sad that so many people are going to lose a pay check because of a social agenda.

    I also feel like more people should be outraged about this whole situation. It seems that people who aren't going to be directly affected just don't care. Maybe that's why things like this happen in the first place. People need to wake up and start caring. This shutdown is going to affect us all.

  8. My hubs called from the Stan this morning and I had to inform him of this possible shutdown!! He and the guys in his shop had NO IDEA!!! Thankfully this will go unoticed for us, but that is not the case with SO MANY. This is an OUTRAGE that our troops are being hung out to dry. DESPICABLE!! All because a bunch of rich men are behaving like juvenile a-holes, and all they do is point the finger at each other, and resolve nothing. Well, I have one finger in particular that I would like to point at EVERY ONE OF THEM.

    Once again, another great post! Thank you! So many civilians have NO clue what we go through, and many of them are SHOCKED when the hear the truth! I dont mean that as a "woe is me", throw me a pity party, just that the public should be made aware what our sacrifices are so that our significant other can serve our country.

  9. Great post, Ally! The whole situation is embarrassing and frustrating. How can these people can themselves our representatives?

  10. Great blog sweetie. I have been furious over this for all these men and women fighting. This also shows people how little our military get paid which again is a huge reason for our project. When our troops can't get home because it costs too much before and after deployments something has to change. Thank you for shining a light on all this mess. Thank God they came to an agreement. It was a huge relief.


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