Monday, April 11, 2011

Too Much at Stake

The 4500 + page views I have received on my open letter to President Obama and Congress indicates (to me, anyway) that there is a general feeling of frustration and revulsion amongst the American people...unless you are passing my blog on to friends in a this-chick-has-fallen-straight-off-her-rocker kind of way. But the 50 comments I've received thus far say otherwise. I can be a voice for the military families who either can't or won't speak for themselves. I've always questioned authority and given my opinions freely so I consider myself mission ready.

At 11:55 PM on Friday 8 April, both email inboxes and my Facebook page exploded with congratulatory comments. I, along with the rest of my military family and the 100,000's of federal employees did a Happy Payday Dance of Joy. Wiping away tears of relief and exhaustion, I typed one last status update on the FRG fan page...Looks like we are going to be OK. And then I slept for 10 hours.

Since then, I've had some time to think about the past week...and talk to Army Dad, who took the opportunity to explain how this happened in 1995. OK yes, I was 16 in 1995 and government shutdowns were not nearly as sexy as Kirk Cameron in a leather bomber jacket. There is a chance that I was oblivious to all things Congressional. I would say that I am pretty much caught up on the Shutdown of '95 now, though.

Shana discussed the situation with J, who said that any politician guilty of stripping troops (especially deployed troops) of their paychecks would be voting themselves right out of a job next year.

Neal was largely unconcerned...although he did email me a copy of his LES (Leave & Earning Statement) for 15 April which showed half of his regular pay. That was Friday morning and right around the time that I began to freak the hell out. I spent most of Friday glued to CNN and Facebook, waiting for the situation to change and watching the clock tick towards midnight.

And then...confetti fell from the sky and we all took a victory lap.

Now, 48 hours later, I find myself wondering if we were ever truly in jeopardy. Did I get our backs up over nothing? Was it all a media stunt? Is it alarmist journalism or a game of political chicken? Or did we scream so loudly that Washington's ears perked?

Even though there is so much slime in D.C. that someone should have called Ghostbusters a long time ago, in my heart I still believe that everyone is basically good...that pathological liars are few and far between and everyone who is elected to office dedicates their tenure to the vision of our founding fathers. I do not want to believe that our troops and their families were used a bargaining chip when all else failed. 

And yet, that seems to be the consensus.

When I think about families stretched thin financially and emotionally, exhausted in a way that only multiple deployments can wear you down...and the moment that a casualty officer rings the doorbell of a military parent or spouse...and the lifetime battles with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury...and the parents, siblings, spouses, and children who faithfully package and ship anything that will make a deployment easier...

I do not want to believe that our troops and their families were used as a bargaining chip when all else failed.

Because that is pathetic, disturbing, and repulsive.

In hindsight though, how else do you explain the 11th hour deal followed by the jubilant swagger of those who reinstated payday for our troops? They are our nation's heroes!

Except...that they're not. Our nation's heroes lie in the neat rows of Arlington Cemetery...or had to learn to walk again with limbs made of titanium...or will forever be marked by images and events that are too awful for us to imagine. If the politicians and the media conspired to draw the American people into a soap opera of deadlines and dollars, then to you I say SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! 

I want to believe with every ounce of my starred and striped heart that that's not the case. Although it's hard to argue with history and how it tends to repeat itself.

Regardless, DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service) reports on its website today that we will all be paid on time and in full on 15 April. Whether that's a victory for Washington or our warriors, only time will tell. It is certainly a sigh of relief.

Should our leaders and lawmakers forget what a perilous game of chess it is that they're playing, they need only to look at this photo I took during the Friday awards ceremony at The Citadel last fall. They are the backbone of this country and they don't look anything like bishops or pawns.


  1. Well, I guess I'm much more cynical than you are. I definitely believe that we've been used as pawns, and that we have been since WW II. Both sides wanted to blame the other for the mess they created, and then both sides wanted to claim "victory" for saving the day. They all just make me sick to my stomach.

    Big business and special interest groups have turned our government officials into whores.

    All I know is that I spent two of the most stressful days in a long while, worrying about something that I shouldn't have had to worry about because of these jerks! And that is not going to be forgotten when the 15th passes.

    At least we did get to go to Venice and that almost makes up for it. Almost.

  2. I think that the media makes things a lot more tragic than they need to be, certainly, but I have no faith in our elected officials...not one ounce. If we could trust them, you wouldn't have had to wait till 11:55 PM, 5 minutes before a shut-down, to find out your husband is getting paid for work he's already done and has continued to do. They are no heroes. It's like me wanting to get a pat on the back for changing my baby's shitty diaper. Sure, it stinks, but it's my JOB as a MOTHER. to do it. It's their JOBS as our elected officials to DO THEIR JOB. It really burns me up.

  3. I'm with Jeannie...I'm much more cynical that you. Because I think very few politicians become politicians to make a difference and carry out the visions of our forefathers. I think most do it for the power and the money. Sadly.

    We all just have to make sure they know that this is all unacceptable to us and if they don't change they will be replaced.

  4. I don't know of its because I'm an "outsider", but I just don't know how this could have gotten so close...
    Regardless, I am so happy that it is resolved and gives you one less thing to worry about.

  5. I'm one of those who think they just voted because it would hurt them more in terms of longevity and reputation than for the reason of actually caring about those who would be directly affected by their decisions. If they truly cared and took the time to understand they wouldn't have drawn it out this long and turned it into rep-dem issue.

  6. I'm with Hutch. I swear, the only voted and got something worked out so that THEIR asses would be saved in the "long run."
    I can't even talk about it, it just makes me SO mad and I sound like a lunatic.

  7. I am with Hutch for the most part. But I dont think they did it to necessarily hold troops and their families as pawns. I think they hyped the shutdown up to frighten everybody, except no one seemed to care; except military folks, or folks who know military people.

    I have very few friends in the military or as military spouses. Three to be exact. They were the only 3 (other than myself) even remotely concerned about the shutdown. None of my friends, family or coworkers even seemed to care,infact some were cheering for the shutdown.

    That was until I informed them about the fact that no troops would receive their pay in the event of a shutdown. They all ASSUMED that the military would be exempt from this. I was shocked at how few people were aware of this, especially given that I live in SAN DIEGO!! Hello, Military Town, USA!!! How do they not know?!? Even the local news didnt push that angle too much. They mostly spoke of how families wouldnt be able to visit their national parks on their spring breaks!!! WTF?!?!

    Anynovel, I have lost complete faith in Congress, I dont feel thankful at all that they came to an agreement at the final hour, they didnt do it to save anyones' ass but their own.

    The real non-military heroes in all this were the credit unions that stepped up to the plate and said they would deposit our paychecks in full and ontime so long as we were already signed up for direct deposit with them. Basically they were giving us all NO INTEREST payday loans to get us through the shutdown. So thats who I thank, all those Congress P.O.S's can suck it.

  8. A giant game of chicken. Use whatever is most dear to force someone else to give up what s/he holds dear. I don't believe that they would have done it, but I think from day one they were willing to threaten it and take it up to the last minute - as they did.

    As a nation we must hold our elected officials accountable for everything they do, and not just the things that support our pet projects. Someone has to start looking at society as a whole and quit acting only out of self interest.

    Glad it worked out, but this is not the end of this issue - not, at all.

  9. It's never a waste to rail against something that is unfair and unjust. Whether it was a smokescreen or not, you stepped up to face something that bothered you. Not everyone has the stones to do so. Good for you!

  10. I'm glad things worked out last week. I teach in a school that is overwhelmingly military/federal government families, and folks up here were walking on eggshells.

  11. This whole situation has made me crazy! And I keep thinking we'll be going down this road again in the next days. I just don't get how a bill allowing this never to happen to our troops again can be called a "distraction"...makes me blood boil that our troops are being used as pawns for politics. ERRRRRRRRR!

  12. There really aren't any words to express how disgusting the whole thing is.
    And what makes me angriest is that, by the time the next election rolls around, and we have a chance to vote out of office the people who would even consider holding our military hostage like that... most voters will have completely forgotten that it ever happened.

  13. I don't know if you heard Representative Jeb Hensarling on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday morning, but this is what he said: "On the one hand, this is the single largest year-to-year cut in the federal budget, frankly in the history of America in absolute terms… probably for that we all deserve medals, the entire Congress."

    REALLY??? When you used the term "jubilant swagger," I think you hit the nail right on the head. I probably would have gone for my favorite swear words, but you're much more eloquent!

  14. I thought it was all just political posturing. I wish we could kick every single one of them out and start all over again.

  15. You should send this letter to the wall street journal as an opinion piece. Here is the email address to send it to - It says to include the writers city and state. They are still talking about the near miss of a shut down so it may get published if you sends it quickly. It's an awesome letter and would really benefit others around the country to read it!!! Keep on posting

  16. Oh Girl I don't know what to say. I really don't.

    So I fall back on my regular


    hugs to you.

    that is all


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