My wife’s father Jim passed away about a month ago. Over the last few years, he had long-term health issues and several near-deaths or even instances of resuscitation after heart failure. So this wasn’t exactly a surprise.
A few days ago we had a long conversation with my mother-in-law where she filled us in on some background stories from Jim’s life. Naturally this included some details about other aspects of their family’s history. Jim served in the Navy during Viet Nam (never was sent there), and we learned that his dad served too, during WW II. My wife wondered if her maternal grandfather ever served, and we learned he was for whatever reason medically disqualified from serving, even though the military was accepting men well above the age we currently allow to enlist.
Then my mother-in-law talked about the ways “Grandad” served as a civilian. He raised and kept rabbits, since “all the meat was sent over for the troops, of course.” This led to some other discussions about how everyone pitched in, how so many communities and civilians aided the war effort.
On an unrelated note, we visited my parents for Christmas, and received a surprise present in the form of coins collected over several decades. My 12-year-old loves coins (and rocks), and was fascinated to see so much history. In one book of pennies, we found the 1943 steel penny, a spot of silver in a sea of copper. Naturally my son was curious why. So we talked again about the war effort and the ways that the nation adjusted and adapted in order to ensure that our fighting men had what they needed in order to carry out their missions.
Those moments stuck out in my mind. In the last month, I’ve also witnessed lots of discussion about the Ryan-Murray budget deal, and how it saves $6B over 10 years by changing the retirement deal for many recent military retirees and currently serving members of our Armed Forces – myself included. Some have pointed out that there’s no legal guarantee stipulating exactly how military retirement will work for an individual. There’s no signed contract from the military promising a particular deal forever. But there are multiple briefings and counseling sessions along a 20+ year career explaining the way retirement pay works, and the hundreds of thousands of actively serving military members make their decisions and base their lives around expectations based on what they’re briefed.
“Oh, that budget thing is old news. It’s already been voted on and passed. You’re a month behind, Dave.”
Yeah, I’m still thinking about it, though. It’s funny. Maybe that’s because I’ll be directly impacted by it for about the next 20-24 years, and indirectly impacted for the rest of my life. If you found out you’d be taxed $80K over the next 20 years, you might be a little up in arms over it too. And that’s just the raw numbers, let alone the sense of breach of trust.
Speaking of breach of trust, here are the folks in the Senate who voted yes. And this link shows the names of Representatives and how they voted.
There’s an article on Business Insider talking about the long-term costs of these short-term budgetary gains, and it’s the best piece on this subject that I’ve read thus far. It’s long, but worth a read, because this issue matters.
Think of this as sort of a re-blog. It seems a good way to start off 2014 on this site.
That the nation’s leaders can so blatantly and blithely alter the deal without addressing more significant budgetary issues is disconcerting to say the least. Perhaps some of that stems from how such a small portion of the U.S. population has any real first-hand experience sacrificing or adjusting their lives around the costs of our current 12 year war effort or any other recent military actions.
Instead, we get comedians joking about how Spaghetti-Os are the only food Pearl Harbor survivors can eat. Because, get it? Haha, they’re OLD. Ha. Ha.
What do you think? Are we doing right by those who served? Do we risk losing the faith of those who would volunteer in the future? Or are we gambling that those who were willing to sacrifice so much thus far can suck it up a bit more, while our country (and its populace) continues living beyond its means? Let me know your thoughts in a comment. Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear from you.
Happy New Year.