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.

Maybe vote, not as Republican or Democrat, but as Anti-Incumbent.
Maybe vote, not as Republican or Democrat, but as Anti-Incumbent.

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.

3 thoughts on “Sacrifice”

  1. I agree we are breaking a promise to those who have sacrificed the most. Retirement promises have been broken over and over. Before the current PC days, we used to call it “Indian Giver”. That seems to be the state of our government.

  2. Promises are continually broken with each successive generation of volunteers. Thank you for writing this piece. After 14.5 years in the military, 4 deployments, 1.5 years of outside travel, we were just notified that my husband qualified for either a forced separation or and mandatory early retirement. Granted there is a good possibility he may not get it yet, but it is just the point. He is a fine officer. I joined because of him and how much the army meant to him. Over the years I have been the voice of reason in our relationship… your family and Heavenly Father are first not the job, which as you know is not the mindset.. It has been a hard battle but one worth the exercise. I love the life we have created but it angers me that we have sacrificed so much and so many people do not have a clue as to our sacrifice. My husband was in the 507th.. the Xo and that was our introduction to the military. It has been wild ride. As much as I treasure my liberty, our country could use conscription. It would change attitudes.
    But hey.. what do i know.. I am just a woman!

    1. Yeah, a little conscription in the form of a mandatory 2 year stint sometimes seems tempting.
      At the very least, we could up the percentage of Congress that has actually served, since they’re making decisions about how to manage the military.
      Thanks to your husband AND to you as well for the service you’ve given to our country.

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