I am at Fort Bragg for a while, visiting my son and my three grandchildren and helping out. It has been so long since we were together (more than a year and a half) that it is a real treat to be here, but after a week I am realizing how much I miss Oregon and the ease with which I could find solitude and a quiet place to write. Here on base there is nothing like that and I am pretty much a captive on base as I cannot leave by myself without a lengthy and iffy process to get back onto base. Without a DOD issued identification I cannot buy anything on base and yet to get off base is just not worth the bother.
While my son and his fellow soldiers and their families are less restricted, they live with impediments and rules that many of us are only beginning to imagine as we learn of the secret surveillance and data mining that has been implemented on the citizens at large.
A soldier and his family live with house inspections to ensure that their housekeeping is up to Army standards, under penalties as severe as to cause loss of rank, and even of their careers.
They live in houses that expose their children to flaking lead paint and steep, narrow staircases.
They live in housing that looks the same as their neighbors and the same as the housing for miles and miles around them.
They and their families are subject to moving at a moment’s notice.
Their families are routinely split asunder as mother or father is sent to some far side of the world to a situation from which they may not return.
They are told what to wear and how to wear it.
They make less money than equivalent positions in the civilian world.
There is less opportunity without a long commute for the spouses of soldiers who choose to help with a second income.
Being involved in a traffic accident or incident can negatively impact their treatment at their jobs, and a little financial difficulty can result in demotion and loss of security clearance.
Every aspect of their lives can be and is intruded upon.
And they volunteer for this!!
They re-up and make this their career.
Unless they are a high-ranking officer, when they retire from the army, they can live comfortably only by working to supplement a barely adequate retirement as they re-assimilate into a society that is increasingly separated from the world that they have grown accustomed to.
They live with a growing segment of our population who do not appreciate, understand, or support them in their sacrifice.
I mention all of this because as I stay here and see the sacrifices that each and every soldier and each of their family members make in order to be available for a job that most would not be willing to do.
I see more and more calls to cut the defense budget.
In today’s political environment, the party in charge uses our soldiers and our schoolchildren as pawns, making cuts where it will do the most damage or be the most painful in order to extort more money from the hard-hit taxpayer.
With our schools they cut the programs while wringing more money for administrators and the unions.
With our soldiers the politicians protect their bloated budgets on the backs of those least able to absorb the impact but with the least amount of voice to protest.
It is high time that we forced those in office to respect the commitment of their protectors and make the same sort commitment to them.
We give subsidies to huge farming conglomerates who routinely poison our food supply due to shoddy practices and non-existent oversight.
We subsidize huge drug companies as they pour out medications that drain our budgets and end up killing people.
We subsidize foreign countries that hate us and kill our citizens and our soldiers.
We subsidize social programs that grow out of control and support people who don’t want to support themselves while those in real need go hungry or without shelter.
We subsidize huge insurance companies through the Affordable (what a joke) healthcare act, allowing them a captive market and ever increasing revenue through wink/nod oversight.
The people who give up their privacy, give up their right to move about freely, give up their right to be heard, give up their right to a minimum wage (my son is paid for an eight hour day from 8 to 5 but he starts with PT (physical training) at 6 and sometimes works till 6 and later.
On his last three day weekend he had staff duty (24 hour shift) on his Friday off and then spent the next day recovering and resting. We enjoyed Father’s Day together, but it was in essence a one day weekend.
It is high time we put those who devalue or denigrate the contribution of our military personnel in their places.
Appreciate our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen. Make sure that your representatives in congress and the white house do as well. Let’s make the career politicians do right by those that protect them or give them all the boot. It starts at the top, Mr. President!!!