Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Government Shutdown Needs to END! Denying Surviving Families Death Benefits!!!

OK, now I'm MAD!!!  There are very few days that you will see me post a narrative like this, but I've finally had enough and have to say my piece.  For those that know me, know I am a very positive person, one who is usually a people pleaser and a giver.  I write a very fun blog that shares many recipes, crafts and tips that I find that I feel others may benefit from too.  Those that don't know me need to know I never share my beliefs in a political realm, nor will I today, but I have to share that I am DONE.  

As a military spouse of more than 21 years, I truly feel I have the right to share my experiences with you today on why I truly am over the top with the government shutdown and why I feel no matter which party you support or represent this should end.  That's what my Soldier fights for right?  Freedom of Speech?!  

In the last 5 years, we have been threatened with a government shutdown every year.  As a military spouse I know this and pay attention to this, wondering how it will affect my family.  Every year there have been small things that have changed, and we as a family have adapted and driven on.  Within the last few weeks, we have watched as our government hit the low and has shutdown.  Many things have affected our military life, but as a military Family you learn very early on, it isn't worth complaining over, just learn to adapt and overcome.  When I was worried about whether we would get paid or not, a little research yielded the good news that great organizations in the US like our bank USAA was set and ready to yield loans to service members if they had to go without pay so that we could survive.  Thank goodness it hasn't yet come to that.  Our commissary's had to shutdown for a few days due to civilian employees being furloughed, again great US companies like Sam's Club has offered free membership to all ID card military members during the shutdown.  So again we can make it work.  Not to say that we don't worry and fret over the state of our government, we do!  Each and every day.  But what I am saying is MOST things are road blocks that we can work around.  I have many friends who are military spouses who work full time as government civilian employees.  Most of them recognize the shutdown for what it is, and know that this season will be tough on their pocket books, but find ways to drive on.  Has it been easy? No!  But doable? Mostly!

I tell you all this, because today, I finally heard on the news (first article I read from KCENTV.com) the straw that "broke the camels back" so to speak.  Today it was announced that the Soldier's Families (who lost their Soldier this weekend in Afghanistan) will not be able to receive their death benefits during the government shutdown. (Another good article by DefenseOne) What does that mean?  Well that means that our military normally pays the surviving Family of a Hero $100,000 within 36 hours to help that Family cover the cost of that Hero's funeral, travel cost to take that Family to meet their Soldiers remains as it arrives back on US soil, and immediate survivor living expenses.  (USAToday Article)

In these last 5 years my Soldier has been in Afghanistan twice, both for over year long tours.  During those tours our Brigade has lost Soldiers.  That is never easy.  I've seen first hand how within those first 24-36 hours during the immediate grieving process how the military handles it makes all the difference in the world for that Family and their memories.  Think about it.  How can we NOT be supporting Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice?  (I'm sure that Hero who left us never dreamed that his/her Family wouldn't be taken care of!!!)  The Family of the Hero goes through so much in the first few hours of notification.  One of the first and strongest stages of grief is ANGER.  In a normal case, those that assist those Families try hard to work through so many of those emotions with them when things are going right.  Now let's bring in a government shutdown and have to be the Soldier on Rear Detachment that has to walk into that Survivor's house and tell that Family I'm sorry, we can't help you travel to see your Soldier arrive in the US.  And we can't pay your death benefits until our government shutdown is over.  That Family is left now on their own devices to try and figure it out.  Who do you think they are going to be ANGRY at???  Hmmm!  

Ahhh....OK...I'm a little mad.  It's just not fair.  I put myself in those shoes and just think, if I lost my Soldier tomorrow, I just don't know what I would do....what a mess to throw at a Family in an already horrible time.  It's not right and it's not fair.  We don't pay Soldiers a lot.  We take them away from their Families for long extended periods of time for deployments, trainings and more.  We place them in harms way, so we as Americans can live the way we do.  I get it, they volunteer to be a Soldier, but they didn't volunteer to have their Family not taken care of in their most crucial time of need.  It's been a long 12 years of deployment after deployment and I can speak for the Army (my husband's branch) they have strived to get it right during this crucial time.  

Our Army has put things in place thanks to some amazing surviving spouses who spoke up after losing their Soldiers and shared how their experiences could have gone better.  And the Army offers ever family the option to take on a volunteer Care Team.  Care Teams are trained volunteers whose sole job is to go into the home of a survivor (who wants a Care Team) within the first 24 hours to help keep that household running until extended Family can arrive to help the spouse/Family in their time of need.  Sometimes that means playing with the children, cooking meals, answers the door, taking phone calls, or just being there so the spouse/Family member isn't alone.  It's one of the most rewarding and most difficult volunteer jobs I have ever seen. The people I know who have done it, have always done it without recognition, and without a second thought.  And most all walk away feeling drained, but completely fulfilled that they were able to give something to someone in need.  

My desire in writing this today is to maybe give a picture to those that don't know much about our military lifestyle and who maybe aren't sure what the government shutdown is affecting, a small glimpse into a MAJOR mistake that we as AMERICAN's are currently making, by NOT taking care of our own!!!  

Please I beg of you, reach out to your state congressman, and let them know this needs to end.  If you don't know what to say, please feel free to cut and paste this blog post as a note to why you are writing them, just please include my name as the author.  We can NOT let these Families suffer!!!

Some include their email, some even list their twitter handles.  Here is a tweet I sent to one of our FL Congressman.  Feel free to ReTweet!!!

So it isn't too hard to contact them.  Please do your part and reach out.  Military Families of our Soldiers deserve better!
UPDATE as of 3:15pm EST - Stars & Stripes posted that Congress moves to reinstate military death benefits.  Read more HERE!  
Keep reaching out to them, it's not passed yet...just a motion!!! Hopefully this will all be resolved soon for all reasons!

UPDATE as of 8am EST Oct 10, 2013 - Fisher House has stepped forward to pay death benefits to all survivors until government shutdown has ended.   Great organization and everything that they do for Military Soldiers and their Families is amazing.  I'm touched and so thankful for them....still dismayed with those in charge.  If you would like to say Thank You to Fisher House, best way to do so is to send them a donation....even a $1 can help...it adds up!


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  1. Pam Have you put this on Pinterest,I have boards .Maybe I put iton there ,,What would you like do Yes, No,

    1. Sure....pinning now. But feel free to pin yourself!
      Pam :)