Friday, April 8, 2011

Heroes never shutdown

The Merrium-Webster dictionary defines a hero as a "man admired for his achievements and noble qualities"; "one who shows great courage".

As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel room in southern Mississippi. My husband is here getting ready for yet another deployment, less than a year after returning from his last tour of duty. My 5 month old daughter and I joined him a few days ago, planning to soak up every last moment we have together before he is gone for a still undetermined amount of time.

Today my husband woke up early, pulled on his combat boots and kissed us goodbye. When I look at his face, I see unfailing dedication and love for his family and for his country. Sadly, today I also see stress and fear at what is to come and what we will be facing while he is away.

Everyone is abuzz with news of the possible and likely probable government shutdown and what it would specifically mean for military families. Why should he and so many others have to add to the usual stress of deployment, the stress of not knowing if their wives and children will have enough money to pay the bills and keep food on the table while they are away? They are putting their lives on the line for the very country that has put this stress on them! Instead of being able to focus solely on the mission, they are now distracted by what is going on back at home.

 Has anyone stopped to think of the cold hard realization that if the military actually stops getting paid someone, somewhere is going to be killed in the line of duty while their family is not receiving the paycheck that they have earned! That, to me, is an inexcusable tragedy that should never be something we have to worry about happening.

It's not the fact that we are personally unprepared for this that boggles my mind and angers me. I am confident that we will survive, even if my daughter and I have to go stay with family to ensure that we have running water and electricity because privatized off base military housing fails to provide this to us when they aren't receiving our BAH.

What gets to me is the fact that this entire situation is avoidable. There is absolutely NO reason why those with the power to make the decisions to agree on the budget could not have come to a resolution by now, April 8, 2011. I'm not very into politics but it is my understanding that they have had more than enough time to figure out their differences and come to a compromise.

I don't have any answers in this, and honestly my voice is just one of many who will probably always be overlooked by those in office who make the decisions. We serve a God who is bigger than a government shutdown and I trust that He will provide for us. I do hope that those in office will wake up and look around and see what they are doing to the ones who are fighting for this country and the families who are faithfully waiting for them to return.

In a few days, my husband will board a plane for Afghanistan. He will do it regardless of what is happening with the government shutdown or where our family stands financially in the wake of what is happening. He will do it because he has made a commitment to serve his country. I will soon kiss his face for the last time in a very long time and savor every last moment that his arms are wrapped around me, knowing that he is a man of his word, who stands up for what he believes in. My husband plans to re-enlist once again while overseas, because he believes he is making a difference and saving lives.

He is an American Airman and I am the wife of a true hero. He will never shutdown, even if the government does. 

President Obama and members of Congress:

Please look around at those who are most affected by your inability to create a compromise that forces a government shutdown. 

Have you ever kissed your loved ones goodbye and boarded a plane for a war-torn country, unsure of whether or not you would ever see them again?  Have you ever waited for a phone call that tells you that your loved one is safe, only to hang up and begin waiting for the next -- all while keeping the kids and family running smoothly as though there is nothing to worry about? Have you ever heard the doorbell ring and felt your heart stop, wondering if on the other side were military officials there to tell you that your loved one had paid the ultimate price for your freedom? Have you ever worked a 22 hour day, taken a cold shower, eaten an MRE as your only meal for the day, and waited in line for an hour to call and let your loved ones know you are alive and well -- at least for today?  My husband has. I have. Military members, wives (and husbands and other family members left behind) do every single day.

Please think of those who are fighting for our freedom, who have left their families behind trusting that the pay they are earning will arrive in a timely manner. Think of the mothers who are worried that they will not be able to feed their children, the children who may or may not understand why there is not enough food to go around and who didn't ask to be put in that position.

Perhaps you and those you love are fortunate enough that none of this will affect you, whether it is because you are exempt from having your pay stop during a shutdown or because you simply make enough that missing a paycheck or two doesn't matter. There are so many out there who will be affected and it is not fair to them to suffer for your irresponsibility. At the very least, if a shutdown IS necessary, please give us notice and warning and provide information to help us get through these troubled times instead of continuing to lead us to believe that something will work out in time for us to still get paid our full expected amount.

If you can't come to an agreement about the issues that you are still arguing over after so many months, can you at least agree that during this shutdown no one should lose electricity or have their water shut off because they cannot pay the bill? What about car payments, house payments, and other necessary pieces of our lives? Will you guarantee that my car will not be taken away when I don't pay the bill this month? Will you talk to my mortgage lender or landlord and explain that I need more time to pay? Just what bank do you think will give me and my husband a loan when we are already overextended and as of now have no promise of when we will receive pay next?

When you go home from your office today, I hope that you are able to enjoy your weekend with those you love the most, worry-free. It is my husband's last weekend in this country and instead of being able to enjoy our time eating at his favorite places and driving a few hours to the beach to show our daughter the ocean for the first time, we are going to be cuddled up together coming up with a back up plan for just in case I go home to find that we are without the basic necessities of daily life. Instead of boarding a plane to Afghanistan clinging to fond memories of his last days in the US for a still undetermined amount of time, my husband will board a plane worried about what his wife and daughter are facing while he is away.

I'm sure the issues you are arguing over are important. 

That's why my husband, a member of the US Air Force, does what he does - to give you the right to disagree over those issues.  

Please, if you can't respect each other and the people of the United States of America enough to find a compromise, at least find the respect to give my husband and other military members a paycheck to provide a life for his family.

My husband is a hero and he will never shutdown his efforts. Please don't shutdown yours.

Sincerely and Respectfully,
this military wife