November 27, 2004

The SHAME of our Country

Bill Faith over at Small Town Veteran has a post linked to a story that emphasizes something that in our fervor to support the troops that we don't seem to talk about; what happens to their families when one of our brave men makes the ultimate sacrifice.

We all seem to assume something that couldn't be farther than the shameful truth. We think that the military will naturally assist those left behind.

In fact, unless they meet an arcane and red-tape ridden set of qualifications, the only thing the family gets is a one time death benefit of $12,000. They may receive $250,000 IF the service member opted to pay the premiums for the insurance from his already meager pay. Think how far that amount of money would go when raising a family on your own for the next eighteeen years,and you can see that we do not seem to return the soldiers sacrifice with anything but yellow ribbons and a hollow thanks.

If they are in base housing, they will be asked to vacate within a month of the service members death. The health coverage at military/veteran facilities only last for three years after the service members death. SOME long time service members do receive SBC(survivor benefit compensation) amounts to 55% of a service members RETIREMENT pay, which in the best case is 75% of his last highest permanent pay grade.

Remember that in many cases,especially in the enlisted ranks, a soldiers FULL rate of pay qualifies his family for food stamps and ADC payments in the civilian world! Now imagine trying to live on 55% of 75% of that same pay, and realize that only a fraction of servicemen's families even qualify for that, and we have what can only be termed a national scandal on our hands.

We as a nation owe it to the Briannas that are left behind.

I join my voice to Bill Faiths:

... GOD DAMN IT TO HELL, PEOPLE! Is this what our Warriors deserve? Is this how we reward an all volunteer force? Don't the men and women dying for our country deserve to at least know their loved ones will be taken care of? Who's going to help me make some noise about this? Here's the least that I'll be happy with, and I don't care which side of the aisle it come from. Hell, I could end up voting for a Democrat next time if they do what's right here. I want full pay and benefits continued to surviving spouses for life, or to their surviving children until they're 21, whichever comes last...

Like Bill, I DON'T CARE WHICHside of the aisle this comes from; the only important thing is that IT GETS DONE! Expensive? you bet!, but if we can give a Congressman/Senator a full retirement benefit for life after only two/six years service in the congress, we can damn sure provide for the families of those who gave the last full measure in the service of this country.

Maybe it's time we revisit the compensation we give our Solons in government....put THEM through the same restrictions, qualifications and red tape we put a fallen servicemembers family through in the worst time of their lives, maybe it will serve to wake some of them up.


Posted by Delftsman3 at November 27, 2004 09:54 AM

Thanks. I haven't figured out just how to go at pushing this yet, but I'm going to find a way. I'm open to suggestions. One thing I'll be doing is posting a draft "Brianna Bill" on my blog sometime soon. If I can figure out how to get enough people behind it maybe we can get someone to push it through Congress. I'll keep you posted.

Posted by: Bill Faith at November 28, 2004 12:08 AM

To whom it may concern:

My husband joined the National Guard when he was 17 and began active duty when he was 21. We as a family decided that being active duty would better support our family. He was a coal miner and the work is dangerous and unpredictable. We went in the army knowing that we would stay til retirement. We did not know that retirement would come so early, at age 29. We were at our third duty station when he was injured and medically retired. He passed away 7 days later. Our son only knows his father as a soldier. And to a child it does not matter where his father lost his life. As a family we served our country adn that service should not be lessened by the fact my husband died here.

Many honorable men and women serve our country without being deployed to a war zone.

I am a widow of a soldier. My husband was injured in the line of duty and passed away due to the injuries. My husband was stateside when his injuries occurred and was determined to be in the line of duty. I am very grateful for the support and benefits I have received since the loss of my husband.

I am writing to express my opinion about the possibility of increase in the survivor benefits. I understand that they will only apply to those soldiers that have lost their lives in a war zone. I find it hard to believe that anyone would suggest that one soldier’s life is more valuable than another. Service during combat is not the only honorable service to our country.

In times of conflict many Americans can be seen flying flags, writing songs and giving speeches about patriotism and the love for our military and their sacrifices. As a military family, we fly our flags and service ribbons all day, everyday. We know that not only in times of conflict but every day our military men and women give 100%. The soldier as well as the family gives a lot to this country, so the soldier is prepared for each mission. I do not see how my loss is any less significant than any other family. It is not only my loss but a loss of the Army as a whole.

The soldiers train, attend school, teach others to be skilled soldiers, provide peace keeping missions, fight the war on drugs, natural disaster relief and perform their duty. These are things that are done everyday by every soldier. To distinguish between a soldiers whose life is more valuable than another’s I cannot imagine how that can be done.

We should show appreciation for all soldiers and their families. It does not take war for a soldier to be doing their duty or for a family to be important. We stand by our soldiers when they leave for a tour in Korea, peace keeping in Kosovo, fighting the war on drugs in the Bahamas or South America, and travel for training missions. Even when they are going to the range or to jump from a plane, we as families stand by our soldier. All of these things are necessary for a prepared military.

The next time you are around a child ask them to define “going to the field.” Most children will reply a place on a farm, or a place to play football, soccer, or baseball. Ask a military child they will say where mom or dad works. Just because all of our soldiers are not in combat zones does not mean they do not contribute or play a valuable roll in the Army as a whole.

Being a military family is not easy; if it was easy everyone would do it. We do not complain about the stresses of deployments or the long periods of time away from family. This is what we do. I love what we did, where we did it, when and how our lives revolved around something so great. As families we give a lot of ourselves, not just the service member but the entire family. What my family has offered to our country is no less than any other family.

Army of One. That is the motto of the Army. The Army functions as a unit, as one. Then how can it be that one part is more valuable than another.

Each individual that enters the Army sign the same contract and are expected to perform their duty throughout their enlistment. They all receive the same training and are prepared in the same way to do their job. When a man or woman enlists they know up front that they might give their life in the line of duty. With that said, how can a distinction be made that one life is more valuable than another?

Losing my husband has been a hard road to walk but I will continue down this road with my son. The hardships that my son and I experience are as real as any other family. Please think about what I have said and consider that our loss is not any less than that of any other military family. The soldiers’ duty where ever it takes them is all part of the big picture and everyone is equally important.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Jackie and Spencer Ferguson

Posted by: JAckie Ferguson at July 1, 2005 09:03 PM
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