This morning I shared this article from Huffington Post contributor David Wood that I saw on Twitter with this headline:
” After Decade Of Lavish Benefits, Military Personnel Fear Cuts: WASHINGTON — For more than a decade, Congres… huff.to/TYIw7C ”
— TOP in Politics (@TOPinPolitics) January 30, 2013
Being who I am I can’t stand when people read into things to much so I want to assume that using the word “lavish” was just bad phrasing. After reading Mr. Woods bio I learned he has been a military correspondent for 35 years so the common sense in me wants to assume that he doesn’t think we live so lavish.
For all I know the phrasing of that tweet could have been the bad choice of wording by a Huffington Post social media account manager.
That being said I couldn’t help but think that the use of the word lavish opens up a bigger conversation about how some of the civilian world believes military families live.
So because I am more of a conversational toned blogger and not a I wish I could write some fancy big worded article with an amazing point writer, I am going to just do this blog post the Army Wife 101 way and tell civilians who may think we live lavishly 6 reason we don’t.
1. That Extra Combat Pay
When my husband was deployed I had many friends who had heard about “all” that extra money we received when the men and women are gone. The truth is that extra money totals less then $600 extra a month for most and when you factor in the cost of care packages, postage, internet costs (yes they pay for internet in their rooms overseas) and phone cards , you can pretty much kiss that money good bye.
2. Those Lavish Tricare Medical Benefits
Don’t get me wrong when I almost was killed in a horrific car accident in August of 2011 there was nothing more comforting then just whipping out my ID card and handing it to the hospital billing rep and not worrying about my care. There is also nothing more comforting then knowing anytime I wanted to take my kids to the doctor on post I could as long as I could get an appointment. All that aside there is something very discomforting about feeling like no matter what is wrong with you , that you are going to be given a prescription for Ibuprofen.
I have had some really great doctors but several times I couldn’t help ( my soldier too) think that the person practicing on me was actually experimenting on me. I will never forget being sick and having the physician’s assistant being really confused on what to give me for this cold I had. Watching her pull out what I assumed was a book that tells you what medicines are safe to take with other medicines wasn’t exactly comforting. Oh and I can’t forget about the pharmacy full of antidepressants I so easily was prescribed without no real digging into what my issue was. And what about the time I had the bone doctor ( yes he was an orthopedist) do my pap and it seemed like he had no clue what he was doing with that speculum. My point was proven when I received a call that I needed my pap redone because I am assuming he didn’t scrape around enough (sorry for being so graphic). Lastly while I am sure their are specific cases where one can sue , military and their families cannot technically sue military doctors. Doesn’t seem so lavish huh?
3. Food Stamps
Back in September I wrote a post entitled “Yes Some Military Families Are On Food Stamps” where I shared some shocking stats about military families who received additional aid for food. A Huffington Post article revealed that over $101 million dollars in food stamps have been redeemed at commissaries.
4. Housing Onpost
I won’t lie I have always been fortunate to live in the most beautiful of military housing. Even though that was the case for me I know way to many families who lived in ancient 1940’s run down housing with mold problems, insect problems and more. Yes we are grateful the housing is paid for but we also don’t have a choice most of the time in what we live in.
5. The Pay
I won’t sit here and say the pay is horrific for the military. We do get housing allowance in addition to base pay and other money depending on the situation. What I will say is my husband’s MOS is a 15N which is an Avionics Mechanic. A Sgt with 12+ years in averages $36k a year base pay. A civilian contractor overseas makes $125k a year doing the same thing. An E-1 with no years n service makes under $1600 a month coming in. Of course you will hear the famous cliche line “If the Army (Uncle Sam) wanted you to have a wife (or family) he would have issued you one”.
The truth is in this economy you have 30+ year old adults joining the military with families already in tow. Gone are the days of just young 18 year old boys joining the military because it was the thing to do. In addition the mere thought that these men and women risk their lives in unimaginable ways is worth more then that extra $575 a month they receive during deployments.
6. The Overall Military Lifestyle
With the military lifestyle comes many positive aspects. We meet friends from all over, we travel to foreign places and so much more.
Yet most people (unless they have served or have a spouse who has) will never know what it is like to deal with long deployments, frequent deployments, missed special moments, fear of the service member not coming back , worrying about your kids frequently changing new schools and constantly have to uproot your life.
Honestly no matter how you phrase it , there is nothing lavish about that!
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