"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Walking the Line

I am going to walk a very fine line here. I have said - repeatedly - that I have no intention of talking politics with this blog. None. For that reason, I have tried to avoid my computer. I have tried very hard to ignore this. But I have read so much that I can't see straight and C and I have been having serious discussions that I never thought we would have two months shy of his fourteen year mark.

This war is very much the war of my generation. It spans a few generations really because it has lasted so long but this war has gone on for my entire adult life - and some before that. When this war began I was getting my driver's license. (Yes, I just gave away my age). Amazingly my generation is either unfazed by this war or is in the thick of it. We are either untouched or consumed - either because we have spent the last ten years deploying in the worst of conditions or loving someone who has.

I would never for a moment argue that my generation is the "greatest generation". I have met men and women of that generation. They truly, truly are the greatest of all generations. But the generations of this war have endured a decade of fighting. A decade - with no real defined end in sight. They have endured marriages crumbling from the weight, missing births, missing their children's childhoods, missing funerals, losing friends in traumatic circumstances. And not just once, but over and over again.

That means somethings. That is worth something. Whether you agree with the war or not - they have endured the battle because they were asked to. They said " I will" when ninety-nine percent said "I won't."

My husband joined when he was seventeen years old. He went to basic the summer between his junior and senior years of high school. He will be in for fourteen years in November. Fourteen years. Nearly half of his life.

We always thought that he would be in it for the long haul. We are committed to this life. We believe in service. We have always believed that the sacrifice is worth it. 

We never thought we would question it.

In the very near future, depending on what happens in Washington, the military will be facing a drastic change in their retirement benefits. No, not drastic. Catastrophic. And no matter what side you are on, it isn't right.

One percent of this nation serves in the military. One freakin' percent. (Forgive me). And of that one percent, roughly seventeen percent of them make it to full retirement. That is miniscule. There is a reason that so few make it to the end. Because it is hard, because it wears on a family, because there is only so much that a person can take. And to take that motivation from them that they deserve is disgusting.

I know that the money has to come from "somewhere". That "someone" has to sacrifice. That "someone" needs to "take a hit" but not these men and women. No. Not them. They have sacrificed. They do take the hits. They freaking take rounds! They have endured the hardest of circumstances.

They deserve to be compensated the best that they can be. No nation can adequately compensate those who serve it. It just isn't possible. They don't do it for money. Maybe that is why it is so easy to take advantage of them - because they are honorable men and women who serve - and rarely speak out. 

I am not going to go into how much is being proposed to take from each individual soldier's retirement. I don't think I could do that without setting the computer on fire. But it is significant enough to have us - and others - debating if staying in and serving is worth it. And it isn't just about the money - it is about the insult. It's a spit in the eye. It's a direct hit to the knees. To take men and women who haven't just served for such a long time - but have been in combat for a good majority of it - and to tell them that they are an expendable entitlement.

I can't stomach it.

So we are walking a fine line, weighing unimaginable options, thinking about things that we never thought we would think about.  None of this is something men and women currently deployed need to think about. None of them need to feel less valued.

To take more from those who give all is wrong. No matter how you slice it.

Yes, people need to give. Yes, people need to sacrifice. Yes, there needs to be change. But these men and women do and have and will and to take what they deserve because it is an easy cut ... 

It can't be more wrong.


  1. My husband is still over there, and we've been having these discussions...over skype...sandwiched between figuring out how to do a Red Cross message when I go into labor (since he won't be there) and filling him in on what he's missed with our daughter in the last 24 hours.

    It makes me sick. Absolutely sick. And I couldn't have said it better than you.

  2. Well said. Our elected officials earn their retirement in an incredibly fast pace. I think there should go first and then pass the buck down...after all they are suppose to the leaders of our fine country. If you were to throw their future benefits into the mixing bowl...the argument about slicing and dicing retirement benefits would be a mute point. Army proud!!!

  3. We've been having the same discussion here, too. We based our decision to make this a career on the retirement. Not only is it a slap in the face, but it seems to be a breach of the contract we entered into. Maybe not explicitly, but certainly implicitly.

  4. I agree. My fiance and I are having a hard time deciding if he wants to re-enlist or not. We have to decide what is best for our family because someone else thinks they already know what is best. It is a lot to think about in our early 20's...I'm sure "retirement problems" aren't normal conversation topics for an engaged girl still in college.

  5. Yep...we have 13 years active in...not sure where we will be after this round of commitment is up. It makes NO sense.

  6. I am in Afghanistan right now. I have one year left to 20. I even got out and came back as an officer Dec 2001. I have a large family and worry every day that I will be able to provide for them if ever I decide to end my career/service in the military and become a civilian. I cannot speak out against elected officials, but every spouse reading this needs to sign a petition screaming a shout of discust to those who govern our nation. You are our voice and need you to fight for us as we fight for all. God bless you all for putting up with us being gone and putting you in hardship. We thank you for you love and devotion; your service to us.

    A servant of our Great Nation.

    1. I don't know why I didn't reply to this early on. I am so sorry for my delay. I shared your response with my soldier because of how much it meant to me.

      Thank you for taking a moment for sharing your thoughts. Stay safe over there (or the next time you go). Thank you for giving so many years - so much of your LIFE. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  7. Wow - your post was amazing!! And so well written. Every paragraph I was screaming 'YES!!!' We did our calculations, and if my husband stays in his full 20, we will get THREE percent of his base pay when he retires. THREE. He would have to go out, mid-forties, and literally find a new career. And that's just not fair. People who sacrifice 20 years of their life deserve to be repaid that time with their families not having to worry about a paycheck after they retire. And that's what we banked on when he joined. Doing our time and service now to be rewarded later. I agree that most men and women serving are doing it because they love their country and so usually won't speak out, but those of us married to them know how they feel. Devastated. Hurt. Used-and-Abused. Disrespected. I think the anonymous military member who posted above says it all. Let's all pray this doesn't pass. And fight it if we can.

  8. Girl, my husband and I are in the exact same boat. If they change his retirement benefits he's done. We are of the mind that it's not just his retirement, it's ours. Mine, his, our children. . . Once a soldier is in for so long, the sacrifices are not just that one soldier's anymore. The sacrifices belong to his wife and children as well. What Washington is proposing is stealing from not only the soldiers, but their families as well. It's beyond shameful and it sickens me too.

  9. Your post is spot-on. I do think the agenda with the current "leadership" is to decimate the military, destroying incentives to keep the most committed, experienced and honorable service members. We've got to elect honest candidates in every election, in every state.


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