Those of you who read regularly know that this past weekend my life as a mother of two sets of twins, Army wife, and blogger were featured in the Anchorage Daily News. It was an incredibly flattering article that was well received in our community. The reporter warned me before she wrote it not to read the comments on ADN.com because people are mean.
I read them anyway. She was right, people are mean. Not all of them, but a couple. I can handle mean. What I can’t handle is people spewing ridiculous misguided information in a public forum. There were two comments (both have since been removed by the newspaper) that bothered me. I decided not to respond on the paper’s forum, because I have a blog where I can say whatever I want.
The first comment got taken down before I copied it, but it said something along the lines of, “the taxpayers pay your husband for being in the Army so you don’t deserve any other gratitude.” This is the second comment:
“Get a clue, there are a lot of other things out there. As a military wife she gets housing, health care, cheap food. Bring this is to a stop it already. If you did not want this life, get out. I raised my child on my own without state or any help for all my life. My child is almost out of school. If you can’t handle your kids, stop having them and stop expecting the public to support you. Poor you, you knew what you what you were getting into. P.S. I am a military wife. Your husband signed up to fight for his country and kill people and take the chance of getting killed. He knew it, you knew it. You as well as your husband signed up for this and the public is supporting you. While I support the military, stop the BS.”
There’s a lot going on in that statement. Let me explain a few things to you. For starters, as a military wife I don’t “get” anything. My husband earns it. We do not “get” housing. If we live on base our base allowance for housing goes to the housing company to pay our rent. If we live off base, which is not always a choice, the housing allowance goes to us to offset the cost of housing. Without that allowance, we would not make enough money to afford to live, that’s how it works. Our housing allowance only covers our mortgage, not any of the utilities.
We also do not “get” healthcare. My husband earns a health benefit. Currently we choose the option that allows us to use on base healthcare. We don’t have deductibles or co-pays for most services. Sometimes we have to wait a very long time to get an appointment. We have to jump through lots of hoops to see a specialist. We usually have no real say in what doctor sees us or our children. I’m not complaining, we’ve always had very good doctors. But, it’s not free. Service members earn that benefit.
Cheap food is just nonsense. The commissary may be slightly cheaper than a regular grocery store. But there are no rewards schemes, few generic brands, and usually lower quality produce and meat. Here in Alaska milk is a full dollar more at the commissary than at the regular grocery store. Since I have a large family that drinks a lot of milk, I make the extra stop to buy it off base. However, if you think the food is still cheap I’ll remind you, it’s a benefit my husband earns.
None of it is free. Military personnel earn it. They earn it fighting a war that the vast majority of this country is either incapable of or chooses not to fight. They earn it being paid far less than their sacrifice is worth.
As for your comment about not being able to handle my children, you’ve obviously not read this blog, or the article on which you commented. I love them and I can handle them. Even when I have to do it by myself while my husband is off earning his pay.
I have always said that we knew what we signed up for when he joined the Army. I don’t complain about that, I’m certain I never have. But I take offense to your saying my husband signed up to kill people and take the chance of getting killed. That’s not true. He signed up because he was called to serve our country. For the greater good. He does not want to kill anyone, but if he has to make a choice he has been trained to do what is best for his comrades and this country.
According to the Pew Research Center less than half of one percent of Americans have served in the Armed Forces in the last 10 years.
Less than one percent.
The reason Military families look to the civilian world for support is that we are carrying a huge burden for the rest of you. Less than one percent of families have to send their Daddies, husbands, sons, daughters, Mommies, and wives off to war. Less than one percent have to sit at home wondering why they haven’t heard from their loved one in three days, hoping they get a call or an email from them instead of a knock at the door. Less than one percent worry that the person who returns home from war won’t be the same person who left. Worried that he’ll be broken either in body or spirit to the point of no return. Less than one percent have to hear their children weep at night because they’re so lonely for the sound of their Daddies voice that they think if they cry loud enough he might hear them and come home.
Less than one percent.
The other 99% of American citizens get to stay home. The “get” to do that. The only cost is taxes, which we pay too.
So yes, we do appreciate support from the civilian community. A word of thanks is often enough. We don’t expect a lot. But at the very least, if you can’t say something supportive and informed keep your mouth shut.