Don't Fear Sequestration, America

Direction

Dear America,

I know you are worried that you are all alone with the sequestration thing. I want you to know that we military folks support you in your hour of need.

That might sound a little off to you. You think that the defense cuts due to sequestration will happen only to the military.

You think that the war is over. You think we spend entirely too much money on fancy-schmancy airplanes we don’t need. Most of all, you think sequestration will not have any effect on you.

Which puzzles me. We took the same Government class in 10th grade, didn’t we?  I know I was daydreaming over John Jansens at the time, but I am pretty sure that it was President Eisenhower who warned us about the military-industrial complex.

That sounded scary to me. It sounded like the military and military contractors would secretly become some kind of junta. I worried those crazy generals would take over the country, forcing us all to keep our lawns very, very short.

That isn’t the way it happened, exactly. Even a former five-star general like Eisenhower couldn’t predict what would happen when Americans were “compelled to create a permanent armament industry of vast proportions.”

Back then, Eisenhower was concerned that 3.5 million men and women were directly engaged in the defense industry. According to a report on CNN, about 3.1 million military members and civilians are presently employed by the Department of Defense. Then another 3 million people are either employed by the defense industry itself (like repairing ships or building weapons) or they work for a local business in a military-influenced community.

So when I think of our new $85 billion in mandatory cuts, I do think military.

But, Darling America, you gotta know that they call it the military-industrial complex because it is complicated. We are all in bed together on this.

When 20 Navy ships won’t be getting scheduled maintenance, I think of the shipyard workers whose kids went to school with mine. Where is their mortgage payment going to come from?

When the Pentagon forces 800,000 civilian employees to take unpaid leave, I worry about your car payments. And the guys who fix your cars. And the credit union lady who administers your car loans.

When the Navy says it is going to save $1.4 billion on the construction of a new destroyer or the Army says it doesn’t need certain tanks, I’m thinking of your uncle, the engineer. I’m sure he can get a job somewhere else at his age. Or not. Maybe you have an extra couch the guy could sleep on for a month or two? 

And what about those new BRAC cuts they keep talking about? Oh, dear New Orleansians, whatever will we do? 

America, you have to know that sequestration won’t just happen to people in uniform. It will happen all over the country in ways we never see coming. Even though we talk about the 1 percent who serve, you must know that we are all connected. I only worry for us when we are torn apart.

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Family and Spouse Jacey Eckhart
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Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs at Military.com and a military sociologist.  Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan??

Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times.  Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.  

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