As a Army Ranger Regiment wife and wounded warrior spouse I know that we take care of our own.
But what happens when our own make the ultimate sacrifice for a country that fails the left behind in their hour of need?
Our Rangers, one of the Army's elite Special Operation units, took a hit, a big hit, over the weekend in their fight against terrorism. We lost four of our own and have a load of casualties -- wounded Rangers whose lives will never be the same. My heart aches for the families and for our entire Ranger community. You see, we’ve gotten comfortable with deployments. Some of our guys have done as many as 13 rotations. The Ranger Regiment has been extremely successful in the war on terrorism and we have done this with minimal injuries or deaths.
So this mass casualty has shaken me to the core. It has brought about a reality, a harsh reminder that we are still at war and a reality that our badass Rangers aren’t invincible.
But it also highlighted another truth: as the government shutdown lingers on and our lawmakers fail day after day to come to a solution, military families are paying the ultimate sacrifice and the government they did for does not have their backs.
When a soldier dies in combat and their paycheck immediately stops, they leave behind benefits. One of these entitlements is $100,000 to assist with any immediate needs like paying rent or funeral costs.
But yesterday four families were told that their loved one had paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country -- and that they would not receive that benefit until the government shutdown is resolved.
"We regret to inform you ...." the casualty officers said. And at some point not long thereafter those officers told the families that there would be no monetary help coming right away.
Essentially, these families have received an IOU from the government.
An IOU isn't good enough. And while there is no way to put a monetary value on a person's life, the very least they could do -- the RIGHT thing to do -- is to help the family with the immediate needs caused by combat death.
In the Ranger community we take care of our own. When my husband was critically injured when a grenade exploded inside the Stryker he was in, our Ranger family held us up.
And there is no doubt in my mind that our Ranger community will come together and do whatever it takes to support these families in their time of need. It is what we do.
But I am heart broken that our own government, the very one that these brave soldiers sacrificed for - has failed them and left their families in despair.
The Ranger Creed is the official mission statement of these elite soldiers. The second stanza says:
“Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier, who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger, my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier”.
Our Rangers fully uphold this commitment to our country. After all, Rangers lead the way. They know what their country expects of them.
But about what they expect from their country?
The Fisher House Foundation, renowned for providing a comfortable place to stay for military families and veterans forced to travel for medical care, is offering an advance grant to the families of the fallen to "fund flights, hotels and other incidentals for all family members," according to this story. You can donate to the Fisher House here or through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).