I will just come out and say it: I was wrong. And let me tell you, those words do not fall out of my mouth often.
But I need to give credit to where credit is due.
We put up a good fight my friends.
When I first read Amy Bushatz’s SpouseBuzz article regarding the Ryan and Murray deal that slashed retiree cost of living adjustments, I was on the phone calling my congressmen, senators, and every talk show I knew who would cover the story. Why? Because legislative affairs affecting military families are a deep concern of mine.
But I will admit, I was pessimistic that my fellow military family members and friends would do the same.
Because I have witnessed a disturbing pattern when issues like the threat of military benefit cuts are brought to the congressional table. We get mad, throw things at the TV, and post “government officials are nothing by pantywastes” on our Facebook statuses.
But it doesn’t solve anything. Oh, it feels good. But it doesn’t result in any improvement.
When I have questioned my fellow military spouses and families on their silence, I keep hearing the same stinking excuses.
“I’m too busy” (Like I don’t have a life and you do.)
Or: “What does it matter? It’s not like they care what I think.”
Sorry, those excuses are lame.
First, do you know how easy it is to write your representatives? Let me put it to you this way: it took me exactly 30 seconds for my voice to be heard during this last budget deal crisis.
That’s right 30 seconds! I just went to my “go to” military advocacy groups (the Military Officer's Association of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Military Family Association, etc.) and they had a drafted letter ready to sign. With one click, my voice was heard. In addition, they had a hotline to call my senator directly to leave a message. Yup, it was that easy.
I get that we are busy. We all are. I have got three kids, a deploying husband and a dog who refuses to clean up after himself, but 30 seconds people? I think we can make the time.
Second, when you do take the time to communicate, your voices ARE heard.
I recently read a blog post from the Karen Golden, Deputy Director of Military Relations for the Military Officers Association of American (MOAA) where she wrote this:
“Every February the Military Officer Magazine runs tear out post cards for members to use in order to make their elected officials aware of a particular issue.Which leads me back to my apology:
Several years ago, the particular issue pertained to the TRICARE fee hike threat. With your voice using the MOAA generated post cards, the mail containers were overflowing with 40,000 MOAA messages!
That spring, when the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) had its health care hearing, the Service and Department of Defense officials were on the first panel of witnesses.
The HASC stacked all those letters in front of the witness tables.
The Chairman requested that some of the mail containers be removed so he could see the witnesses. He then stated ‘If you think we’re going to ignore all these letters, you need to think again.’
Your voice made a difference.”
Yes, I was frustrated at the lack of public outcry from my military friends regarding the ongoing budget cuts facing our military in the past, but you all made up for it when the Ryan and Murray deal was on the table.
According to MOAA, “In less than a matter of days, over 200,000 messages were sent to Congress. That shattered all MOAA records on a single issue.”
You might say, “Well, we lost.” After all, the deal was passed by Congress and signed by the President. Military pensions were cut despite it all.
But here is what I say: we went down with a fight. And we keep fighting. On Jan. 7, 2014 for example a coalition of military support groups including SpouseBuzz participated in a Facebook and Twitter town hall to raise awareness and inspire our representatives to get us our benefits back.
And I have never been more proud to be a part of the military family.
Tiffany Anglesey is a Navy wife currently living in the Washington, D.C. area.