Just yesterday while taking about the Department of Homeland Security funding issues I candidly said to my co-worker "If I had the opportunity to meet and actually speak with President Obama or Congress, I would ask them 'Why don't you love the Coast Guard?'"
I was being very egocentric at the time but also very truthful. Since my husband's enlistment (shortly after the formation of the Department of Homeland Security under which the Coast Guard falls) the words "shut down, furlough and budget cuts" have become everyday language in our life. Now as a Coast Guard civilian employee, the lapse in funding will mean that come March we will have a monthly income of ZERO until this is rectified.
Throughout history the Coast Guard has always been a service that has done more with less. We take hand me downs from other services to decrease spending and to be mindful of budgets. Our families play second fiddle to the other larger branches of the Armed Services, YES the Armed Services. The United States Coast Guard is ONE of the SIX Armed Forces. It is our unique humanitarian missions that our service performs that allow us to also be a part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Because of this the Coast Guard was not only affected by the government shut down in 2013, but again today we wait for Congress and the President to come to a compromise that will fund our Coast Guard.
In the meantime, spouses are taking to social media posting concerns and outrage over what feels like a lack of respect for the sacrifices our members make on a daily basis for the sake of homeland security. Some like me will have an income of zero in March if this goes forward.
It's hard to sell patriotism and send your spouse off on a patrol knowing that their service is not valued enough to warrant the funds necessary to feed our families at home. Military spouses are strong and resilient, but this is outrageous.
We keep our home front secure so that our members can continue their missions, but Washington is sending a clear message to Coast Guard families: "Thanks for your sacrifice, but can we get back to you on that?"
And it's not only the Coast Guard that will go without, it's the multiple agencies that fall under the DHS umbrella including FEMA, NOAA, Customs and Border Patrol, TSA and the Secret Service.
All of these agencies have one primary focus: to protect our homeland. These are the men and woman who will risk their lives to save others, who on a daily basis perform missions that keep us safe on US soil and provide humanitarian services to keep Americans safe and to provide for them in times of need. These men and woman take pride in keeping America safe and knowing that what they do makes a difference.
So why should the American people care? Because not funding DHS, a humanitarian department, means that the President and Congress does not respect the American people enough to protect them where they are most vulnerable -- at home.
So in retrospect, I should change my question to a more broad question for the President and Congress -- "Why don't you love the American people enough to keep us safe?"
Danielle Medolla is the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Coast Guard Spouse of the Year and mother of three boys. They are stationed in Alaska.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.