Last week a friend shared a link on Facebook to a January article by David Wood. I was shocked, as I'm sure was the author's intent, by its wording, by its inaccuracies, and by its potential to mislead the public about military pay and military life. It has since been edited and wording that previously described funding from the Pentagon as being "lavished" on active duty members and their families was deleted and replaced with the word "spent." In short, the article tried to sensationalize the fact that military pay has increased since September 11th, claimed that all housing costs for military families are provided, and hinted that family programs were expanded unnecessarily. I'm not in a hurry to click back to this article to note which other parts have been rewritten after outraged readers' comments demanded it. Reading something once by an author that didn't bother to confirm numbers or worse, purposefully distorted them to gain readers, was enough. A journalist might, but do members of our military get a second chance to do their job right?
As disturbed as I was reading the article, I was more disappointed by some of the comments people wrote in response. Some were defending the author and his assertion that the military has been overpaid and over incentivized in comparison to civilian employees. The conclusion drawn from such comments is that even after ten years, many people not affiliated with the military don't appreciate the sacrifices that have been made. But then, how could they?
|Scout trying to stall the packing for deployment|
A good friend of mine had her first baby the day before our son was born. The day after she brought her new baby home, her husband left on a one year deployment. She was on her own with an infant, missing and worrying about her husband. I find it hard to believe that anyone could claim he was overpaid for the year that he missed seeing his family. What other job would require such sacrifice and be criticized as too generously compensated? There is no reason to compare civilian pay and military pay. To do so is an ignorant disregard for exactly how that military pay was earned in the last ten years and for the many who died earning it.
My "while my husband was deployed" stories might seem like a party (trying to replace a lawnmower blade myself or accidentally toppling a giant Christmas tree on myself as I tried to move it out of the house) when compared to friends that have faced much more. How many civilian jobs result in missing the birth of your child, your child's first day of school, or graduation? I know moms that have had to build go-carts, dads who had to learn how to braid hair, and families that said a tearful goodbye to a loved one that never came back home to them. The money in their bank accounts should be the last thing to cross any minds.
Military members miss moments in life that no one should have to miss and there are many that remember moments they wish they didn't have to. None of them should do so without a grateful public behind them. We may never again see the flag waving, yellow-ribboning kind of support that we saw for military members in 2003 but that shouldn't correlate with increased doubt of their worth.
People not affiliated with the military often comment to military families that they, "don't know how you do it," or "couldn't do it." I've often just shrugged those words off, but maybe they're right, maybe they couldn't.