Monday, September 30, 2013

Dear Congress

Dear Congress,

While the media pundits talk about waiting for one side to "blink", I think it is safe to say that the rest of America is already flinching.  Appalled at the lack of leadership being displayed on Capitol Hill right now.  Saddened by the inability of our nation's elected government to put their own political agendas and aspirations aside in order to do what is right.  Not notice I didn't say "best", I said "right".  The way you are holding your constituents hostage right now is unconscionable. And I think there are going to be dire consequences from this disgusting game of chicken you are waging with one another.

It is football season again, but I'm not talking about College Game Day or Monday Night.  I'm talking about using your government workers and military as a pawn in your desire to get what you want.  You have men and women on the front lines right now, young soldiers who live paycheck to paycheck, whose minds aren't 100% focused on their mission because they are worried about their families back home.  "Supporting the troops" means being for them in mind and body and spirit.  Not just slapping a yellow ribbon on your car and waving a flag during a parade or giving a speech on Memorial Day.  It is about thinking about the emotional ramifications of using troops to get what you want during a political temper tantrum. 

As my very eloquent and brilliant friend Vivian said on CNN yesterday, "we have always considered our paychecks sacrosanct".  And shouldn't we?  If the government shuts down tonight at midnight, all military members will be expected to report for duty on Tuesday morning.  Our overseas fighters will still be expected to go on their missions and stand the watch.  Military members will still be in harms way.  What a slap in the face to our military members and families to expect them to lay their lives on the line while Congress escalates the budget agreement into a fight over issues that have been lingering for years. 

On a personal level, the Naval Aviation community suffered a tragedy last week when two of our pilots were killed in the Red Sea.  They were flying missions in the Red Sea because of the ongoing uncertainty in Syria.  They were supposed to be home by now.  But no, they followed orders and served bravely and nobly and paid the ultimate price for their country.  And now, because of this inexcusable lack of leadership and motivation, the widows of these brave men might not get the death benefits they deserve.  Read the words of Landon's widow Theresa and tell me that this woman should be stressed about money right now?  The answer is no.  Thinking of her grief and anxiety makes me physically ill.  If it hasn't made you "blink" yet, you are certifiably crazy.

It took me almost a full week to sit down and write this letter.  I believed that Washington was better than this.  I grew up inside the beltway in McLean, I went to grade school with your children, attended birthday parties at your homes.  Congressman have never been so theoretical in my mind because I have watched you play with your kids and provide for your families.  You are human and have loved ones and understand how important family is.  But now, as part of the 1% that makes up military families, I have become disenchanted and saddened that the people I know have the power to compromise, to put their personal political agendas aside to truly work for the American people, have decided instead to use my husband's livelihood as the ultimate pawn.  Being the political party who "saves the troops" is now a prize.  But I challenge you to remember who you are saving the troops from.  That right now the villain is not Al Queda or an overseas target; right now it is our own government who is taking solid aim at our life.

Government distrust is real and has real consequences.  The more you use the military and government workers as a bargaining chip, the more that your best people will walk away.  This lifestyle is already stressful - between moves and separations and the dangers of the job, we are already more taxed than the average person.  But to add this bi-annual game of wondering whether we will even get our paycheck to pay our mortgage is unconscionable.  And you will send your best and brightest running to the private sector faster than you can "blink".  This battle, whether it is settled tonight at 11:59 PM or a week from now will leave a deep scar on the minds of military members and their families.  It will be something families consider when deciding to re-enlist or not.  And our nation will suffer for it.


Karen @ And Then We Laughed said...

Well said, Jill. Very well said.

Anonymous said...

You put into words what this spouse is feeling, thank you.

RealDeahl said...

Here here, wish they'd hear.

Jess said...


Lisa Diaz said...

Thank you for this. You have articulated so well what so many of us are feeling.

Anonymous said...

This is stated so perfectly. I just read a post on a spouses board today from a mother that is worried about the WIC office being closed. Many of our military members are barely making it and depend on that subsidy to help feed their children and this saddens me so much. It is a game to our elected officials to outsmart and out talk one another. I wish that we had the ability to automatically recall these people. There are no consequences for them though.

Leticia Stevens said...

Tonight I tweeted every Congressman that serves in an area surrounding a military base in the states of Texas, Florida, Washington and of course California (Cali you are a beast to be reckoned with) your blog post. Many military members keep FL,WA and TX as their state of residency due to the states no income tax status. Military members vote in these districts in the hundreds of thousands. So of course I am not surprised when the pay the military (?) bill passed. These congressmen only did this for themselves and their votes. I personally would have sacrificed a few paychecks for universal healthcare. Pay everyone or shutdown. Will veterans please consider running for Congress? Especially in TX, FL and WA. Protecting security of US is the military mission... we need to be protected from self seeking politicians. Veterans on the hill! Again thank you putting into words what so many spouses feel. You should do this for a living!

Anonymous said...

I think that the American people should get even and not reelect anyone that is currently holding office. This stalemate is not getting us anywhere and it's time for these so called adults to grow up and start working on getting this thing settled!

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Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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