Forgotten Heroes

Suzann Darnall

My husband and my grandson both have denim vests with a patch on the back honoring our Fallen Heroes. In the center it shows an American eagle head with the emblems for our five military services underneath, all imposed over a portion of the American flag. Above and below are the words. "In memory of our troops . . . Defenders of our freedom". In a circle around that center portion is the phrase, "The nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten." At the center bottom of the patch are the words, "Fallen Heroes".

My husband found those patches and I sewed them onto the vests. I thought about the message with each stitch. I am an Air Force wife AND an Air Force brat, so the words and pictures mean something to me. Something important. It is why wounded warriors, returning veterans, and old soldiers should be thanked for their service. It is why we must keep faith with our military. We must support our troops. We must give them the tools they need and help them care for their families. We have an obligation to them for what they give for us. Their time, their service, their sacrifice, and sometimes their life.

So, as I listened to the State of the Union address and came away with many questions about much of what Obama proposes, there was one thing in particular that jumped out at me: the military once again being given the short end of the stick! Our troops and their families again being treated as second class citizens by a president who espouses equality and fairness with almost every other breath he takes. But, it is once again something he says which is not true. He only extends his version of equality and fairness to those he believes deserves it. While I was not surprised that Obama once again breaks faith with a portion of our population, I was once again dismayed that our defenders will be shortchanged and denied what they have earned.

Oh, Obama gave much lip service to our military. He praised our troops . . . as well he should! But, much of it is just empty rhetoric to make political points. The uniforms in the room at the State of the Union are just window dressing for Obama to try to fool people into thinking he has respect and concern for our troops. When push comes to shove, his actions speak ever so much louder than his words!!!

If you doubt that he really does not care about our military, just consider the following actions he has taken or intends to take. Actions that show his lack of consideration for the military versus the civilian population.

Obama is planning to increase the federal worker minimum wage. One of the reasons he states is "because if you cook our troops' meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn't have to live in poverty". My main question is, "What is he doing to improve economic conditions for our military troops, veterans, and retirees"?

Will those who are serving and have served be given a cost of living increase? Will they again receive their promised benefits? Will base housing availability be increased so servicemen have decent places for their families to live? Will veterans and retirees have adequate access to free healthcare as originally promised? There are many more questions of this type, but I simply cannot list them all.

Obama and the Progressives have, over the past decades, eroded so much of the military "benefit package", as well as denying the military the simplest of pay raises to keep pace with the cost of living and/or inflation rates. I cannot remember how many times I watched Congress deny the military a pay raise or only allow a 3.5% to the troops while giving themselves a 35% pay raise!

While I realize that Obama, his administration, and his Congress are not responsible for all that has been taken from or done to the military, I do take offense at him stressing the need to do more for others while ignoring the deficiencies the military and their families face! He cannot just drag out the occasional wounded warrior as a showpiece or mention the Joint Chiefs of Staff and get a pass for his lack of effort to improve the overall military condition.

One thing that has happened recently is that ObamaCare allows civilian parents to keep their adult children on their medical insurance until the age of 26. However, military parents are denied this option. Military families' adult children are kicked off their sponsors' insurance coverage at age 21, unless they are full-time college students, in which a case they can be covered until age 23. Not only are the ages 3 to 5 years lower than the civilian option, but there is no college requirement for the civilian coverage. Where is the fairness in that? Are our military dependents less deserving of consideration than civilian families?

When my husband was on active duty we knew numerous families who qualified for food stamps, free school lunches, WIC, and the like. Most of the enlisted families lived below the poverty level. And, this situation has not improved in the years since my husband retired.

A lot of the troops Obama "praised" are earning less than the minimum wage he proposes for federal workers. Some active duty military have adult children who are struggling to go to college full-time, work part-time, and cope with health issues while not having the safety net of medical insurance coverage under their parents' policies. This does not seem like it falls in line with Obama's stated support of our troops.

Wounded warriors and veterans are often facing unconscionable delays in getting the medical care and benefits they were promised and deserve. Frequently the widowed spouses and orphans of our fallen warriors have to jump through endless hoops and fill out ridiculous amounts of paperwork to gain the benefits to which they are entitled. Does this seem like Obama is truly honoring our troops and our obligations to them? Despite promises to slash through the backlog, there are actually steps and requirements being implemented into the process that slows it all down even more. Some requirements seemingly geared at denying benefits to those most entitled to be cared for by their government. A government that should be grateful for the service and sacrifice rendered by military members and their families. Sacrifices that all too often include the loss of life, limb, or loved one.

Even retirees are having their benefits cut, through a back room deal done in Congress. Despite the fact that they essentially made a contract with the United States when they swore their oath. If a civilian company tried to do to their employees and retirees what the US government does to their military, veterans, and retirees, it would be unlawful. And, Obama did not take this opportunity to stand with the troops and speak out against the cut. Even more disturbing, while military pensions are being affected by the budget cuts, federal retirees are exempted. But, again, it is apparently okay to screw the troops . . . past, present, and possibly future!

While I agree with Obama praising our military, I want to see him actually live up to his words and the government's promises. I want to see him extend the same economic concern to our military as he wants to extend to federal workers and civilians. I want to see him show the same concern for military families as he does for others. I want him to live up to his fairness and equality policies in regards to the military. And, by military, I mean active duty, veteran, and retired!

Our military literally puts life and limb on the line to protect and defend. Even those who do not go in harm's way pay a price just because of the military way of life and relatively low wages. Our troops pay the true cost of freedom. Does their sacrifice not buy them right to have the promises made to them be honored?

I think so. I only wish Obama and the Progressives did, too!

© Suzann C. Darnall, JANUARY 2014

Back to Main Page

Website © 2010 SCD