HELL YES. Yes, we are entitled. Period. End of sentence.
Then again, maybe deserving is the better term. Certainly sounds less undeserving and snooty, don’t you think???
When I hear stories like the one posted here about the Marine’s family (the one Tom Rick’s re-posted on his blog and raised the ire of some commenters) having to beg to get home with their fallen soldier, when I hear stories about families falling through the cracks because of too few services, spouses giving up hard-earned careers to PCS from installation to installation every 3-ish years with no real help on the horizon, when I hear about programs getting yanked (Hello MyCAA!) without proper notice and without regard for those affected… I get angry. Not because I am a MilSpouse and those issues affect me too. Not because I think any of these programs are The Best Ever. Not because I think that we are better than our civilian counterparts. And not because my family or I use any of these programs. (Which, for the record, do not.) But because someone made a promise to us… someone said what you do, what you endure, what you experience as a MilSpouse warrants a bit of help, warrants a helping hand when your spouse’s career and the Greater Good stacks the deck against you in nearly every way (home life, marriage, parenting, friendships, career, sanity), warrants programs that help you because you are stationed 1,200 miles away from the family & friends that would normally lend a hand, warrants the respect and compassion of the civilian world who really have NO idea what it is like to be one of us. And they were right.
I think we (Military Families) have earned these programs and the respect of the American Public and I don’t think for one minute that we are out of line when we expect these things to be there for us. I think we are justified in our rage over the indifference of the American Public, I think we are right to expect a little bit of help when we put our spouse’s career (and, again the Greater Good) ahead of all else, I think we are even, sometimes, warranted in our isolation from the civilian world (really, how many times can you suffer through a conversation where someone just doesn’t get it and refuses to try?), and, in case you were wondering, also think that sometimes we are wrong. But I digress.
Saying we ‘deserve’ all this or that we have earned it may reek of entitlement but it’s the honest truth. Why? Because we are different, our lives are different. No matter which way you slice it, we are different from our civilian spouse counterparts. What we do, what our families do, what our spouses do is more dangerous, more treacherous, more risky, more honorable than any (okay, most) of the civilian families out there. What we sacrifice, what we deal with (on a nearly annual basis, not to mention training), what our spouses do is just plain different. We don’t have the choices they do, we don’t have the latitude, we don’t have the control over our lives like they do. We are servants of the DoD. By choice. So they don’t have to be. So yeah, we deserve it. And we earned it.
Of course, we volunteered for this, yes, we chose this life. BUT. That is the point. We did what no one wanted to do. We stood up and said, WE will bear this burden for you. We said its okay for you to stay home in your safe and cozy subdivision with your picket fence and American Dream, we’ll do annual deployments, sustain a marriage over the phone, run a household alone, miss holidays, miss births, cram in weddings on R&R, all while living in fear of a dark sedan, a knock on the door and a future as a Gold Star family.
Did I know what I was getting into? Hell no. I had no idea what I was in for. I just knew I loved a man who happened to be in the Army. But this whole ‘choosing’ business really sticks in my craw. The American Public should be grateful, relieved and revere those who CHOSE to do this so they wouldn’t have to. And for the record, if choosing means I loose my right to whine about it, then I don’t want to hear you whine about your kids or your husband or your job, because after all, you choose them. But, again, I digress.
In light of all this, it is so sad that we get grief over the programs that are out there to support us. When we (rightfully) complain about programs that are either not in place and should be or are taken away, we get called entitled and chided for asking for handouts. To that I say BACK THE TRUCK UP. After all our families sacrifice, it shouldn’t kill anyone to give us a few extra dollars to go back to school and scrape out a new career that may travel with us on our next PCS (which makes the communities we live in better and stronger). It seems perfectly reasonable to have programs or volunteers who offer actual help to our families, from marriage counseling, therapy, childcare, house/yardwork, and some tax-free income. It seems downright silly to question a year of tax-free salaries when the trade-off is bullets, IEDs, suicide bombers, overflowing Port-A-Potties, dead birds in your dining hall, MRE’s, sand in places sand has no business being in and missing out on a year in the life you built for yourself. I’d say we even deserve a bit more. And, it wouldn’t hurt if more than 3 people would stand up on a flight of over 100 and say, here, have my seat, your loved one gave his life for our country and for the betterment of the lives of others (so I didn’t have to), I can change my plans so that you can accompany his body home for his funeral.
If that makes us entitled… then fine, I’m okay with it. Last time I checked no one was asking for free vacations to Hawaii, 80” flat screen TVs and sports cars in every car port (because our “free” housing doesn’t come with garages or basements and they always share walls)… we are asking for support, we are asking for help when the cards are against us, we are asking for the respect that has been earned. And I don’t think that’s asking too much. Period.
*Caveat: Of COURSE there are soldiers/familes/spouses that maybe aren’t on the up-and-up, of course there are some that are despicable and unreasonable, but they aren’t the norm (thankfully).