Everywhere I turn lately, all I hear are “furlough-this” and “sequestration-that.” I’m going to do my absolute best to keep politics out of this post, because The Foodie Army Wife is clearly not a political blog. Coming from the perspective of a military family who is seeing this unfold before our eyes, it is pretty upsetting.
Every few years, military families PCS – or go through a military move. That means a new home in a new place every couple years. That also means kids being uprooted and changing schools again and again. Often the kids fall behind because of changes in curriculum or different standards from one location to the next. Could you imagine attending 4 different high schools in 4 different states, each with different graduation requirements – and being able to graduate on time? These kids often need tutoring or summer school just to be able to stay where they should be in their grade levels. Now these kids’ education is being sabotaged yet again. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories about how the “budget crisis” is effecting every aspect of government, and that means cuts across the board. Some people have said that it meant teachers not being able to teach. Others have said that schools are run by states not the feds, and that it is a scare tactic. Well guess what? There are schools that are run by the federal government. There are 194 schools around the world, serving around 84,000 military kids. And those schools are cutting class. A whole day each week.
Think about it. You get uprooted and start a new school in a new town as the new kid every other year. Then you struggle to catch up because you had the misfortune of being in a sub-par school district at your last duty station – all the while you are worried sick because you just found out that your dad or mom is going to be gone for a whole year…AGAIN. How can you expect that kid to thrive, when they are barely surviving? And now we are going to take away 20% of their education because we can’t balance the checkbook and prioritize the bills?
This whole furlough of the school system thing doesn’t affect us directly, because we have homeschooled our children for 12 years. I have two graduates and now one high school student. But as someone who has represented and rallied for military families through my volunteer work, I hurt for these kids who have yet another rock thrown in their paths.
That doesn’t mean that sequestration/furloughs haven’t hit us in other ways.
Access. Thankfully, we live on post. The installation has cut the man hours for the security guards manning the gates, so the people who live off post and have to get on the arsenal to work now have quite a wait in the morning. What used to take people 15 minutes to get to work is now much, much longer. There have been reports of some people taking 90 minutes to get through the gate.
Groceries. The commissary is the military grocery store found on installations. It is now closed Mondays & Tuesdays. Now here’s what I don’t understand. Generally any business knows that to make money, you have to be open. The commissary should be a self-sustaining entity. It is paid for by the revenue brought in by the consumers. Right? They charge a surcharge on all purchases, which they claim pays for the facilities, the employees pay, and everything else. At least that’s what all those corny commercials said that AFN played all the time when we lived in Germany. Hours = Customers = Revenue. So why are they cutting those hours? FYI: Commissary hours (per week) are mandated by Congress. Don’t run to the grocery store off post for milk the wrong time of day…milk will probably spoil before you can get back through the gate to get it home.
Here’s another “sequestration-effect” item that we see face to face. Rats.
As I sit here at my desk I look out through my neatly mowed back yard (that I mow myself) to a fence. Beyond that fence is overgrown weeds and everything wild that has gone to seed. It is a breeding ground for rodents. Every evening while we eat dinner, we watch rats run through our back yard. Now doesn’t that sound appetizing? We’ve killed countless mice and rats since we’ve moved in. When we moved in, we spent a great deal of time working to keep them out of the house, and thankfully we seem to have been successful there. But, we have had things running around in our attic. When the pest control guy came the other day to see about the critters upstairs, he stated the obvious. As long as the army lets that mess go back there, residents are going to keep dealing with this issue. And why doesn’t the army cut it? You guessed it. Sequestration.
Medical Care. Like most active duty military families, we have TRICARE for our insurance, and receive most or all of our medical care at our installation medical clinic. The clinic at our installation has cut its hours. It is only open 3 days a week. Three. Monday through Wednesday. Good luck getting an appointment. And I hope you don’t get sick on Thursday.
I understand that spending needs to be curbed. Things need to be cut. But when my own budget gets tight, I get rid of the cable, I don’t cut off the electric. And I can’t see the sense in some of the choices that are being made in the name of sequestration.
I’ll deal with rats in the yard – but no military kid should have their education further harmed because people in high places can’t get their own act together. I wonder sometimes what our government is thinking. Are they deserving of a volunteer force that will lay down their own lives at the behest of our commander in chief and his associates? Are they honoring the blood of the fallen? Lives of our friends? Is this what we’re fighting for? Are they looking out for us and willing to make the hard sacrifices?
Surely I’m not the only one that is nonplussed by this? What are your thoughts? How is sequestration impacting your life?