Navy, Politics

Dear Congressman

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I complain often enough on social media about Congress, especially regarding their treatment of the military. But complaining doesn’t change anything. So I decided to contact a few Representatives who are doing some positive work for military families and let them know how I feel.

Dear Congressman,

I must first confess that, as a Navy wife, I don’t really have many affectionate feelings towards our government.

I am patriotic, for sure.

Perhaps no one is more patriotic than a woman standing pier-side when her husband’s ship returns from a deployment. It’s hard to describe the intense and overwhelming pride that wells in your chest when your handsome man descends in his spotless white uniform, while a huge American flag flutters in the background.

Everything is forgiven in that moment, every short email, every long silence, every miserable month he’s been gone.

It’s romantic and beautiful, and that’s why it’s shown in country music videos, during football halftime shows, and on the evening news. It’s what Americans want to see – the happy days.

And those days are happy. But they’re hardly a fair trade off.

At every turn, it feels as though our service members and their families are the first to suffer when a defense budget needs cutting.

I used to trust Congress. I used to campaign for you and work with you in DC. And then I married my naval officer and moved far away, and now I feel what so many in the rest of the country feel – betrayed.

My personal betrayal is felt in many forms:

-Having to wait 4 weeks to see my PCM to refill my allergy medicine because our medical clinic is understaffed thanks to sequestration.

-Finding out my husband’s ship deploys again less than 6 months after it returned from 5th Fleet because budget cuts mean active ships are worked into the ground while others rest in the shipyards for years on end waiting for their upgrades and modernization.

-A federal hiring freeze when, most often, the federal government is the only place willing to hire military spouses and disabled veterans.

-A 2.1% pay raise counteracted by a significantly higher decrease in his BAH, resulting in a lower net pay than before his raise (but no one talks about that, everyone just wanted a high-five for approving the raise, and not to talk about states like Hawaii losing hundreds a month in BAH funds).*

-And most recently, discovering we will have, at best, only 2 months to plan moves due to the Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 2017. Honestly 3-4 months to plan moves across the country or across the globe are bad enough. 2 is just torture.

I understand we need a balanced budget. I understand the Defense portion of the budget is astronomical.

But what I don’t understand is why the sailors and the soldiers (and their families) are individually sacrificing to make your (the collective “your” of the government) budget cuts happen.

I don’t have spreadsheets of data to prove what I am saying (although, I am sure organizations like the National Military Family Association do). But please take my word for it – we are suffering.

This letter was supposed to be positive – I wanted to thank you for sponsoring the Military Residency Choice Act (H.R. 578) – but I don’t think you can fully understand the depth of my appreciation for such a seemingly small gesture until you also understand the depth of my feelings of frustration and betrayal.

H.R. 578 is a bright spot. Having to file taxes in two different states is not only inconvenient and confusing, but it is also expensive; to be able to file in my husband’s state of residency alongside of him would be wonderful.

I don’t live in your district, but I wanted to reach out because I will be very much affected by this bill. Thank you for sponsoring it.

I know you are busy with the details of a new administration, not to mention President Trump’s Executive Orders and the GOP’s target on Obamacare, but please bring this to the floor for a vote as soon as you can.

I am doing what I can by raising awareness among my friends and family, and encouraging them to reach out to you and your cosponsors as well.

This law would be such a blessing and such a gesture of good faith for me and my fellow military spouses.

This bill was originally co-sponsored by:

Rep. Robert Wittman [R-VA-1]

Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA-49].

As of February 23, bipartisan support and co-sponsorship has been provided by:

Rep. Rob Bishop [R-UT-1]

Rep. Walter Jones [R-NC-3]

Rep. Tim Ryan [D-OH-13]

Rep. John Garamendi [D-CA-3]

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter [D-NH-1]

I sent a copy of this letter to each Representative’s office in Washington, DC.

 

*On February 27, 2017, I was notified by a member of Rep. Walter Jones’s staff that a few of the cosponsors of H.R. 578 strongly opposed BAH cuts and signed a letter to the House Armed Services Committee detailing such. They are: Rep. Walter Jones, Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Tim Ryan, and Rep. John Garamendi.

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