Recently a conservative member of our community expressed an attitude that I found to be quite disturbing. His statement in regard to benefits available to dependents and survivors of military members who have been either disabled or killed in action was, “They didn’t earn squat!”
With this statement, this person is of the belief that no one except the individual who actually served in the military should receive any type of benefits such as health care or educational assistance at no or low cost.
I believe that this attitude regarding military dependents and beneficiaries does a great disservice to the family members of our military men and women who, along with the service member, have persevered through military deployments, separation from their loved ones and the struggle to maintain a coherent family life while constantly worrying whether their husband, wife, mother or father will return to them. In addition, many agonize about whether their loved one will be the same person, mentally and physically, when they return.
During a recent interview, former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized the proposed reductions in our military as we wind down from 12-plus years of war by stating, “(Obama) would much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops.”
Apparently Mr. Cheney, in his eagerness to disparage the president, neglected to take into consideration that $104 million in food stamps were redeemed at military commissaries by military members and retirees in the last fiscal year — in fact, the growth of food stamp usage in the military overshadows that in the general population.
I realize that many conservatives are loath to give anyone what they consider “handouts” or “freebies.” They believe that everyone should pay their way or risk being considered lazy slackers or leeches on society.
The pretentious attitudes of the aforementioned “local conservative” and Dick Cheney can only be described as cavalier and express a lack of understanding of the sacrifices our military families have made in order to support our military men and women and our nation.