Many of us are cheering for a government shut down. Who wouldn’t be willing to make the ‘if it isn’t essential, why do we even have it?’statement? Unfortunately, a little rain must fall on every parade. Or something like that. The President has deftly allowed the Republican House Representatives to paint themselves into a corner–truly well played. The Republicans can spin it anyway they want–even if voters blame President Obama or the Senate Democrats, the fact remains there will be soldiers (Marines, sailors, airmen et al) who can not make ends meet if they don’t get paid on time. What’s that you say, that they’ll be paid those missed days because nobody would ever short change SOLDIERS AT WAR for a few days pay? Irrelevant. Moot point. These young soldiers, often with small families, live on less than paycheck to paycheck.
Single soldiers leave in dorm-like environments complete with dining facilities that serve 3 meals/7 days. They get clothing (somewhat!) for physical activity and work. There’s usually a common room with a TV. And entertainment…nothing more entertaining than harassing your peers! If they don’t get paid on time, there will be some gnashing of teeth, fears and late fees, but nobody goes hungry, nobody loses any work.
Married soldiers on the other hand have a different set of challenges. They may live off post, and although the military credits them a housing supplement, will it arrive this month? There are extremely few military members on food stamps, but an amazingly large percentage live paycheck to paycheck. How many families with 2-4 members, led by a high school graduate 20 year old breadwinner DON’T live paycheck to paycheck? The nearly unique opportunities afforded by the military include moving quite often (to different states, or even foreign countries), moving to places that already have entirely too many other military spouses who have spotty work histories looking for entry level jobs, and the chance to have the breadwinner leave for 30 days to 15 months at a time–leaving the remaining spouse in a new place with no support system. Of course, many wives take their kids and move home with to be closer to their parents.
So as you cheer the excess, surplus and extraneous (ie the nonessential) being furloughed for a week or more, remember there are young kids who have signed up to risk their lives and aren’t going to have their paychecks next week.