Friday, July 13, 2007

Something to think about

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I don't normally like to get into politics as most people generally tend to have very strong feelings on what they believe and sometimes find it very hard, if not impossible, to agree to disagree. However, this post isn't so much about politics as it is about our military and what is being denied them. I should warn you right up front, though, that I am going to be quoting Rush Limbaugh towards the end of this post as even though I don't always agree with what comes out of his mouth, in this case I do.

This topic is one that hits close to home for me as not only a veteran myself but as the daughter of a veteran. My father served proudly for over 20 years in the United States Air Force and retired in 1974 after seeing action in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He had a very distinguished career and was promoted regularly but it sure wasn't a career path that was going to make him rich by any stretch of the imagination.

How on earth my parents managed to raise four kids on what my Dad brought home (or didn't) is beyond me. In January of 1967 when he was shipped out to Danang, Vietnam he was making $328.50 a month and getting an additional $105.00 a month as a Basic Allowance for Quarters. After taxes that was maybe $100.00 a week. He probably received combat pay but I'm sure it wasn't much and certainly nowhere near what he should have been making.

In 1974, just prior to retiring with a little over 20 years cumulative service, Dad was bringing home $892.80. We lived in base housing so he didn't get the $181.80 for Basic Allowance for Quarters at that time. When he retired in July of 1974 my father received a monthly pension of $453.55 after taxes. Less than $500 a month after serving his country for over 20 years ... pretty pathetic. Good thing my Mom is a financial whiz - a trait that I unfortunately did not inherit!

Obviously a second career was necessary at that point as there was no way my parents were going to raise a family of six on a little over $100.00 a week so Dad started career number two at Day Kimball Hospital where he worked for another 23 years until he retired after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - which he contracted from his exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam and which eventually led to his death in February of 2003.

At that time of my father's death, his pension had increased to $1,500.21 however the cost of living had increased so much that in order to buy the same amount of goods or services that my parents could have bought for $453.55 in 1974 they would have needed $1,737.14. That left his retirement pay $212.93 short of the cost of living increase ... pretty pathetic.

To put it in another perspective - in 1976 I joined the Air Force and was paid $374.40 a month before taxes. The current pay for an E-1 with less than 4 months service is $1,178.10 with a jump to $1,273.50 after four months. However, in order to purchase the same amount of goods or services that I paid $374.40 for in 1976, you would now need $1,352.18. That's still $78.68 less than what an E-1 in the military makes ... still pretty pathetic.

If you're going to say that you support our military and the troops that are fighting over in Iraq and Afghanistan then you might want to let your Congress people know that paying them just above or at the poverty level is unacceptable. Obviously this is nothing new as noted by my Dad's career and what I made while I was serving, too. You would think that the men and women who are serving our country - defending our freedom - deserve better than this. You would think that the families of our men and women who are serving our country - defending our freedom - deserve better than this.

Now I'm going to let Rush Limbaugh finish out the rest of this post for me as, love him or loathe him, he nailed this one right on the head ...
"I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you just don't criticize anything having to do with September 11. Well, I can't let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing about the entitlement mentality of this country. If you lost a family member in the September 11 attack, you're going to get an average of $1,185,000. The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7 million.

If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half of which is taxable. Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there's a payment of $211 per month for each child under 18 When the child hits 18, those payments come to a screeching halt.

Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of $1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it's not enough. Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harm's way FOR ALL OF US and they and their families know the dangers.

We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that, some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for compensation as well.

You see where this is going, don't you? Folks, this is part and parcel of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It's just really sad. Every time a pay raise comes up for the military, they usually receive next to nothing of a raise. Now the green machine is in combat in the Middle East while their families have to survive on food stamps and live in low-rent housing. Make sense?

However, our own US Congress voted themselves a raise. Many of you don't know that they only have to be in Congress one time to receive a pension that is more than $15,000 per month. And most are now equal to being millionaires plus. They do not receive Social Security on retirement because they didn't have to pay into the system. If some of the military people stay in for 20 years and get out as an E-7, they may receive a pension of $1,000 per month, and the very people who placed them in harm's way receives a pension of $15,000 per month.

I would like to see our elected officials pick up a weapon and join ranks before they start cutting out benefits and lowering pay for our sons and daughters who are now fighting."
I don't know about the rest of you but this really made me think and somehow, it just doesn't seem fair. At all.

Thanks to Boukie for the email that I based this post on.

10 comments:

  1. well yay you linda for speaking out for the military!!! as y'all know sarge was in for 26 years and we have medical benefits and a pension, but honey we worked many many years after that to get where we are and saved like idiots to do it. we had five kids and made no money for all the military years, but we are patriots and believe in what we did. with all out hearts. that is why i get so mad all the time! thanks honey, you did good!!!

    smiles, bee

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  2. WOW.............Job well done Linda, there is not enough money to pay the soldiers for what they so willingly do, and now we tell them they are losers, some things just piss me off.

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  3. Wow, very well said Linda! I had no idea that this kind of thing occurred. I think that most Americans are probably just in the dark about this sort of thing. It's such a travesty. Thanks for opening my eyes to this situation.

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  4. What a superb post! The irony of the greed that exists in this country when it comes to sports figures and other "icons," like rap singers, and the lack of support our military and police receive, is a sign of callousness.
    We'd better wake up and support our troops in the fullest sense of the word!!! (BTW - I like Rush!)

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  5. Well written, Linda. Those figures show what a lot of people may be unaware of. A Quality Post on my list.

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  6. Well said girl! I agree completely....

    And as you know you and I see the inequity in compensation for people every day. Look at our law enforcement, firefighters, EMT's, paramedics, and us lowly 911 dispatchers. All listed but the dispatchers put their lives on the line each day at work also. And while you and I as dispatchers don't directly put OUR lives in danger, the lives of those people who call for help are in our hands and those people depend on us to do our jobs correctly (no matter how stressed we are) to get them help as soon as possible.

    I just found out that my friends husband makes MORE than I do working at Frito Lay packing potato chips..... seem fair???

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  7. damn. it just isn't right.

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  8. You are a wonderful advocate for something that needs to be said. I had no idea how little our military personnel receive as compensation and I'm sure most Americans are just as ill informed. This is definitely a deficiency that needs to be rectified.

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  9. Although I rarely ever agree with the stuff Rush spouts off, this item is an exception and truly is something that should definitely be addressed!
    The retirement benefits of politicians is absolutely ridiculous too! And, to add one more thing into the mix, perhaps if the cutoff of (I think it is now $92,000 a year) were eliminated for social security taxes and everyone paid into that according to the same percentages but on the full amount of their earnings, perhaps Social Security wouldn't be in the shape its in either.
    Whether one agrees with our position in Iraq is a moot point. The bottom line is the soldiers are there by direct order, doing their job and putting life and limb on the line for what -peanuts? Apparently we learned nothing from Vietnam with respect to our soldiers serving and veterans that they are so disrespected in this manner.

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  10. Thanks for speaking out about this. I think most people have no idea this is going on! What is extrememly important though is that people take action and DO something about what they just read here. We need to speak out and let our voices be heard.

    Would it be ok to use your post in a letter to my congressmen?

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