The blame game continues to escalate even after the short-term spending bill that has re-opened the government for three weeks. The bill was passed mid-day Monday and will keep the government funded through February 8. Maybe we should all take pause and see this through the lens of those whose lives are impacted when a government shutdown takes place, particularly military families. Ray, a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air National Guard for over 30 years, and his wife Christie, who runs a catering business, are parents to four children. They have been living the life of military deployments since shortly after September 11, 2001.
Raymond is currently on a six-month final deployment in the Middle East and is due back to the United States in late March. To follow is an interview conducted with him via text messaging and in person with Christie:
LN: Hey Raymond, how is it going over there?
R: Pretty good. We are past the half way mark and looking forward to getting back home.
LN: I know when I spoke to you last summer you were optimistic about the new administration and looking forward to some positive changes, how has that panned out?
R: Well, we have been super busy and I hardly ever see the sun, but so far it has been a great deployment. It is pretty cool to be in our military when we don’t feel like we have one arm tied behind our back.
LN: From over there, what is the perspective of the government shut down?
R: The shutdown will not have much impact on the mission itself, but it will stop everyone’s paychecks. So, depending on how long it goes on, moral becomes a major factor. It is very difficult to think of our families not having money to pay bills or deal with unexpected emergencies. It is a helpless feeling when you are half way around the world. We do not get much news about it, except when we talk or text with our wives, so we just stay focused and do our jobs.
LN: Any advice you would give the members of Congress with respect to funding the government?
R: Yeah, stay focused and do YOUR job!
LN: Christie, what do think about the shutdown and the short-term temporary funding being extended for three weeks?
C: I think it is horrible, and frankly I find it is sickening how politicians use the lives of the men and women whose lives are on the line, and their families, to leverage their political agendas. I was very upset about the timing of the vote and the smugness of the Democrats to vote against funding the government on President Trump’s one-year anniversary in office. Just like everything, it was orchestrated out of their hatred for him without any thought of the people whose jobs and paychecks would be interrupted.
I am just as upset with the Republicans who cannot seem to get on the same page. I for one do not think it is right to not pay your military and to tie it in any way to illegal immigration and that means DACA, too. Military families have to pay our taxes, we have to pay for our kid’s healthcare, education, and cell phones and our elected officials are going to jeopardize our lives because they feel sorry for people who are not citizens of this county and provide everything I just listed to them for free. That is flat out wrong, despicable, and demoralizing. I think it is the politicians with all their self-righteous agendas who should not get paid until it is settled. It absolutely should not be on the backs of our dedicated men and women who serve this country.
LN: Wow, very well said and with a lot of heartfelt passion.
C: That’s right! Our servicemen and women miss a whole lot of life, they miss little one’s birthdays and bath time, Christmas, proms, being by their sick a parent’s side just to name a few. Is it really too much to ask our lawmakers and the people of this nation, to give them the respect they and their families deserve?
LN: I agree completely. Thank you both for a very insightful and moving interview and thank you both for your service.