Small Town Veteran

Baby boomer, nerdy kid, Viet Nam veteran, engineer, daddy, grandpa.
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« I hope your Thanksgiving was better than this
A Father's Farewell »


Caring for Those Left Behind

Thanks go to my friend 1stCav for pointing this Washington Post article out to me. You did bad things to my blood pressure, my friend, but thank you, anyway.

Caring for Those Left Behind
Soldiers' survivors need real benefits more than yellow ribbons.

By Frank Schaeffer 
Friday November 19, 2004


"What keeps me up at night is thinking you may never know what you mean to me. . . . If I don't come home, please tell Brianna that her daddy loves her more than life. . . . Brianna, it breaks my heart to have to miss your first birthday. I hope that you will forgive me. . . . I fall asleep every night with visions of you and your mommy in my head, reminding me of all I have been blessed with. I will be with you every day, if not in body, then in spirit. I love you more than my words could ever say."

[Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron White] was killed two days after Brianna turned 1. When an American in a military uniform is killed his or her family receives a one-time death gratuity of $12,000. The surviving family may also qualify for the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), which is paid up to age 62 or until the spouse remarries. The SBP benefit amounts to 55 percent of the soldier's retirement pay, pay that is already so low it qualifies many military families for food stamps.

These "benefits" are contingent on fulfilling many petty regulations. Michele did not qualify for the SBP because Aaron was in the Marine Corps just under 10 years. Several further benefits, such as the income-based Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), may pay out about $800 per month and $200 per child, depending on the case. Michele did not qualify because of several arcane technicalities. Michele and Brianna's medical benefits will end three years from the date of Aaron's death. But Michele did receive some modest insurance compensation, because Aaron paid for coverage out of his meager salary.

[...]   (Click here to read the part I'm leaving out.)

Let's strip away our yellow-ribbon sentimentality for a moment and admit the truth: We treat our military like second-class citizens. I'm glad the Sept. 11 families were generously compensated, but it's time to ask why the family of someone who has done no more for his country than show up at a stock trading office on the wrong day should receive hundreds of times as much compensation as the family of a soldier who volunteered to leave his wife and child to defend the rest of us.


In his second-to-last letter home Aaron wrote: "Believe me I am not having a good time here. This is an ugly hasty land. I hope [our] people appreciate the blood we are to spill." Judging by how we are taking care of his widow and daughter, apparently the answer is that we do not.

A comment from the author via private channels:

Some people felt that I have underrepresented what the government does to compensate families who lose loved ones KIA. So I want to note again that a military man or woman may purchase (out of their own pay) life insurance coverage up to 250 thousand at a good rate. However this should NOT be confused with a grateful nation doing the right thing by our brave troops. Moreover 250 thousand is scarcely a lot of money when you lose a husband or wife and are raising a family! Compare this to how even car crash victims are compensated. And this is a long way from how the wealthy banker's families were compensated after 9/11. And note all veterans benefits come attached to a nightmare of red tape. This situation would always be terrible but now that the most wealthy American have more or less opted out of serving it is indeed a scandal.


If you wish to pass this on to a friend or if you have a publication you have my permission in advance to republish or copy this to others.
Best wishes for a good Thanksgiving,
Frank Schaeffer

GOD DAMN IT TO HELL, PEOPLE! Is this what our Warriors deserve? Is this how we reward an all volunteer force? Don't the men and women dying for our country deserve to at least know their loved ones will be taken care of? Who's going to help me make some noise about this? Here's the least that I'll be happy with, and I don't care which side of the aisle it come from. Hell, I could end up voting for a Democrat next time if they do what's right here. I want full pay and benefits continued to surviving spouses for life, or to their surviving children until they're 21, whichever comes last. Brianna does not deserve to wear second-hand clothes because her Daddy gave his all for his country. Brianna's mother does not deserve to have to go husband-hunting because that's the only way she can support Brianna. Damn it! DAMN IT!

I'm going to push this one people, and keep pushing it. I don't know how, but I am. Brianna, you can take that as a promise. I'm not in a lot of important Rolodex's, but I do have some valuable email addresses, and I know a little about "networking", and I am heap highly pissed. I want a "Brianna" bill passed in the next Congress. Republicans: Help me because it's the right thing to do. Democrats: Help me because it will make going to war more expensive. Just help me.


Please help me spread the word. Link to this post, or just link to the original Washington Post item and post my idea as your own. Just help however you see fit.

Call your Congressman. Call your Senators. Write your local paper. Call the talk shows. Just help get something started.

Posted by Bill Faith on November 27, 2004 at 06:17 AM in Brianna | Permalink


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Caring for Those Left Behind:

» The SHAME of our Country from Mamamontezz's Mental Rumpus Room
Bill Faith over at Small Town Veteran has a post to a story that emphasizes something that in our fervor to support the troops that we don't seem to talk about; what happens to their families when one of our... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 27, 2004 9:58:06 AM

» Survivors from Conservative Insurgent
In Pericles' funeral oration, he says, "for a man's counsel cannot have equal weight or worth when he alone has no children to risk in the general danger." Once many of our leaders were also military parents, ... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 28, 2004 12:36:43 AM

» A Call to Help from Heather's Weblog
Click here to read a very touching illustration of why we should be providing better benefits for our soldiers and their families, as well as our veterans of wars past. This was something that is important to John Kerry, and I hope that it is important... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 28, 2004 1:47:05 AM

» Caring for Those Left Behind from Flight Pundit
How does America pay the families of it greatest Citizens? It doesn't! Does America owe the families of those who paid the ultimate price? Absolutely! Then why is this statement from Bill Faith ring so true. We treat our military like second-c... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 19, 2004 1:52:33 PM

» Please join and support HEROES Act of 2005 from Flight Pundit
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has stated that he is introduce a bill to improve the way we treat our military families. In this press release Here he commits to intrudicing a bill to honor military familys. in the next session of congress. "We mu... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 15, 2005 11:14:56 AM


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