They can’t defend themselves.
Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airman and Coasties work every day to ensure the ideals of freedom continue. They fight. This is their job, their charge. Missing holidays, birthdays, precious life moments all for assurance that America remains free.
And they can’t defend themselves. An individual in the military can make no statement to the press without first clearing it with a public affairs representative. They will be punished if they stand up against rude individuals. And when it comes to political expression, the rules are so murky, so grey that the best advice they can get from leadership is to keep out of it. When they see other service members breaking these rules it can be infuriating. Often the ones doing so are loud-mouthed braggarts who do not accurately resent the overall feeling of other service members.
All of this is ironic. Ironic because the people who defend the constitution and work in an environment directly affected by the actions of politicians have no voice except for voting. And for most of them voting isn’t as easy as a stroll to the local library or school. It’s a process of filling out form after form to receive an absentee ballot which, often, never shows up or when it does it may be too late.
This voting dilemma isn’t just their issue, it effects their spouse as well. They often vote as a family since only one of them got a ballot in time.
Sure there are service representatives that exist to advocate on Capitol Hill, but they can only do so much. Slowly medical, retirement and education benefits have been eroded or used as leverage in for larger budgetary mismanagement. These benefits are the only measurable incentive troops receive for the sacrifices they make. Pride and honor in serving can only get them so far.
The average enlisted man earns around $30,000 a year. Most families live pay check to pay check. Any amount of money they save is quickly consumed by moving every two to four years… possibly overseas or in an effort to return home and visit family. It means a lot when someone comes up says thank you but the best thing you can do to show support is let your elected officials know they are people, tired and strained, that deserve to be treated as more than a line item on a budget or rider.
They can’t defend themselves. But you can.