I know it’s highly probable that this post will be a little offensive to some and may draw a bit of criticism but this is something that drives me nuts every time it’s brought up. I stupidly got caught up in a discussion on a CG spouse Facebook page and thought I’d vent here rather than continuing on with a moot argument.
Something I’ve been hearing since the beginning of my time as a Coastie Wife is the yearly spouse’s discussion on how terribly we are treated by the government. The new budget comes out or the annual proposed pay increase is released and it’s “How will we live? Obama hates the military! We’re entitled to a free education!” And my personal favorite and one I’ll never forget – “We’re so broke that we have to shop at Save – a – lot!” But I am so damn sick of hearing this that I’m about to burst!
Let me put it into perspective. Before my husband joined the Coast Guard he had a resume that read a different job every six months and one year of a tech school education. And yet now, a mere six years later he has a bachelors degree that he earned for free, has traveled all over the country for free (half of the time getting paid extra to do so), provides our family with arguably some of the cheapest health care in the country, can retire seven years after his father can and makes more money than my mother who is a teacher still paying off her student loans. On what planet does this equate to bad treatment by an employer? Name me one other field, besides the military, where one can be a 17 year old kid with zero education or work experience yet get a four year contract with a set salary and full benefits. There isn’t one. I’m not trying to say that there aren’t sacrifices because there are and I know this. But we’re taken care of.
We don’t make a lot of money. This is true. But if you follow this blog at all you can probably figure out that we’re not struggling at all either. If we were, we wouldn’t be able to go on the countless day and weekend trips that we do. We wouldn’t be able to pay for our entire family to move across the country when the opportunity arises to get back to the east coast. We wouldn’t be able to drive a newer decent vehicle, to comfortably afford having three children or allow me to stay at home and care for our family. And my husband isn’t even high ranking.
The thing is – and I can say this because it’s my blog – is that if you are a military family under the same or similar circumstances as my family (as most of the Coast Guard families I know are) and you are broke, it’s probably because you don’t budget well. The first couple of years for us as a CG family were very hard financially but it wasn’t because we didn’t make enough money. It was because we were stupid and made bad choices before we joined the CG. Josh’s career in the Coast Guard has allowed us to get our shit together and live the life that we have now.
Without making it a political thing I want to say that I agree that our government’s budgeting ability is shit. I agree that it is BS that our Congressmen can perform the way they do and continue to have the pay and benefits they do while cutting more important funding. I also believe that the Coast Guard, specifically, gets screwed all the time. When the Navy has a bigger budget for one boat than the Coast Guard has for it’s entire mission something is wrong. Just like local police and firemen are under appreciated and under funded, as is the Coast Guard. But I can’t agree that CG families aren’t taken care of.
Basically I feel like there’s a simple answer for the spouses who are displeased with what the government gives us – Get out. If your family isn’t making it on what we get then find a new job. But you may find it hard to come across an employer who will give you,
- Free housing (or an extra allowance for the cost of housing)
- Free utilities
- Money towards college (whether it’s tuition assistance, book stipends, the GI Bill or just the college credits you earn from the free training you get)
- Childcare subsidies
- 30 days of paid vacation a year
- $0 copay on every doctor visit (as well as 100% coverage on major surgeries, prenatal care, labor and delivery,etc)
- Higher allowances if you have children (that’s right civilians. My husband gets paid more money than his equal, for things like housing and cost of living allowance JUST because he has kids)
- Paid emergency evacuations (things such as hurricanes, etc)
- No taxes (we pay taxes but get 100% + back at income tax time because military is only required to claim base pay, essentially meaning most of us are considered “low income”)
- Annual and biannual raises regardless of performance.
And with that, I say let’s just stop all the bitching and instead be thankful for what we have. Especially since there are people lined up for the job and money and benefits that your family is fortunate enough to have.