I tried to post last Friday and I was just too defeated to do it. I sat in front of my computer many times and just couldn’t bring myself to write anything.
We are on Day 35 of the government shutdown and morale is low. Very, very, low.
I realize fully that unless you are impacted directly by something that it isn’t something that sits in your awareness. I am just as guilty of this, and these days there are so many issues and hurts and injustices around us that it is overwhelming. This post is not a judgment on anyone, more of a vent.
I am pained to see images of active duty Coast Guard members having to get groceries at the food pantry. It hurts me to hear stories of people choosing between diapers and putting gas in their car. It saddens me to know that some members are working a full day and then driving Uber to try to make some extra money. The list does on and on.
People that join the military do not do so for money, it is the not their motivation. They do so because they have a deep commitment to serving others. Anyone that puts a uniform on does it to make the world a better and safer place.
We are about to miss our second paycheck (many federal workers are going to miss their third) and there is no end in sight. Every time we think that we are close, sadly, we aren’t close at all.
(Edited – as I was typing this the President reopened the government for three weeks. I’m grateful that the government has reopened, but not optimistic that we won’t be back here in less than a month.)
Many enlisted members are living barely above the poverty line on a normal day. I’ve seen them shamed and shamed again for not having enough savings to float them through the shutdown. Yes, in a perfect world, everyone would have a nice little nest egg for times like these, but life doesn’t always work that way. You have no idea what anyone’s financial situation is.
Money is a touchy subject, but when the threat of not knowing when you will be able to pay your bills, it gets real hot, real fast. It is difficult and taxing.
I bounce between sadness and gratitude. Sadness that our active duty military members are being treated this way by the government and the gratitude from the kindness of the communities in which they live. Food drives, donations, potlucks – so much love and support has come from the areas that have a Coast Guard presence.
If you ask any of us right now how we are doing, the answer is fine.
The reality – none of us are fine.
It has been the most stressful and exhausting month. While my bills are paid and we have what we need, it hasn’t come without worry. The uncertainty. When will this end? The guilt. Others we love are struggling, what can we do? The annoyance. Rude and ignorant comments from the general public. (Do yourself a favor and don’t read the comments section on a news story if you don’t want your blood pressure to skyrocket.)
Asking for and receiving help is a gift, one that many do not have (myself included). Most people will suffer in silence because they are too proud or embarrassed to ask for help or will wait until the situation is desperate.
I’ve learned some valuable lessons this month. If I am able to help someone, I’m going to be proactive about it. I might send some money to someone that I know needs it, order groceries and have them delivered, drop off dinner or bake some cookies, send flowers. Being kind and generous if you are able is always the right answer.
Even though our financial needs have been met, I can’t even begin to tell you how it touched us that people thought of us. A card, a hug, a “hey, this stinks, we’re here for you”, flowers, any gesture meant a lot. I will pay it forward as many times as I can for as long as I can.
It also was beautiful to watch my Coast Guard family come together and support each other. From the very top to the bottom. The Commandant, Coast Guard leadership, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, The Coast Guard Foundation and too many others to list. They were there for us when we needed saving, they did the hard work, they fought for us, and they did what they could to make things better. The families held each other up, even if they didn’t have a lot to give, they showed up.
Military life isn’t easy. Before we got married, Wes sat me down and made sure that I understood that I wasn’t just marrying him, I was also marrying the Coast Guard and everything that goes along with it.
I didn’t know it then, but it has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life. I love being a Coast Guard family. Even when it’s hard and lonely and isolating and plain shitty. Our lives are richer because of the experiences and people that the Coast Guard has given us. We’ve experienced high highs and very low lows together.
The motto of Coast Guard is Semper Paratus, meaning, always ready. Missions and responsibilities have not stopped during this shutdown. Lives have been saved, drugs have been seized, the environment has been protected by people that were working without pay.
That doesn’t sit right with me.
Let’s hope that our representatives can get it together – reopen the government – for good – and we can go back to normal ops.
WHAT CAUGHT MY EYE THIS WEEK //
I only have one thing that I want you to read this week. If you could share it, even better.