Editor’s note: Thank you to Marine spouse Shannon H. for allowing us to share her powerful letter, to Coast Guard spouses Ellie and Abby for sharing their stories reflecting on previous shutdowns, and to Monica from the Stronghold Food Pantry. We are so grateful for brave military loved ones who continue to share how the shutdown will impact their families.
Open Letter to Congress from a Marine Spouse
It’s 4 o’clock in the morning. I’m awake nursing my 3.5 month old baby. We’re the only two awake in the house. Nonetheless, my husband is also awake. Only, it’s 17:00. He’s a full day ahead of me in a whole world away from my kids and me. He’s an Active Duty Marine on deployment in the Asian Pacific region, where he’s been since April, aside from the two weeks around Mother’s Day when he was allowed to return home for the tragic and untimely death of his mother.
However, in the midst of his deepest grief, June 1 he returned to join his team in his birthplace of Okinawa, Japan just days before they would go underway, and largely out of contact. Two weeks later, I would be in the hospital with the kindest nurses who were scrambling to send Red Cross messages and emails and make phone calls they’ve never made before, just to let my husband know that while he’s floating on a military ship somewhere in the Pacific, I was prematurely in labor with our third baby.
Their day-long efforts paid off. Just as my midwife was about to tell me to push, I received a phone call from ‘Restricted.’ It was him. He was with me; though, I couldn’t see his face or hold his hand and he couldn’t kiss my forehead or encourage me with my favorite proud and loving smile. It’s been 15 weeks since that day. He has only met our daughter through pictures and videos and stories of her challenges and her smiles. Two days ago, we were both giddy with excitement as he got to share with me that he finally had a return window. He would be able to hold our baby girl, hug our big kids, and kiss me within one month! We could see the light at the end of this not-so-fun rollercoaster. Only it seems now, that light is possibly just another train about to hit us head on.
You may not realize, but if you fail to act today, to do the job you signed up for, the job the American people entrusted you to do, servicemembers around the world will no longer have access to the systems and processes to make movements, such as moving their family to their new duty station, or coming home from deployment to their loved ones, including babies they’ve loved dearly but never held in their arms.
My family’s story isn’t unique. Show me a military family and I’ll show you their scars and the trauma they’ve endured to serve this country because we believe in the promise of “a more perfect union.” “We signed up for this,” I’ll hear. Fair and true. We absolutely did, and will continue to, even when it’s hard and doesn’t play fair, because of my husband’s dedication and our family’s values.
But, show me a politician who claims to “support our troops” and I’ll show you a liar. There’s no support for our troops when my husband is on the other side of the planet, diligently showing up for this country day in and out through grief and trauma, and we have to worry about another day gone by when he could be here with us, simply because a select few of you cannot be bothered to show up in good faith and do your damned jobs.
I implore you, on behalf of families like mine, on behalf of my children, on behalf of families in other aspects of our federal government in more dire financial situations that I can’t even imagine, as a pleading military spouse, please do the work. Fund our government, and our troops. Show up for us and give action to the support you claim.
A Military Wife
An Open Letter to Congress (on Instagram)
Military Family Facing Missed Paychecks
Coast Guard Spouse Reflects on 2019 Shutdown When CG Was Not Paid
Financial Impacts of Government Shutdown on Military Families
Featured photo credit: Vacari Dickerson