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Welcome Same-Sex Military Spouses--Now Get to the Back of the Line for Benefits

Welcome Same-Sex Military Spouses--Now Get to the Back of the Line for Benefits

Still not angry that our soldiers continue to get the short end of the stick when it comes to the VA?  Here’s another true story of a now retired and decorated “male” Special Forces soldier I know.

While over 800,000 war veterans are still forced to fill out over 600 pieces of paperwork to claim basic VA benefits, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel found it imperative late last month to appease our left wing President and announce that the DOD will “move quickly” on enacting benefits for same-sex marriage couples in the military. What boggles the mind is that in the wake of billions of forced defense cuts that will, to quote our own leaders in Washington, “gut the world's greatest military,” the Pentagon has already admitted they are unable to estimate the costs of the changes they are moving quickly to enact.

It’s all because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to scrap the Defense of Marriage Act from the books, making same-sex marriage a federally recognized institution. Now I personally think we have more important things to worry about than same-sex marriage-- al-Qaeda anyone?--and I’m sure my conservative readers will have something to say about that. But for now I will just focus on the effect post-DOMA implementations will undoubtedly have on the hundreds of thousands of veterans, many with severe injuries, who have been fighting to receive basic care and provisions under the current military benefits system.

There are an estimated 17,000 servicemembers and their same-sex partners who would be affected by the roll out expected by this October, quite a small amount compared to the overall size of the military, but not such small potatoes when thousands of our combat vets are already on a two year wait - and that’s a good day - in the VA healthcare system.

What’s even more ironic is that while enacting new benefits for same-sex couples has become the latest priority for an already bloated military system, the military norm is to ALWAYS postdate new benefits so that current soldiers get screwed out of them.

For instance, this new retirement provision for National Guard/Reserve was passed in 2008 to acknowledge their part in fighting the War on “Man Caused Disasters:" For every 90 days a National Guard/Reserve soldier has been deployed in a combat zone post 9/11, he can retire 90 days earlier (up to 2 years) than the required 20 years of service. Problem is,  the 600,000 troops who deployed between September 11, 2001 and 2008 - the heaviest deployment rotations for most units - get NOTHING.

The benefit only applies to soldiers whose deployments took place after the law was passed by Congress. Or how about the fact that for decades federal employees get matching contributions (similar to a 401k), while military members have not. A new pilot program has changed that, but again it only applies to soldiers with certain criteria who have entered the service after the enactment date.

Or how about a former combat Marine I know, a platoon leader who led his guys during heavy battles in Iraq, multiple times, multiple deployments? A soldier who risked his own life and lost men in the process. He’s still serving his country, now as a Special Forces captain leading an A -team. All that blood, sweat and tears, and you know what the military told him when he tried to cash in on his GI bill for a Masters degree - he didn’t have enough consecutive time served to get the full bill. It’s a demoralizing slap in the face to our brave veterans who deal with these benefit bureaucracies one after the other.

But really none of that matters, at least according to the Executive Director of OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Allyson Robinson, who claims any increased costs from extending benefits to same-sex couples is just simply the cost of supporting the United States.

"We as a nation … take care of those who put their lives on the line for us," she said. "For any individual or any organization to even raise the issue of costs of supporting gay and lesbian service members and their families, it really shows their opposition for exactly what it is. It's not about the cost. It's about their prejudice."

Really? Is furloughing our National Guard soldiers and Airmen “taking care of those who put their lives on the line for us?”

How about cutting services like doctors hours and child care for our military mothers raising their children alone while their husbands are overseas getting shot at? Does that count? How about the Pentagon’s unfathomable suggestion to cut ‘imminent danger pay’ for the soldiers not necessarily in a “hostile fire zone” even after Benghazi and the threat of Green on Blue attacks increasing ten-fold?

The knee-jerk reaction of the left strikes again. Even after the repeal of DADT and pretty much not a peep of insubordination from our service members; concerned families members and military supporters are called prejudicial heathens to even question how the DOD is going to come up with the billions of dollars to fund these post DOMA benefits. This as the Veterans Healthcare system is in a shambles and almost a million troops - you know, “the ones that put their lives on the line for us” - are suffering because of it.

Where is the self righteous left when it comes to standing up for our veterans? Let me think...hmmm. Oh that’s right- NOWHERE! They’re too busy fighting for liberal staples like Obamacare and Chai lattes.

Speaking of Obamacare, which thankfully has parts of it now on hold until 2015; has it never dawned on all these smart liberal policy makers that if the government can’t get it’s own VA healthcare system running properly, the likelihood of creating a successfully working national healthcare system is pretty much negative zero.

Still not angry that our soldiers continue to get the short end of the stick when it comes to the VA?  Here’s another true story of a now retired and decorated “male” Special Forces soldier I know. Male being the apropos word here as we all know women are presently not allowed in combat units. This combat vet suffered a recurring back injury through many deployments over his 20 year career. Eventually, his injuries left him unable to perform his normal duties - like walking for instance - and required multiple surgeries. Applying for medical benefits through the VA, the soldier found navigating through the system to be a constant uphill battle, constantly filling out paperwork, and submitting endless forms during the YEARS long process to get proper care. He was forced to see doctors upon doctors, before eventually making it to Walter Reed for his surgeries. At one point, his “medical packet” had been kicked back through the system and he was called to go back for yet another evaluation - this time to a gynocologist. Why? It seemed his medical records listed him as having none other than - vaginal cancer.

An innocent mistake? Yes, but have you ever tried to argue with, let’s say, a clerk at the Dept of Motor Vehicles?  What makes you think the government employees running Obamacare will be any more efficient? From the shameful embarrassment of our military hospitals to our non- existent and recently scrapped electronic records system, the VA system is broken, billions in debt, and no one knows how to fix it.

I say overhaul the VA system and make it the small scale practice model for a national healthcare system. If we as a nation can get that  right - I will be the first one to sign up for Obamacare wearing a “Hope and Change” t-shirt to boot.

In the meantime, let me just say to all you same-sex military couples looking forward to claiming your newly minted court ordered benefit bonanza: You wanted you’re equality, well you got it.  Now get to the back of the line for benefits like everyone else.


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