...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, June 03, 2004
      ( 8:33 AM )
Hungry Defenders

On Tuesday, another huge bunch of Oregon National Guard soldiers shipped out for at least 16 months away from home. The impact of our state losing this many working people is big enough, but the impact on their families has been horrendous. More National Guard families are going hungry than any other segment of our society lately.

"Emergency food providers from around the country are reporting a surge in demand from the families of reservists," reports the Web site of the D.C.-based Food Research Action Center, noting news stories from California, Florida and Washington.

Col. Dennis Spiegel (Ret.), deputy director of the private organization Army Emergency Relief, reports that requests for assistance from National Guard and reserve troops -- who qualify as soon as they're called in full-time service -- went up "several hundred percent" from 2002 to 2003. States all over the country, says Spiegel, have been asking the Department of Defense to send someone out to explain how access to programs such as food stamps and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition programs works for military families.

We have a huge hunger problem in Oregon - something our state leaders don't like to really do much about, even while they make slight indications they're concerned about it. But adding to that burden are now families that have seen their salaries cut by huge percentages, which is only adding salt to the wound of their family member having to be gone and face injury or death for more than a year.

Most military families interviewed by reporters say the financial problems are insignificant compared with worry about the servicemen's safety. But the pressures are real. In Thurston County, Washington, home of Fort Lewis, 250 military families are on the WIC program.

"I think the stories of families being in need," says Ellen Vollinger of FRAC, "are pretty striking."

It does seem that the least we owe Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is that their families at home shouldn't be hungry.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't a good FOURTH of our country's budget go to the Defense Department? Is there some reason that this Mama is missing why we must spend $300,000 a month paying a double agent like Chalabi and buying horrible and destructive weapons and paying Halliburton to drive empty trucks around Iraq while our own forces' families go hungry, without consequence?

There WILL be a consequence, and it will be in the continued breakdown of our own society and our own country's fabric. The Republicans like to yodel and holler about "family values" and the breakdown of morals that is destructive to our country. And yet, while they've been in power, more people have gone hungry, more people have been killed, and more people have had to struggle to even survive. Explain to me how protecting people from gay marriage is more crucial than protecting children from being hungry or having a future with one or more of their parents. Explain it, please.

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