Posted by: the warrioress | September 24, 2013

Food Stamps 2

The below letter was written on September 19th by an Iraq War veteran named Jason. He fought for our country and came home to an America that has left him feeling disenchanted. Jason wrote the letter in response to Republicans voting to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program this past week. He happens to be one of those who is currently counting on food stamps in order to not go hungry.

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My name is Jason. I turned 35 less than a week ago. My first job was maintenance work at a public pool when I was 17. I worked 40 hours a week while I was in college. I’ve never gone longer than six months without employment in my life and I just spent the last three years in the military, one of which consisted of a combat tour of Afghanistan. Oh, and I’m now on food stamps. Since June, as a matter of fact.

Why am I on food stamps? The same reason everyone on food stamps is on food stamps: because I would very much enjoy not starving. I mean, if that’s okay with you: Mr. or Mrs. Republican congressman. Mr. or Mrs. Conservative commentator. Mr. or Mrs. “welfare queen” letter-to-the-editor author. Mr. or Mrs. “fiscal conservative, reason-based” libertarian.

I do apologize for burdening you on the checkout line with real-life images of American-style poverty. I know you probably believe the only true starving people in the world have flies buzzing around their eyes while they wallow away, near-lifeless in gutters. Hate to burst the bubble, but those people don’t live in this country. I do. And millions like me.

Millions of people in poverty who fall into three categories. Let’s call them the “lucky” category, since conservatives seem to think people on welfare have hit some sort of jackpot: Those living paycheck to paycheck? They’re a little lucky. Those living unemployment check to unemployment check? They’re a little luckier. Those living 2nd of the month to 2nd of the month? Ding! We’ve hit the jackpot! The 2nd of the month being the time when funds gets electronically deposited onto the EBT card, [at least in NY] for those who’ve never been fortunate enough to hit that $175/month Powerball. I fall into the latter two categories.

But I’ve known people recently — soldiers in the Army — who were in the first and third. They were off fighting in Afghanistan while their wives were at home, buying food at the on-post commissary with food stamps. And nobody bats an eye there, because it’s not uncommon in the military. It’s not uncommon — nor is it shameful. It might be shameful how little service-members are paid, but that’s a separate issue.

The fact remains anyone at a certain income level can find it difficult from time to time to pay for everything. And when you’re poor you learn to make sacrifices. Food shouldn’t be one of them. The whole concept is un-American. People living here, in the greatest country on Earth, with the most abundant resources, should be forced to go hungry because of the intellectual notion of fiscal conservatism and the ideological notion of self-reliance. Are you fucking kidding me?

I didn’t risk my life in Afghanistan so I could come back and watch people go hungry in America. I certainly didn’t risk it so I could come back and go hungry. Anyone who genuinely supports cutting food stamps is not an intellectual or an ideologue — they’re a bully. And nobody likes a bully. Except other bullies.

It’s time for regular Americans to stand up to these bullies. Not cower in the corner, ashamed of needing help. Because if there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that you never know when you’ll be the one in need.

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Responses

  1. Warrioress, I really appriciate you posting this letter in your blog. I am not an Americal, so it is really not my business, but this veteran makes sense to me and his voice should be heard by everyone here in the western world. Thank you.

  2. Interesting. Have you heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps? They were instrumental in building and maintaining state parks during times of peace. Also known as Roosevelt’s Tree Army. It was a much better use of our military.

    The other solution is urban farming. Chagga home gardens and poor inner cities are seeing the benefits of starting community gardens. Free food and an effort towards self-sufficiency, independent of the traditional economy.

  3. W — where did you get this letter. I am just curious?

    _____

    I had a part-time weekend job of doing both psychological and physical screening for soldiers on their return from both Iran and Iraq for several years. I’d travel around to different military bases and meet the soldiers and have long talks with them.

    I also worked in the Navy Hospital in Washington DC for 4 years — the emergency department.

    It is a small majority of soldiers that go into the army because they believe in the actions taken by our government. Indeed many become disillusioned with their government after serving in the military.

    Most go in because it is a job — they can’t find anything better and they hope for skill training. The military deceptively promises these young folks far too much. How long should we take care of these people after they do this job for 2-4 years? I am not sure, but I don’t buy into the “they risked dying for their country” rhetoric. Irani soldiers, Iraqi soldiers and others took the same risks.

    I think we should not lie in the beginning. That would be the first solution I offer. These young men and women can face horrible experiences over there that they never imagined signing up for. They come back, often, with no more skills when they left hoping to be honored for their “service” — and the military feeds this delusion. Instead many of them come back psychologically or physically handicapped, trying to get a job along with everyone else but hoping to be treated differently.

    It is very tough. Teach your kids not to buy into the lies of our government — or of any other government.

  4. As for me and my house, we choose to stand by Jesus and Jason. I spent the first 18 years of my life in poverty so deep and abidng that I doubt some here would have been able to survive it without going crazy. It is very easy to flip the “old finger bird” in the direction of “the least of these” when you have never been poor. However, I can tell you from experience that doing so is one of the gravest acts of ignorance and sin a person can commit because Jesus aligns himself squarely with these people, even to the point of saying in effect that “THEY ARE ME.”

    You can read about my dad and our experiences in poverty in the Labor Day post over on my blog:

    http://contextintn.wordpress.com/

    A conservative organization known as The Heritage Foundation is largely responsible for leading the charge against the poor, hungry, and suffering in our country. It is financed by the kind of people who let men named Lazarus sit in their gateways with open sores licked by dogs.

  5. Sabio,

    I got the letter off of facebook, but it’s been shared by plenty of other sites and reprinted.

    More reading on this topic:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jay-kirell/veteran-food-stamps_b_3963203.html

    http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/09/24/afghanistan-war-veteran-slams-republicans-for-cutting-food-stamps-in-epic-letter/

    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/07/13/dod-5000-military-families-losing-food-stamps.html

    http://www.classwarfareexists.com/35-year-old-us-veteran-i-am-on-food-stamps-because-i-enjoy-not-starving/

    Sabio, you said:

    How long should we take care of these people after they do this job for 2-4 years? I am not sure, but I don’t buy into the “they risked dying for their country” rhetoric. Irani soldiers, Iraqi soldiers and others took the same risks.

    I feel really strongly about those who enlist into the military and thus do buy into “the rhetoric.” I think these men and women shouldn’t even begin to need food stamps. Of course, there are a host of jobs that don’t pay a living wage done by heroic people giving their best to care for our elderly and disabled too. Our priorities are confused in America and we need to fix this.

    I also feel that if dishonesty is uncovered in recruiting for military recruits, that it should be disciplined harshly.

  6. Dover,

    I loved your comment and I will stop over to your blog and read your Labor Day post. The Heritage Foundation, hmm? I had no idea. I’ll investigate it as well. This entire comment of yours is well said. Thanks for stopping over here and sharing.

    It is very easy to flip the “old finger bird” in the direction of “the least of these” when you have never been poor. However, I can tell you from experience that doing so is one of the gravest acts of ignorance and sin a person can commit because Jesus aligns himself squarely with these people, even to the point of saying in effect that “THEY ARE ME.”

  7. Amelie,

    No, I haven’t heard of the Civilian Conservation Corp, but I agree that building parks is an inspiring use of our military. Urban farming sounds lovely! I’ve done a lot of reading about community gardens and we have a lot of that going on right here where I live, San Antonio, TX. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Rautakyy,

    Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts with us, Rautakyy.

  9. “I also feel that if dishonesty is uncovered in recruiting for military recruits, that it should be disciplined harshly.”

    Life is often so sad, and there is a sad story here on the other side of this fence. I worked as a civilian employee in a U.S. Army Recruiting Office during my senior year in high school. The recruiters, who often have a wife and two or three children, are under tremendous pressure to meet numerical recruiting goals established for their offices. The message that is always on the mind of the recruiter is:

    “If you don’t meet your numbers this month Jones, you’ll be toting an M-16 in Helmond Province next month. You and that little family of yours need to keep that in mind. Now make those numbers any way you can.”

  10. Agreed, Dover…
    Greed, selfishness, and all of the non-fruits of the spirit. It’s hell living in this secular world with secular values instead of what Jesus valued. If we were all only united in behaving with one another as Jesus expected us to be, there would be no hungry, poor, murdered, etc.

    Well, I guess that’s why God called it “Heaven,” isn’t it? Apparently we cannot achieve this kind of thing without the help of the Holy Spirit. Humanity’s baser nature isn’t loving; it’s all about self, at least since the fall of man, apparently it is.

  11. In response to George Eynon ‘s letter (“Fraud fight good,†Page B13, Letters, Sunday) regarding the missed $1 billion in sales to grocery store chains in the state of Texas, if a person living in poverty cannot purchase food through the food stamp program they will choose to utilize local food pantries more often to get food. These donations often come from large grocery store chains like H-E-B or Randalls. So instead of food being “bought†the food is “donated,†leading to a loss of sales for the grocery store chains. As stated by Kevin Concannon of the United States Department of Agriculture in “Texas must step up on food stamps†(Page B10, Dec. 13), for every $5 in new food stamp benefits, $9.20 is generated locally through increased purchases.


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