Over the weekend, we spent time at our very favorite getaway, Oscoda, Michigan. Traveling with my spouse has some perks, one of which is access to the facilities and great people at the VFW where he is a lifetime member.
The people at the VFW are terrific. One of our new friends is a retired VP from a Detroit area bank. I could sit and talk to her – and the rest of the women – for as long as they would have me. They tell great stories – stories of sacrifice, hardship and struggle, especially during a time when the country didn’t particularly appreciate the contributions of our military members and families.
She, along with other widows and widowers are grateful for the lifetime medical benefits they have because of their spouses’ military service. But get them talking further and we find a miserable rule – if they remarry, they lose their medical benefits. They can’t afford to lose benefits. So they don’t remarry. Some of them co-habitat; others are resigned to the single life. They aren’t necessarily lonely but they don’t have a full time partner with whom to spend the twilight years. Each tells the story differently – some pragmatically, others wistfully.
It is a sad state of affairs. It doesn’t seem fair. So when we talk about removing benefit eligibility from employment, let’s make sure it’s universal.
[a brief addendum – if you haven’t served in the military, aren’t a family member or don’t know anyone how has served, you can’t imagine the sacrifices. If you want to know, ask me -22 years of experience. Family contributions are significant. And our service men and women aren’t overpaid]