Currently, between SSDI, the caregiver stipend and my husband’s VA rating, we receive more money than when my husband was in Iraq. My husband is worth more broken than he was whole, financially. I often make jokes about this, about the perks of being married to a disabled veteran. I do not have to work. Of course, I’m not sure I can work because of the time involved making sure my husband is functioning, but I don’t have to.
I can set aside money for a trip to Europe next summer. Of course, one of the reasons we’re going to Europe next summer is because my husband’s brain condition seems to be degenerative and I want him to have the best possible life he’ll never remember — but still, a trip to Europe.
I love my husband and I love our life. I do not believe there is any amount of money that will ever cover what he personally lost in war. I do not believe that any of the men he served with will ever be adequately compensated for the cost of war. Every cent we receive is not only hard-earned tax money, it is also blood money and it is also a payment for our silence.
We have told our service members that we depend on them, and we have left many of them in a situation where they are dependent on us. Have we taught them to be ashamed of being dependent? Have we left them no choice?
I will not allow my husband to be ashamed of our reliance on government funds. I will not allow him to lose pride because I expect our country to take care of him as he promised to take care of our country. I will not be silent.
Marie Mulling lives in Austin, Texas, and has relatives in Norman.