Pagan Army Mom: My journey's thoughts and benchmarks
Over the last three years, our son has gone from an urban homeschooler to fulfilling his dream as a Soldier. It's been a wild ride, and there is so much more awaiting him. As a mom, I keep tabs on what's going on in the world, what he may be going through, what he may endure and how it may affect the rest of us civilians. And as a Pagan, I also like to learn from others who are or have served to understand their perspectives, victories and struggles. From what I learn, I share with others and have been faithfully doing so every week.
What is your greatest hope for 2014?
As 2013 draws to a close, there’s a good deal to reflect upon. Many members of our Community have passed on, relationships have changed and babies have been born. Within the military, quite a few changes have occurred as well. In February, the retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta extended gay benefits to service members and their families as best he could due to DOMA still being on the books at the time. And when DOMA was repealed in June, the Pentagon was able to use the words marriage and spouse with the inclusion of gay and lesbian couples. Sadly, it took until last month overseas military installations were open for things such as ration privileges due to where they were stationed, such as in South Korea. And too, while many more states, even Utah, are now marriage equality states, it is still not enough to make marriage equality federally recognized as the law of the land (read: Constitutional amendment).
Also, I would be amiss if I failed to mention other forms of equality within the military, especially pertaining to women. Not only are women open to train for full-fledged combat positions (though we won’t see women in direct Infantry until probably 2016), but also, rape and assaults within the military are finally being taken seriously. Men and women who have been attacked are reporting at an all-time high, which may actually be a good thing for a couple of reasons: For one thing, victims feel justice will actually be served instead wrapped in red tape, so they are reporting them. And for another, the reports that do occur are actually making it onto official ledgers to be counted.
For our veterans however, pension trimming is still in the works. While it’s true the compensation is bloated, as people live longer and more families have dealt with unfathomable losses, it is my opinion those who were promised cost of living increases should be grandfathered in. That’s what people signed up for. Yes, veterans are able to retire before their 40th birthdays, which doesn’t look good to the bean counters on paper, but the 20 (and more!) years these men and women served are deserving of every penny. And I say that across the board, even for those who since have moved on to lucrative civilian careers or even won the lottery. It’s no different than Social Security; you put into it, you get out of it, whether or not you can afford to live without it.
Overall, I am satisfied with the progresses that have been made, and, make no mistake, these changes are coming rapidly. I would like to see this momentum carried on through 2014 in avalanche speed for overall equality and fairness. My hope for 2014, besides the aforementioned, is to see Pagans joining the ranks of military chaplaincy, which has been discussed at length for several years. I have mentioned this many times before on Warriors & Kin, and with the efforts of so many people including Patrick McCollum and Circle Sanctuary, perhaps I can be writing this article next year congratulating those who have been accepted for enlistment.
I have asked others within the Pagan Community what their hopes are for 2014, and here is what they had to say:
As a member of the LGBT community and a Navy vet, I have been pleasantly surprised to see the military leading the Pride Parade on the way to equality. I would like to see this forward thinking continue into and beyond 2014. – Marty Townsend
Being a wife of a now former Marine, my wish for 2014 is to have all military members know how much they are appreciated, to the injured vets a quick and speedy recovery, and to all of those serving overseas a joyous homecoming. – Faith Ham
A chance for each of us to see real significant improvement in our daily lives, so that we are each in a better situation and better able to help one another. – Star Foster
What are your hopes? Please feel free to construct your own thoughts and share. And yes, I do indeed thank you for your service and sacrifice. It is always an honor and privilege to learn from you, share with you and yes, including at the day job renting apartments, work alongside you, too! Take care and many blessings to you and yours. And, may 2014 be a healthy and successful one for you all.
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