May 13, 2011

15 Minutes of Fame

"It usually takes me two or three days to prepare an impromptu speech." 
 Mark Twain 


I am a shy person. It may not come across that way in blog-land, where I can be as verbose as I want to be, but I am horrible at parties and would probably pass out if I ever had to give a speech. So as soon as a local news station contacted me for an interview, I regretted ever sending them an email. My palms began to sweat, and I thought to myself, "Erika, why on earth did you open your mouth?"

The reason I sent the email was simple- like I wrote about last week, the Illinois National Guardsmen who were activated to help with flooding won't be paid anytime soon. The current estimate is 2 weeks from the end of the mission...and I believe the mission is officially wrapping this weekend. As I've said, this means no civilian paycheck from their regular jobs during the time they're away, plus a delay of pay from the Guard (and actually, this money comes from the state, so I blame the governor)- all of this equals a month or more of no income for 400 Guard members and their families. This is absolutely unacceptable to me. It wouldn't be tolerated in any other career, so why should it be in the military? These men, who the governor praised for being courageous combat veterans, are simply being forgotten, and I'm angry about it.

And so, I wrote people. I wrote all the news channels in town. I wrote the local paper. I wrote the representative for our district, and I most certainly wrote the governor. When one of the channels wanted to do an interview with me earlier this week, I agreed. I was terrified of being on TV, to be honest with you, and I was worried that Sky could get repercussions for me speaking out- but we talked about it, I texted a friend to calm my beating heart, and I opened the door for the reporter and her cameraman.

I'm not going to post the interview on this blog, but I will say that I think it went relatively well. I expressed my frustration and got my point across, and Millie even made a very glamorous cameo in a pretty sun dress. After the interview, I was able to get in contact with a Major who was quoted in the story. He passed my information on to a few people, and I've been able to fill out some applications for assistance to help with our bills until Sky gets paid for his duty. I'm grateful for that, but I'm most grateful that I was able to spread the word about the way these soldiers have to sacrifice so much to help others. I hope I was able to convey the fact that the National Guard is not "Army Lite"- my husband and my brother have been to war, wearing the same uniform and doing the same things as active Army men. They have helped stateside with local towns. They have sacrificed their civilian job time to help, and I believe they deserve a faster, more efficient way to be paid. I can say that I most definitely felt like a military spouse when calling our utility companies this week, explaining to them that we would not be able to pay our bills until the state pays us.

And that is the end to my long soapbox speech. Another reporter called me tonight, wanting to do an interview for another station. And though I am dreading it just as much as the first one, I'll be back on the TV screen to share my story. I think it's one that needs to be told.

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12 kind comments from you:

Victoria said...

never give up the fight your your husband, just like he wont give up the fight for our country.

Marine Wife Unplugged said...

That's way cool. Good for you girl, even with being shy. :)

jamila said...

Woohoo! Way to go girl! I'd love to see the video!

Consider The Lilies said...

way to go girl friend! speak out in defense of our guardsmen! drives me crazy when people call my hubby a weekend warrior. awesome awesome awesome is all I can say! :D

Dolli-Mama said...

I'm so proud of you. The interview was awesome, and I'm glad you are speaking up, because you are not the only family who is experiencing this, I'm sure.

You go girl!

Clearbluewater3 said...

way to go! That is so exciting! I'm so proud that you're willing to stand up despite your beating heart! It is a great skill to be your husband and your family's advocate!

Mowenackie said...

Congrats on standing up! I'm sure it was nerve-wracking. I had an interview with a small town newspaper when T got back from Afghanistan and I was nervous - I can't imagine being in front of a camera. Good for you.

There are all kinds of issues that make Guard life difficult. I've been thinking a lot about this lately - since it's been affecting my life rather profoundly - and am working on a blog post on the subject. I don't think many outside the Guard are aware of the complications that can come with trying to lead a "double life". Thanks for speaking out!

Beka said...

wow. you're amazing.
i'd be freaked out to be on an interview....whew!
you need to post a link on your fb or something; i want to see it!
but yes--definitely something that needs to be brought to light, something we need to know, something that needs to be protested and helped.

Uncork and Unwined said...

That was/is so very courageous of you to do, regardless of your shyness. You did what many would not- stood up for yourself, your family and your rights. Congrats on that and I hope it makes a difference!

Ashley D. said...

You go, girl! You are so brave to share your story and speak up! I hope that all your efforts truly make a difference and that they realize that military spouses aren't always just going to sit back and keep quiet about issues that not only effect their spouses, but their families. Keep it up, girl!

Erin said...

I am so HAPPY that you spoke up and did what you did! We didn't get paid all the time during our last deployment. Once, we didn't get paid two times in row. When my husband went on leave after his return, the military owed us $4,000. That is not an exaggeration, that is the actual, dollar amount and we were told that we would get it when we get it.

At the beginning of the deployment they did it too, and we ended up having to contact the NMCRS to get a no interest loan to be able to pay our house payment. It was a horrible experience.

Thank you for speaking up about this type of stuff. Thank you for getting the word out that this stuff should not be happening. Maybe next time it happens to us, I will do the same. :)

heart like mine said...

alright, lady, that's awesome! i'm glad you're standing up, not only for yourself, but for all the other military families who are dealing with the same situation. especially considering you were stepping out of your comfort zone, that says what a woman of character you are by saying what needs to be said, even if it makes you uncomfortable. keep it up! :)

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