Maria Meacham’s story began during a trip to the Nation’s Capital in May 2011. Prior to arriving in D.C., the Meachams visited with their son, Paul, in Kentucky. During that visit, their son invited several of his friends who served with him to a barbecue. The Meachams heard first-hand accounts about living conditions for the troops in Afghanistan. They heard that the troops live without fresh water and generators. They heard about the daily realities of combat.
The stories they heard remained present in their minds as they drove to D.C.
On Thursday, May 26, the Meachams went on a tour of Congress. They decided to take a rest and watch the afternoon session in the gallery of the House of Representatives. They were about to leave the gallery when Rep. Kurt Schrader [D-Or] rose to speak about a 2003 amendment to reduce battle pay by $180.00 a month. Rep. Schrader sought an amendment to have that pay cut repealed resulting in a $180 per month pay increase for our men and women in combat.
The Meachams decided to stay and listen to the speech. Congressman Schrader went on to speak of the reality that soldiers were facing many repeated deployments and they could use the extra pay. In rebuttal, Howard McKeon [R-Ca] spoke about budgetary concerns, denying Congressman Schrader’s suggestion that funds could be saved in other areas of the Defense budget to pay our troops.
Then it was time for the vote during which the Meachams heard an anemic yes from the Democrats and a very loud and energetic no from the Republican majority. This was followed by self-congratulations including pats on the back. They also saw a couple of Republicans, Rep Ben Quayle and Rep David Schweikert, exchanging high fives.
The Meachams described the high fives after the vote as “hurtful” and “insensitive.” Perhaps there was additional insult to injury since the two Congressman who high fived each other as if they just won a Basketball game, were representatives of the Meachams’ state, Arizona.
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