Our Military’s Shame: So Many On Food Stamps
More military families needed food stamps in 2013 than at any other time. Here are families separated because of unnecessary wars we’re fighting, families sacrificing for their countries, and they need help putting food on their tables. We should be ashamed of ourselves for being a country that allows this to happen. More than $100 million in food stamp spending took place at military grocery stores in 2013.
Food stamp usage at the stores has more than quadrupled since 2007 as the recession compounded the already difficult financial situation faced by military families. New soldiers with a child and a spouse earn $20,000 per year in pay, according to CNN Money, and the frequent relocations and disruptions inherent to the lifestyle of a military family make it harder for military spouses to find jobs and bring in supplementary income. The unemployment rate for young military spouses was 30 percent in 2012. Retired military servicemen and women who joined up after 9/11 have a 10 percent unemployment rate, which also contributes to the elevated food stamp figures at DOD commissaries, and nearly a million working-age veterans lived in poverty in 2010.
Despite elevated need, veterans have not been spared from the successive waves of food stamp cuts imposed by Congress in recent months. The automatic cuts that came into effect in November took a bite out of the food budgets for 900,000 U.S. veterans. Over 486,000 of those veteran food stamp recipients live in states affected by the most recent cut to the program enacted as part of the farm bill, according to figures from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.