The Importance of Being Liberal & Serving a Military Community
A little over 2 and a half years ago I accidentally started a business. I decided, through my private practice, to provide some services for local military personnel. It blossomed into a full-fledged program, with employees, an advisory board, business and marketing plans - all the bells and whistles.
The program, RFM, provides local service members, active and retired, and their families with services and support options not covered by Tricare. It's primarily designed to serve that community by aiding with stress management, pain management, and mental health support. I could talk forever about all the innovative ways we support those with high stress lifestyles, but I'll spare you (for now, at least).
I started this program to provide affordable and needed care especially for our active duty service members - soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines. I was married for 5 years (plus a few on the front end, pre-nuptials) to a nuclear engineer who was in the USN submarine service. I lived the life 100%. Dixie cups, dress blues, deployments, learning to iron various uniforms, changing duty stations, rotating shift work... all to serve queen and country. No, hang on. Not that. All to serve the people of this country and fight to preserve the liberty of all. That's the one.
I'm also a ridiculously vocal liberal, socialist, feminist, hippie chick. I participate in marches and protests, most recently the March for Science. I wore red on January 21 to support women everywhere since I was unable to join in The Women's March. I very loudly and proudly supported and voted for Bernie Sanders in this past election (I still have his campaign sign by my house). I participate in environmental groups and clean ups. I join in community political action and letter writing campaigns. I donate to science and the arts. I support Planned Parenthood and healthcare for all, definitely including women. I rant about climate change and the absolute necessity of science-based policy making at least once a day.
It has more than once been pointed out to me that this "me-ness" doesn't jive with my running a (very successful and quickly growing) business specifically working with a stereotypically conservative, republican demographic. I suggest that it does jive. Here's why.
The people who are serving in our military are just that - they're people. They're people who work insane hours, deal with physical, mental, and emotional stressors that most people can't fully imagine. They give 100% every single day. They have their lives uprooted regularly, and they often face very real danger. The rates of PTSD, anxiety, depression, other mental health disorders, as well as physical struggles and chronic pain conditions are ridiculously high amongst service members and their dependents compared to their civilian equivalents.
Sure, they volunteered for their job. But think about it - who do you know who didn't volunteer for their job? No one, because that's not how jobs work in the 21st century. You may not particularly like your job, but you still applied for it, accepted it, and stay in it. But I digress. Some people do volunteer for military service because they believe in the war effort, or have ideologies that I personally disagree with. But lots of people enlist because it's one of the only ways they can afford education, or because they need a way out of a bad home situation, or because they want to fight to try and create a better country for everyone, or a thousand other reasons.
Their reason for joining the service doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter whether I agree with them, or support their employer. The fact that we disagree about politics, or economics, or anything else does not make them less human. As a crunchy liberal gal, I fight daily for equality, for everyone to be treated fairly, to get the care and support they need, and I try to provide aid in whatever way possible. Political differences aren't the exception to the "everyone deserves to be cared for" rule.
It's important that I am a strong, liberal woman who serves a military populace because caring for our service members is not a Republican issue. It's not a conservative issue. It's a human issue. As long as we are providing highly stressful, traumatic, and dangerous lines of work, we also need to work hard to meet all the needs of those whose lives are impacted by those jobs.
Because we are a community. A national community. A global community. I strongly believe that we absolutely cannot allow ourselves to be divided by race, gender, politics, or religion. We don't have to agree. We can even argue! But differing affiliations, opinions, preferences, and points of view should NOT stand in the way of providing the best possible care for everyone we encounter.
I repeat, for emphasis. It is important that I am a politically liberal person serving a military community because caring for our service members, active or retired, is not a Republic issue, or a conservative issue. It is a human issue.