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Coping With Low Pay in the Military

June 04, 2003

Re "Scouts' Honor: Kids Come to Marine Families' Aid," June 1: Here it is more than 30 years later and I cannot stop crying. Near the end of the Vietnam War, my husband was stationed at Ft. Carson, Colo. Near the end of every month we ran low on food and were out of money, so, with no other resources, I carried my daughter and went to the local fast-food restaurant for lunch -- other people's lunch. You know, the leftovers. Usually what their kids didn't eat. Sometimes someone would notice and buy my daughter a hamburger, saying there was a mistake in their order and they had an extra hamburger that they'd just have to throw away. So I would take it. We both knew the truth.

My husband never knew I did this. Dinner at the end of the month was frequently meatball soup. This was made from beef bones and water, carrots, celery and six to eight small meatballs, which were sometimes more bread than meat. Bread was 34 cents a loaf. Peanut butter was cheap, so we ate a lot of that, but still could not afford these items at the end of the month.

These girls and boys are doing a wonderful thing for the families of our troops. It is a crime that it is needed. It is a crime that we do not pay our military personnel in the lower ranks enough to house and feed their families. Nothing has changed in 30 years, except our awareness of their plight. Thank you, Girl and Boy Scouts.

Suzanne Brugman

Whittier

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