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You are here News Military VOICES On Thanksgiving, many military families sit down to an empty table. It's unconscionable.

VOICES On Thanksgiving, many military families sit down to an empty table. It's unconscionable.

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Military needy at Thanksgiving

Last week, I decided to beat the Thanksgiving rush by shopping at my local grocery store outside Washington, D.C., where my active-duty spouse is stationed. As I inched closer to the checkout stand, a pit grew in my stomach.

I had forgotten to check if I had enough money for groceries.

Our finances have been tighter since I left my government job a few months ago. Until now, we did not need a joint account, so we kept putting off a trip to the bank.

We are between orders, waiting to learn where we will move next and when. These critical missing details make finding a new position difficult.

So like many military families whose spouses experience employment-related challenges, we are now relying on one income. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics does not regularly track the military spouse unemployment rate, but surveys show that it's about 20%.

As the cashier scanned each item, I rushed to retabulate prices in my head. Was my math correct? Would I have enough to cover the bill? Which items could we do without? The final beep of the checkout gun confirmed what I suspected. I was over budget. Darn, that pesky dyscalculia always made math tough.

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