Weird Math: 1 Percent versus 1 Percent

MFSO Member Paula Rogovin reflects on Occupy Wall St.

On Saturday, October 8, 2011, members of Military Families Speak Out stood alongside members of Veterans For Peace and thousands of other people at Occupy Wall Street. We were so happy to see so many people from so many walks of life. Here was a place where the messages like the ones we carried: Support our troops, bring them home NOW! were part of the outcry from the many thousands at OWS. Our presence as veterans and military families was very well received. Yes, we are part of that 99%.

Being part of that 99% has been a life-long experience for me. I’ve been a New York City public school teacher for 38 years. We, members of the United Federation of Teachers, have marched and demanded over the years that the City stop the cuts and offer fair wages – only to see mayor after mayor do everything possible to keep our wages down while the Chancellor makes over $250,000 and non-union employees get huge raises. Testing companies, the book publishers, and the tech industry profits are going up.

Two weeks ago, we saw the layoff of over 700 workers – workers who are desperately needed at our schools.

Strangely, however, members of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) are part of the 99%, but we are also part of the 1%. How could that be? MFSO is a national organization with over 4000 members whose loved ones are active duty in the military.

“Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has been on active military duty at any given time during the past decade.” (Washington Post. 10/5/11)

Military families have seen our loved ones serve multiple deployments, often with little dwell time between the deployments. We have seen over 6282 of our loved ones killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of us have seen our loved ones wounded. We have seen our loves ones suffer amputations, traumatic brain injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and poisoning from Depleted Uranium and other toxins from US weapons. We have seen families torn apart by the traumas of these wars.

Our 1% is suffering directly from the wars imposed by the other 1% – the military industrial complex, the oil companies, big business – in collusion with many members of Congress who take multi-millions from industry lobbyists in exchange for keeping these wars going and going.

Our 1% wants to tell that other 1%, including many members of Congress:  End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bring the troops and contractors home NOW. Take care of the troops when they get here. Bring the war dollars home for our communities – for jobs, education, health care, housing, and other services we need so badly. Meet the demands of the 99%.

— Paula Rogovin, of Teaneck, is with Military Families Speak Out, Bergen County chapter