Friday, October 7, 2011

Budget Cuts and Long Lines

     We operate under a fairly strict budget.  I wish it was because we were trying to put money aside for something, but it's really just out of necessity for survival.  Last week, Jeremiah received word his pay is going to decrease by $200 a month because of the governmental budget cuts, so needless to say we are reworking the budget and looking for anywhere we could possibly cut back.  I'm trying not to be bitter. They decide to cut back the pay of the men and women who defend our freedoms, whose families sacrifice day in and day out, while a majority of the politicians in Washington enjoy a lifestyle of luxury.  How many of them are willing to take pay cuts?  On the other hand, the sensible side of me understands our country is in need of major financial review, and we have to cut back somewhere; it's just hard when it affects you personally.  After going over our budget, we've realized we could save nearly $400 a month by living on base.  We have moved four times in the last year and a half, so I'm not looking forward to the possibility of packing again but it would be worth it to not be so financially strapped.
     While we know we could save money by moving into base housing, we also see the need for our grocery budget to expand.  Emerson is getting bigger and eating more, and with us expecting our second child, mac-n-cheese won't work to provide the little one growing inside the nutrients it needs.  A friend suggested we apply for WIC.  I figured we would make too much money, but we don't; we actually qualify!  This isn't something that I would normally be so open about by my experience in the application process was eye opening.
     I first attempted to call the WIC office on base.  I left a few messages but none of them were ever returned.  After a few failed attempts there, I thought I'd give the county health department a try.  They don't take appointments over the phone so I gathered all the documents I needed and headed into town.  The waiting room was just as I expected, filled to the brim with pregnant women and mothers attempting to keep their small children entertained while they patiently waited to be helped.  I entered the office and asked what i needed to do.  A lady replied, "Oh you need an appointment, just put your name on the list, and have a seat out in the waiting room.  We'll call you in when we're ready."  After 45 minutes of waiting, they finally called my name.  We went in, sat down, and the lady asked for my name, address, birthday, and social security number.  I gave them to her, and in return, she handed me an appointment card and said, "We've got you set up for an appointment on October 5 at 1pm.  I told her thank you and left disappointed and frustrated.  I had every piece of documentation with me that I needed but would have to come back in a couple weeks regardless.  I told my sister-in-law that it's easy to see how people get stuck in the welfare system because even if they were trying to work, you have to take off a half day to get an appointment and then another day for your actual appointment,  not to  mention your follow up appointments you have every 3 months.
     On Wednesday, I gathered up all the documents I needed and headed back to the WIC office.  We waited for another 45 minutes and finally got called in.  While she was taking my information, she informed me this appointment was only for me and in order to get Emerson enrolled also, we would have to make a separate appointment.   GRRRRRR!  I was so frustrated but knew there was nothing I could do other than make him an appointment for a later date.  The earliest appointment we could get is four weeks away.  So, I set up the appointment and continued giving her my information.  She then told me to go back to the waiting room and another lady down the hall would be calling my name.  I wasn't sure what the next lady was going to do but I noticed every time she came out and called someone's name, she was changing her latex gloves.  Shortly, she called my name.  We went back into a small room where she weighed and measured me, asked me a series of health related questions and checked my iron levels.  From there, she asked me to take a clip board and go into another waiting room until my name was called.  I, along with several other women, was wondering what I was waiting on now.  Finally, a nutritionist called me back to her office to ask yet another set of questions.  When I finished there, she told me to go back to the main waiting room and listen for my name to be called.  Within just a few minutes, I heard my name.  I was approved to be on WIC and received a quick mini-lesson on how to use the vouchers.  When I left, I was slightly frustrated with this screwed up governmental system, but I was also very thankful for a little help with groceries.  In a few more weeks, I'll take a half day off work and spend another afternoon waiting.