by Ginger Miller
This post originally appeared in the The Hill on May 16. The 2018 Farm Bill, H.R. 2, failed to pass the House on May 18, but on June 22, the House is scheduled to vote for a second time on this bill.
Too many veterans suffer hardship in silence. Just like I did. We are trained not to complain, to be self-sufficient, and to put the needs of others before our own.
The proposed House farm bill, the Agriculture & Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), will only create more suffering for veterans by weakening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and forcing veterans and others to make impossible choices between food, health care, and shelter. It is time to speak up and act.
Nearly 1.5 million veterans, in every part of the country, benefit from SNAP.
The farm bill as written would require SNAP recipients “to find a job or attend job training classes for about 20 hours each week, or lose their benefits,” according to NPR.
Veterans are experiencing hunger at what should be considered shocking rates. I have been one of those vets. During a difficult time in my life, I found myself homeless, raising a young son and caring for my husband — a disabled Marine Corps veteran. I constantly worried about whether we would have enough food to eat. Fortunately, SNAP was there to help bridge the gap, avert hunger, and provide sustenance for my family.
Twenty years later, I’ve gone from being homeless to being a White House “champion for change” as the founder of Women Veterans Interactive (WVI), and I know that my experience with hunger is not an isolated one.
A recent study found that 27.6 percent of female veterans were food insufficient. The women in this study did not have adequate food, due to lack of money and other resources, and experienced worse health outcomes as a result.
According to the Food Research & Action Center, SNAP helps families put food on the table, improves health, and promotes work (pdf), and is available to help veterans combat food insecurity.
The solution to lifting veterans and others out of hunger and poverty is to reach more eligible people with SNAP, increase the amount of SNAP benefits for people who need them, and support well-paying jobs that provide real opportunity for people to support themselves and their families.
By creating time limits, expanding bureaucratic work requirements, cutting SNAP benefits, and increasing administrative burdens on states and families struggling to find quality work, put food on the table, and pay for other necessities, the House farm bill undermines — not increases — families’ economic self-sufficiency and food security.
As a vet, I am still fighting to protect my country from harm. H.R. 2 not only will harm veterans struggling with hunger, but working families earning low wages, seniors, children, and people with disabilities across the country. Urge your representatives to vote “No” on this bill (pdf).
Ginger Miller is president and CEO of Women Veterans Interactive, based in Washington, DC. The organization is working to address the unique, and often unrecognized, challenges facing our nation’s 2.2 million female veterans as they return to civilian life. WVI provides outreach and support services to more than 2,500 women veterans across the country.