Military wives: My life with defense cuts

The Pentagon is shrinking the Army to its pre-World War II size. The brunt of overall Defense cuts is being felt by military families. Housing allowance and pay raise cuts only make it worse. 5 military wives share their stories, in their own words, edited for clarity.

My son thought dad lived in my cell phone

  • Name: Cynthia Fichthorn
  • Spouse's military service: Army National Guard, served in Egypt
  • Number of kids: 1 and another due in April
  • Home: Towson, Md.

When I heard about the first government shutdown (in 2011), I was so scared. I remember thinking I've got a one-year-old baby and my husband is deployed: "What if we don't get paid? What will I do?"

My son is autistic. He needs a lot of therapy. Being a stay-at-home mom is important for me to take care of him. Tricare (military health care) has been good to us. But it hasn't been easy. It's difficult finding doctors and therapists who take Tricare.

My husband was deployed to Egypt when my son was six months old. My son literally thought he lived in my cell phone. We'd say, "Where's Daddy?" and he'd run and get the phone.

When Congress agreed to cut cost-of-living for retirees, we realized that could be us. My husband can retire in 10 years. My son will be 13 and my unborn baby would be 9. We would have lost $84,000 over his lifetime, which could put the kids through college. (Congress later reversed the pension increase cuts for those currently serving.)

  @jenliberto - Last updated March 12 2014 06:58 PM ET

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