Sometimes, when we’re tired, frustrated, or lonely, military families feel that no one outside our military world could possibly understand our lives. And if they can’t understand us, there’s no way they could possibly know how to support us.
We, the 1 percent of the Nation’s population who serve or have a family member who serves, look at the 99 percent and ask “Don’t you know we’re fighting a war—on your behalf?”
We suspect there are supporters among that 99 percent, but struggle to find them.
We lost one of those champions on March 4. Richard “Dick” Steinberg was a businessman whose company, S&K Sales, helped companies sell products at military commissaries. But Dick wasn’t interested only in selling things at the commissaries—he wanted to make sure those products were sold at the best prices possible. Why? Because he understood how much commissary savings meant to military families struggling to make ends meet.
In an email to me less than a week before he died, Dick denounced the proposed budget cuts to the commissaries because they would decrease the current 30 percent savings to only 10 percent. He wrote:
“Commissaries are about the savings!” When savings disappear, so will the commissaries.”
Years in the business of selling to the commissaries taught Dick—even more than his stint in the Air Force—about the challenges military families face. So, twice a year, Dick, his colleagues, and business partners at S&K Sales created promotions that would feature even lower prices and they would donate some of the proceeds from those promotions to charities supporting military families. For the last four years, the National Military Family Association received that support. We’re grateful for the grocery savings the promotions provided to the military families, which topped $5 million last year alone. We’re also grateful for the donations we received, which have helped us reach out to support families, send military kids to our Operation Purple® camps, and speak up on behalf of military families.
Dick was a patriot who valued the service of our military members and their families and always looked for ways to support them. He believed in us and in all military families and in the responsibility all Americans have to those who serve our Nation. He was hiring military spouses and veterans before everyone else figured out how valuable they could be as employees. He fought with determination to keep the commissaries strong and to protect the savings so important to military families. In his last days, he cheered us on, telling us to “keep up the good fight” for military families. His regret? That he wouldn’t be around to “man the barricades” on their behalf.
Military families may not know the name Dick Steinberg, but their lives are better because of him. All of us at the National Military Family Association will miss him and are grateful to his family for sharing him with us.