Soldiers of Misfortune

Soldiers and Prisoners

Contrary to this meme’s assertion, most soldiers are offered four meals a day, whether at home or deployed. Besides the obvious breakfast, lunch, and dinner, soldiers have the option of a midnight meal. In some cases, the soldiers receive hot chow specially prepared; other times, the meals take the form of an MRE, or meal, ready to eat. An MRE is a lightweight food box meant to serve as a single ration. The boxes carry different food items wrapped in plastic/metal pouches. They can be prepared and consumed quickly, and they’re relatively easy to transport, hence the appeal to the military (if not the soldier.)

In 2013 some American bases in Afghanistan stopped serving hot chow at breakfast; any soldier wishing to eat breakfast would have to make do with an MRE. They could also supplement their breakfast with cold items from the chow hall (cereal, e.g.). According to Stars and Stripes, the Pentagon explained that the change had nothing to do with budget cuts. In truth, some of the bases in Afghanistan were about to be turned over to local control. In anticipation of the drawdown, the military began to scale back certain logistical functions, including the preparation of hot meals at breakfast. The Pentagon emphasized that soldier nutrition was of utmost concern; nobody was proposing that soldiers get by with fewer meals.

Due to work shifts, some soldiers were not able to receive as many hot meals as they had before the drawdown began. I certainly understand their frustration, but at no point has the military cited budget cuts as the reason.

Now prison food has always been a matter of contention; plenty of questions have been asked. Some folks would probably be happy to starve prisoners, but the Bill of Rights (you know, that document that protects gun rights, plus nine things that conservatives seldom care about), explicitly forbids cruel and unusual punishment. In case you’re unsure, most people consider intentional starvation to be cruel and/or unusual. So we will continue to feed the prisoners, but what kind of food will they be getting?

That depends on where they’re incarcerated, of course, but the consensus seems to be that it stinks. I mean that literally. Consider the testimony of one Tito Valdez, Jr, a long-term guest of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Warning: some NSFW language). Valdez describes the food – even the hot food – as indistinguishable and of dubious origin. To supplement the inmates’ chow time options, some prisons have a commissary from which inmates can purchase snacks using the meager money they earn by working in the prison. Some prisons even prohibit an inmates’ relatives from bringing fresh food; instead, they can donate money for the inmate to use to purchase prison-approved goods. The good life, indeed.

This meme is a weak effort to stir up the right-wing gripe base. It has all the hallmarks of a conservative gripe meme: it starts with a warped assertion that bears only a passing resemblance to the truth, and from there it leaves you to draw your own conclusions about what liberal, namby-pamby, political-correctness-obsessed organization is responsible for this obvious travesty of justice. Welcome to the club, gripe meme: like prison food, you are virtually indistinguishable from all the other gripe memes that came before you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s