U.S. Military Families In Need

Christina Roberts

At a recent march for military families, it seems everybody in Lacey, Wash. turned out to support the troops at nearby Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, both morally and financially.

John McClatchey, who donated $20, says, "It's not much, but I know every little bit counts."

As CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports, they raised $15,000 for military families in need.

"They're out there in Iraq and money is tight for those families," says Gary Benton.

At the Miramar Marine Air Station near San Diego where the movie "Top Gun" was filmed, some families are hitting rock bottom.

"It's not payday yet and I've got three kids at home," says Gloria Mendez. "(It's) time to feed them and the Navy doesn't pay enough for what we have to live here in San Diego."

So, some 500 military families come to the Food Locker on base every month for free groceries, donated by stores, the military and the Boy Scouts.

"Without us a lot of these families wouldn't make it," says Rita Riddick, co-chairman of the Food Locker.

The families agree they need the help.

"Yeah, actually we do," says Christina Roberts, a military wife. "That's the sad part about it.

You hear the same thing from families in every branch of the military, because enlisted men and women can earn as little as $1,104.00 a month.

And with the National Guard serving longer tours, their families are going longer without civilian salaries. Even with housing and medical benefits many military families, especially in expensive cities, are losing the battle to make ends meet.

"We're considered below the poverty line," says Mendez. "Poverty's here, we're below it."

Still most are good soldiers, as proud to serve as their spouses. Shalmarie Ryan's husband is in Iraq.

"No, we're not going to complain about it," she says. "It's our life, that's what we married."

But at the Food Locker, volunteers see more and more service families struggling in silence.

"We have young men and women laying down their lives day after day," says Riddick. "They're not making enough. It's not fair. It's not right."

Many sacrifice in time of war, some more than others.