Election season has passed, and a new administration is getting ready to take office. That means it’s time for you to take stock of our military capabilities, troops and their families. Yes, the U.S. military is a huge organization and encompasses so much.
However, please take a minute to listen to us, to me, to find out what we want and need from you, right now and for the next 4 or so years.
First, take a hard look at the budget.
Actually look at it with a critical, non-partisan eye. Is there a place where we could trim a little bit of fat without reducing force readiness and family support?
We know that this department has become a huge and growing part of the annual budget. And we also know that something probably needs to change. Please try to do this judiciously, cutting or reducing funding for the (many) redundant portions of the budget while preserving those parts that serve a major purpose in our lives.
We don’t want military funding at the expense of other services we depend on, like education and other programs that serve the general population.
We use these, too. We want them funded and functional.
Next, we need more than lip service about your support.
It’s all well and good to “support the troops” in your speeches and press conferences, but will you actually follow through? A great first step is making sure that our equipment is funded for proper maintenance. With this, include money for adequate training on the equipment. If you want troops ready at a moment’s notice, then they need to be able to access perfectly running equipment AND know how to use it.
Cutting corners here can lead to deadly accidents.
Our fighting force is now a family. That means spouses and kids who depend on the military for both financial and lifestyle stability. If you cut programs that help support military families, you will quickly draw our ire and disdain. This includes medical care, employment programs, child care facilities, commissaries and family readiness programs.
If you want the troops to be ready to go, the whole family needs to be prepared and supported. When those on the homefront feel unstable, that deployed service member can’t do his or her job well.
Don’t forget the veterans, either.
For years now, we have watched the endless saga of corruption and mismanagement at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hospitals and VA health care facilities have endless waits, leaving many in the lurch. These waits have added extra stress to those suffering from mental and physical health conditions.
Take this department to task and shape it up. Get rid of practices or personnel that are costing lives every day and streamline the process to receive care.
Veterans wrote a blank check to our nation and were willing to sacrifice their very lives to protect ours. The very least we owe them is top-notch medical and mental health care when they leave service.
Help us connect with the other 99%.
About 1% of our country serves in the military. That leaves most Americans without a connection to our troops and their families.
In years past, the entire country banded together to support our troops through war bonds, rations and taxes. Right now, it seems that most Americans just don’t understand what it means to serve our country. Help us to show everyone else what it means to live this life.
Highlight our sacrifices, beyond just the feel-good stories about homecomings and the devastating stories of loss. Help people understand that we have been at war for over 15 years. This war isn’t funding itself.
Pay us what we are worth.
Have you checked on the salaries for our service members from top to bottom lately? Without the “luxuries” of the commissary and military health care, many families wouldn’t be making it financially. Even with these benefits, there are too many military families who qualify for WIC, welfare programs and food stamps. That’s unacceptable.
In addition, due to operational tempo and frequent moves, many military families are trying to make it on just one salary.
Pay our troops what they are worth, based on the work that they do for our country. And pay them without factoring in the “benefits” we all count on just to make it from payday to payday.
These are just a few thoughts, Washington. If you need more ideas, just ask.