Military / Veterans
Strengthening Our Military: ‘Big Stick Diplomacy’
Remember when you were a kid playing in your neighborhood or at the playground? Everyone tried to get along and if there was a bully, sometimes it took you and several of your friends to run the bully off so you could get back to your peaceful fun. That’s kind of what the world should be like. The U.S., NATO, and our other allies trying to get along peaceably with everyone else and then bonding together when someone or some country acts irrational – think Hitler in the 1930s, the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s, and lately, China creating islands in the middle of the sea.
I support rebuilding our military, which has been greatly diminished under the Obama administration. We need to be big, powerful, and strong so that nobody will even think of messing with us. I endorse a “speak softly and carry a big stick” mentality, as expressed by Theodore Roosevelt. Our enemies are many and we cannot rest on our laurels; having a strong military presence has been an integral part of our national security strategy since the founding of our country. As it stands now, the U.S. military is losing so many troops and weapons it’s only “marginally able” to defend our great nation. Senators on the Armed Services Committee said in February of this year that it was time to reassess the Army’s planned cutbacks amid growing threats abroad, especially threats from ISIS and Russia and North Korea. ISIS especially must be taken out fast.
The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is totally unacceptable. Many thousands of veterans have died while waiting for proper medical care. Political corruption, red tape, and incompetence inside the Washington beltline are largely to blame. We have been too slow and done far too little to fix this urgent problem. If you defend America through serving in our armed forces, America should defend you.
We can improve the current state of affairs for our veterans in the following ways:
- Appoint a VA secretary to “clean up” the department. The VA secretary will be empowered to remove or discipline managers who fail veterans or breach the public trust. We can also appoint a commission to investigate any wrongdoing at the VA and use the findings as a basis for legislative reform
- Ensuring our veterans have convenient access to the best quality health care, wherever and whenever they need it. This means decreased wait times and long drives by increasing the amount of satellite facilities in rural areas where necessary. Every veteran that is eligible can bring their veteran’s ID card to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need right away. They should be offered the option to choose their own doctor or health clinic, whether at a VA facility or a private medical center. Opening up more of private sector healthcare to veterans is one of the ideas advocated by the Commission on Care, and is backed by many conservative lawmakers.
- Addressing our veterans’ ‘invisible wounds.’ Providing proper mental health care must be as important as physical care. A large number of veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse problems, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks. In fact, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are more likely to be affected by PTSD than veterans of previous eras, according to a study in press in the journal Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. All Iraq and Afghanistan vets were deployed and many engaged in combat, while many veterans from previous generations weren’t actually deployed. So we need to increase funding for PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and also for suicide prevention services.
- Modernizing the VA to meet the needs of 21st century service members. Too many of our VA hospitals are operating with archaic technologies. This is the age of smartphones and computers- we need to be cutting edge.
- Better at meeting the needs of our female veterans. Many VA hospitals don’t staff OBGYN doctors. OBGYN and other women’s health services should be easily accessible for women veterans.
- Increase funding for job training and job placement services. This includes increased educational support and small business loans to ensure success in civilian life, post-active duty.
- Hire more veterans to care for veterans. The more veterans that are working at VA facilities, the better the care will be.
- Decrease veteran homelessness. Approximately one-third of the adult homeless population has served in the Armed Services. Current population data suggest that about 58,000 Veterans are homeless on any given night. We need to provide safe, secure, and clean housing options that offer a supportive environment for our homeless veterans.