Today's all-volunteer military is made up of less than one percent of our population. Individuals in our military risk their lives and dedicate years to the service and defense of our great nation. To honor their commitment to serve, we must use diplomacy to prevent war wherever possible and commit to military action only as a last resort.
We have a responsibility to provide for our troops' needs on duty. When they have fulfilled their service commitment, our veterans and their families have earned our full support. We need to support our troops and veterans in the following ways:
* Shorten tours of duty, and lengthen periods between deployments;
* Address the needs of troops and veterans exposed to toxins during their service;
* Stagger tours for military spouses with dependent children so that both parents are never deployed at the same time, forcing them to leave their children in the care of others;
* Add more family-friendly support services for active-duty personnel;
* Devote sufficient resources to mandatory screening, earlier identification, and treatment of combat veterans with mental health issues, including post traumatic stress disorder, clinical depression, and suicide prevention;
* Expand and improve Veterans' Affairs support services to accommodate the increasing number of male and female veterans of our current wars, to provide more outpatient treatment centers, to ensure adequate resources throughout the country, and to improve follow-up care;
* Expedite delivery of educational funding to veterans using the new GI Bill to pay for their college course work;
* Increase rehabilitation and reintegration programs for combat veterans, including additional job training and placement services for employment in the civilian sector;
* Revamp privatization of auxiliary services in combat zones and maintain better oversight of Department of Defense contractors;
* Repeal the discriminatory and destructive "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy now.