As a veteran of the US Marines, I am fully aware, night and day, as to the trials that our sons and daughters are making in the name of peace. I know that none of these young men and women joined our country's military in the hopes of going to far off lands on the chance of a war; they joined for the satisfaction of showing honor to the people that served before, for family traditions, and in most cases, the benefits associated with the status of veteran - in the forms of housing and education assistance. Nobody joins in the hopes of killing someone.
This first decade of the 21st century has placed unimaginable pressures on the United States, her friends, and our allies. Outside forces and radical groups have worked diligently to try our courage, test our resolution and erode our conviction in this great country. During this era, where unconventional warfare plies through calculated acts of terrorism, nuclear arsenals growing in small countries, and the internet enables identity destruction without physical contact, we must never falter in our commitment to defend our citizens nor consider the option of negotiating from a position that lessens our national interests. We must pick our contests, rather then let opponents pick the contests for us. While we should always view military action as a last resort in the course of peace, we must remain resolved to resist any actions against our sovereignty. Negotiation with radical forces or foreign powers should never be conciliation.
America owes a great debt to those who have already served. As George Washington pointed out - "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportionate to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country."
We need to ensure support for our veterans, both through retraining programs, and also through a complete, comprehensive modernization of the VA medical and support network. For too long, we have treated our honored veterans, both peacetime and wartime, as second-rate citizens once they enter the VA program.
We vow to end the endless paperwork shuffle, long wait times for action, and bring the facilites to help our veterans closer to them. Similarly, we will bring benefits, for them AND their families, up to par with other programs.