As we reflect today on the sacrifices that our troops have made, it’s worth remembering that for our men and women in uniform, the effects of military action are something that they and their loved ones must live with 365 days a year – and for many years after deployments.
It’s easy to acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have died in combat since the Revolutionary War, but less frequently mentioned are the many who have returned home with grievous injuries and have to fight to earn a place in the civilian world. Organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project deserve special recognition for their work.
Additionally, many of our fighting men and women suffer from severe emotional problems as a result of their service. Tremendous stigma is still attached to post-traumatic stress disorder – which is still very much a “dirty little secret” following deployments.
The effects of these situations extends to the families of these soldiers – and as such, I am deeply grateful to First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden for using their offices to support our military families.
As we continue to face high casualty numbers from our overseas obligations and an acrimonious debate over the massive defense budget, I hope that we can begin to have a serious conversation about the role that our military should play in the future. For too long, we’ve used the military when it’s in “our strategic interest” – which obviously is too broadly defined, since every person views “strategic interest” differently. It’s time to define the parameters more narrowly. Our nation has finite resources, and every soldier’s life is valuable. We owe it to our men and women in uniform – and their families – to deploy them only when absolutely necessary.
Let’s make it Memorial Day every day by keeping our military’s actions limited and purposeful – and keep them at home out of harm’s way.