Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Marine Talks About Why He Joined the Military

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"An overwhelming desire to serve."

That's the answer a Marine Corps Major gave me earlier this week when I asked him why he chose to join the military. "I wanted to be a part of and serve something greater than I ever could on my own," he told me, "and I wanted to protect, on a small scale, my family and friends, and on a larger scale, a way of life. If you were to ask most people who join why they signed up, they would tell you it's the intangibles. It isn't about what you can get out of it; it's about what you can give."

Most of us can only imagine that kind of selflessness, but the men and women in our Armed Services continuously carry out that creed of sacrifice. We live lives of prosperity, free from the fear of harm, because of their vigilance. It is said often, but it could never be said enough: they are our heroes.

May is National Military Appreciation Month, a time set aside for us to honor and appreciate the men and women in our Armed Forces. Now and always, they deserve our unyielding support. That's why it's absolutely critical that we restore our full military readiness and make sure our service members have everything they need to fulfill their responsibilities in the field and come home safely.

As Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, I've heard testimony from leaders in each of our service branches confirming that our military men and women face significant dangers as they continue to operate under the constraints that sequestration and diminished readiness levels have imposed. Our war fighters deserve better. We have to do everything in our power to make sure that they are well-trained and supported and that the equipment they use is properly maintained and combat-ready.

The House Armed Services Committee took some positive steps last week by passing our annual defense authorization bill, the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), through the full committee. Significantly, this version of the NDAA contains readiness provisions that would prohibit the Department of Defense (DOD) from implementing another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in the absence of an accurate, up-to-date report about end strength, it provides for increased military construction, and it streamlines civilian hiring processes so that critical manpower capability gaps can be filled. Further, it directs several assessments of the military departments' plan to rebuild readiness, enhance exercises, and modernize training requirements.

I'm encouraged by the progress we're making, but I think it's important to remember that these provisions will not and cannot entirely resolve our readiness challenges. These are issues that will need to remain in our focus for months and even years to come. Our service members deserve that. It's the absolute least we can do for the young men and women who joined the military because of that "overwhelming desire to serve." 


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