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This Memorial Day, supporting veterans is a matter of national security

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When that day comes, the fears of those who laid the blueprint for America’s experiment with an all-volunteer force become realized. When that happens, we are all less safe, and that truth is embedded in the doctrine that informs our national defense. 

The National Security Strategy, which emphasizes all of the nation’s resources as an element of security, says that rededicating "ourselves to providing support and care of wounded warriors, veterans, and military families" is fundamental to America's defense posture. The National Military Strategy adds that America's leaders "are the strongest advocate" for the nation’s commitment to caring for our wounded veterans and their families.

Thankfully, key government leaders understand this. To emphasize the relationship between veteran welfare and national security, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki hold regular “summit” meetings focused on recovery coordination for the wounded, ill, and injured; the disability evaluation system; and transition programs.

Congress also gets it. Veterans programs have been protected from budget cuts, largely because they are recognized as a national security concern. The Budget Control Act of last August included Veterans Affairs in the “security” category, along with the department of Defense, the intelligence community, Homeland Security, and portions of the State Department budget.

The White House this year requested extra funding for the disability evaluation system, as well as family support and veterans’ transition programs.

It should not be a surprise that our nation’s most senior leaders recognize that the welfare of our veterans represents a key component of our defense posture, because it’s not a new idea. In fact, George Washington, our nation’s first president, made this point very plainly when he said, “the willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

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