Saturday, November 24, 2007

Military Spouses Challenge Presidential Candidates to Attend February Veterans Issues Forum

Military Spouses for Change is a "non-profit, non-partisan organization created to promote the rights, interests, and needs of service members, veterans, wounded warriors, and military families by educating the public and empowering military spouses."

They are laying down a compelling challenge:

As much as individual presidential candidates talk about health care plans or personal values, the fact remains that we are electing a war president. We are electing a president who will probably spend the bulk of his or her first term managing military conflicts and performing extensive foreign policy damage control. In 2008, the next President will inherit at least two wars and the costs of those wars, internally as well as internationally, will continue to grow long after the last service member comes home.

Consequently, Military Spouses for Change is inviting the presidential candidates from both parties to Fort Hood, Texas (Killeen), on February 1st, to talk about foreign policy, our military, our veterans, our wounded warriors, and our military families. ...

This kind of event has never been done before and it needs to be done now. Not only because Americans on both side of the aisle need to be reminded (before Super Tuesday) that we are electing the next Commander-in-Chief, but also because our service members and their families deserve to be addressed and heard by the people who wish to be elected in that position.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

From the MSC press release sidebar:

This forum is NOT about being for the war in Iraq or against the war in Iraq. This is about the fact that there IS a war in Iraq (as well as Afghanistan) and there are CONSEQUENCES to that war--consequences for our service members, for their families, for our country. We believe the candidates should have to talk about how they plan to identify and deal with these consequences.

How do we help our military and veteran families receive the help they need emotionally, medically, and/or financially? What are our obligations and responsibilities to them as a nation once they have fulfilled their obligations and responsibilities to us? What can and/or should we be doing to help our returning warriors successfully reintegrate into peacetime society?

These issues need to be a part of the national discourse about the war in Iraq because the war in Iraq does not end when a service member comes home.

We would like voters all over America to be mindful when selecting their nominee for President that his or her choice will have a significant impact on the lives and well-being of millions of service members, veterans, wounded warriors, and military families, including children.

This Forum can help all of us, military, veteran, and civilian alike, make the most informed choice.

Continuing from the press release:

We also think this country’s large veteran community should know which candidates truly value the military and veteran vote (if not for moral reasons, then for practical reasons). There are approximately 1.4 million active duty service members in America and 1.2 million in the National Guard/Reserves. If you include the spouses, that comes to a total of 4.1 million votes.

Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 8 adults were veterans (26.4 million) in 2003. If we assume that at least half of those adults were married, then we have approximately 39 million vet couples giving us a total of almost 43 million American adults who are currently serving in the military, have served in the military, or are married to someone serving or who had served. That is not an insignificant number.

As an organization and as military spouses, clearly U.S. foreign policy is important to us. But the American public has an interest in this as well, not only for fiscal reasons (e.g., we have spent 447 billion dollars on the war in Iraq alone), but for national security reasons. ...

What do the candidates propose to do for our returning wounded warriors and their families? How do we effectively identify their mental, physical, social, and financial needs and how do we effectively meet those needs?

The suicide rate is the highest in almost 30 years and the propensity to serve is at a 20 year low. Consequently, the Army and Marine Corps are relying on reenlistment and recruiting bonuses that will cost nearly 2.5 billion dollars next year.

Iraq is the defining electoral issue of 2008. Nothing can be done domestically until we have settled our foreign affairs in such a way that does not require a large military presence in hostile countries. Yet because Texas is not an early primary state, it does not warrant the attention of the Presidential candidates. Nonetheless, we cannot imagine an event more powerful than these candidates answering questions posed to them by the very people whose service and sacrifice allow forums such as these to exist.

Shouldn't we ascertain which candidates are the most qualified (from both parties) to lead our nation and our military prior to Super Tuesday? And shouldn't this be done in front of an audience of service members, veterans, wounded warriors, advocates, and their families?

If you have any questions or are interested in being involved, please contact:

Carissa S. Picard
Military Spouses for Change

I, for one, would love to see this take place.

MSC has a handy bipartisan Candidate Comparison page, which includes links to each campaign's website. From there, it would be easy enough to check out where they stand on the issues, and then perhaps click over to a few (or all) to ask them to seriously consider participating in this first-ever forum.

Who will be the first to say 'yes' to our nation's military families?

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