We are veterans from every branch of uniformed services and every conflict from World War II to the Global War on Terror. We are the family members of those who have proudly worn the uniform. We are freedom-loving citizens who value America’s heroes and are concerned about the fate of our country. We come from all walks of life and live in every community across America.
We all share a strong belief that the freedoms we have defended – that our friends and loved ones suffered and died for – are being threatened by the irresponsibility, broken promises, and misguided priorities of our leaders in Washington. We know that veterans, service members and their families are, and will continue to be, disproportionately affected by the current economic crisis. For this reason, we must rally to serve again as active citizens, just as we fought as soldiers.
Throughout our years of service and many deployments around the world, we have seen firsthand what happens when freedom and free markets are interfered with and fail. We know all too well that freedoms surrendered are rarely — if ever — regained. And we watch as our elected leaders continue to shrink from challenges and betray the trust placed in them. The truth is, the ideals and freedoms that have defined America since its founding are dissolving before our eyes.
We are committed to the historical promise of our nation: that all Americans have an equal opportunity to pursue prosperity. We affirm this commitment by working to return to the tradition of limited, effective government so that those men and women who have given the most in service to this nation will not be denied their chance to enjoy that prosperity.
We are resolved that it is our sacred duty to stand as one — veterans, family members and active citizens alike — in defense of the fundamental ideals of liberty that are the soil from which opportunity for prosperity grows.
Standing for Freedom and American Strength
The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has argued that debt is the biggest threat to U.S. national security. Ever-expanding debt and deficit spending is stifling our economy and will constrain our nation’s ability to meet our responsibilities for security and defense at home and abroad.
Our military personnel and veterans have struggled and sacrificed, and they do not want to see all they defended imperiled by an irresponsible government’s addiction to debt and spending. Instead they should rightly expect policymakers to show the same courage and selflessness that they and their fellow service members displayed.
Getting Washington’s Priorities Straight
Runaway government spending continues at an alarming rate, with taxpayer funds squandered on waste, sweetheart loan deals, corporate welfare and special interest subsidies—and yet programs that support veterans and their families are among the first targeted for budget cuts.
Policymakers on both sides of the aisle should face up to the challenge of restraining government spending to ensure sound budgeting for future generations. Washington needs responsible leadership; service in our nation’s capital demands the same dedication and selflessness that those who defended this country in uniform have shown.
Defending the American Dream
Today’s veterans not only return home to a struggling economy, but also fewer job opportunities. Unemployment rates for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are significantly higher than that of the general population. Efforts to encourage businesses to hire veterans through temporary tax breaks, though a product of good intentions, will not deliver adequate opportunities.
Veterans know this country needs a comprehensive agenda of fiscal restraint and pro-growth policies that allow businesses to expand and create jobs—creating an environment that provides opportunities for all.
Fighting for the Future
We demand and expect courage and accountability from our leaders. To maintain our strength as a country we need a powerful, consistent force, advocating for policies that lead to free markets, fiscal discipline, and a government that respects the freedoms America’s veterans, and their families, sacrificed so much to defend. Veterans have shown their capacity for leadership, unwavering commitment to action, and focused advocacy time and time again – in policy debates, in veterans service organizations, and even in elected office. These men and women know how to make their voices heard, and they understand what it means to be a part of something larger than themselves.
Veterans understand that they must bring that knowledge and that perspective to bear in a much wider fight, one that will require a commitment, focus, and sustained effort unlike any seen previously. They must serve once again on the same mission they accepted while in uniform – defending freedom.