Dear President-Elect Trump, The Military Community Wants You To Address These Issues
Between military readiness, ongoing problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the growing threats to national security, President-elect Donald...
Between military readiness, ongoing problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the growing threats to national security, President-elect Donald Trump will have to address a number of issues impacting the military and veterans upon taking the oath of office. He has already promised to end the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, improve the United States’ cyber security capabilities, and fix wait times for veterans seeking care at the VA. However, we wanted to know what the people who make up the military and veterans communities see as the most important issues the next president will need to address. We posed this question before the election and now present 30 responses in no particular order. Here’s what they said.
“I'd like to see the president direct the DoD to streamline evaluation and promotion systems with opportunities for merit based pay and promotion timing. High performers should never languish; low performers should not be promoted if they hang around long enough.” —Shawn VanDiver, U.S. Navy veteran
“For the military, the next president needs to work on setting clear priorities for the service components and order audits on the waste, fraud and abuse that is present in the Pentagon's budget so that more can be done with less.” —Matthew Schleupner, U.S. Army
“The best thing that the next president can do for service members is to fight and win the wars in which we are engaged and to focus the efforts of our military on fighting and winning the next war.” —Mike Grice, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
“Military: The president should schedule a monthly meeting to get an unfiltered report from two groups of leaders. The service chiefs and the global four-star commanders.—Jason Howk, U.S. Army veteran
“Emphasize training and readiness. Better a small military than a hollow military.” — Carl Forsling, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
“Protecting the integrity of our information systems, so that nothing like the OPM hack happens again.” —Alex McCoy, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
“Request a new Authorization on the Use of Military Force from Congress so that our elected legislative representatives share responsibility for our ongoing overseas military engagements (e.g., Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, to name a few).” —Welton Chang, U.S. Army veteran
“Our next commander-in-chief has to be foreign policy fluent, economy focused, human rights minded, and tough on terrorism. Without these qualities, we'll have a leader who fails us on the global stage, at home and abroad, and in our daily lives.” —Tahlia Burton, U.S. Air Force veteran
“Our leadership must continue to expand the conversation about military health to include a focus on performance enhancement and stress-injury prevention through resilient trait training and testing. Mental fitness training to ‘bulletproof the brain’ creates effective warriors with mental endurance, resilience, and promotes combat fitness at both individual and unit-levels.” —Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
“Developing a definition of a proportional response in cyberspace. We don't have definitions of ‘war’ and ‘peace’ in cyberspace.” —Andrea Goldstein, U.S. Navy veteran
Georgia Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tracy J. Smith
The U.S. Army’s ‘Cyber Center of Excellence’, Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., hosted a multi-service ‘NetWar’ to show, and build, cyber Warrior capabilities Tuesday, June 10, 2014.
“The incumbent needs to recognize that military pay is only a fraction of what many could earn in the civilian market. If we want to recruit and retain quality Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, then we need to fund quality training and pay personnel appropriately.” —Maj. Lisa Jaster, U.S. Army Reserve
“The next president will have to rationalize the drone policy to regional objectives, restore U.S. capabilities in forced entry capabilities for the Army and Marines, and restore high levels of individual and unit training that sequestration removed.”—Chad Storlie, U.S. Army veteran
For the active and reserve force, the next president should support and appoint officials that support personnel management reform to retain the best service members by fixing the promotion system and increasing career flexibility.” —Will DuVal, U.S. Army Reserve
“The next U.S. president needs to prioritize mental-health treatment for service members past and present. There should be efforts to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help and steps to improve access to mental health support and resources.” —Marissa Cruz, U.S. Navy Reserve
“Although women are outpacing the growth of men in the military and veteran communities, they continue to face barriers to service and advancement. To get the best out of our military, the next administration will need to not only continue to press recent reforms expanding opportunities for women, but will also need to implement policies to eliminate unconscious bias and sexism.” —Kate Germano, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
“Priorities for the next president should focus on better care for our fallen and their families, and honoring them by finishing the missions that they fought bled and died for. We have been at war for over 15 years now, and we cannot continue to ignore all of the families who are left behind from war and those who have died.” —Jane Horton, Gold Star spouse
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jennifer Webster
Staff Sgt. Christian Wolanski, a recruiter at Recruiting Station St. Louis, delivers a flag to a Gold Star mother at the 7th Annual Gold Star Family Luncheon on Oct. 1, 2016 in St. Louis, Mo.
“The President will need to address how much blood and treasure the U.S. will expend in the pursuit of peace all around the world. This requires an honest dialog with the American public about the type of foreign policy our country wants and can afford, while balancing this with the need to rebuild the U.S.” — Jahara “FRANKY” Matisek, U.S. Air Force, Major
“I would like to see the next president and Congress work together to fix the VA. The entire system needs to be overhauled so that our veterans receive the proper medical care they deserve in a timely manner.” —Michelle Volkmann, U.S. Navy spouse
“The president must get serious about refocusing the VA. If they have to start a brand new VA organization and re-interview every current worker to see who will continue to have the honor of serving our veterans, than so be it. This is a disgrace.” —Jason Howk, U.S. Army veteran
“Our next president needs to focus on quality of life issues for veterans and bringing trust back to the VA as an institution (health care, continuing job training, education opportunities).” —Matthew Schleupner, U.S. Army
“All service members should be screened by and enrolled in the VA at their last duty station prior to separation, regardless of the reason for separation. Retirement and benefits should be entirely moved from the DoD to the VA to allow the DoD to focus on its core military mission and provide that funding to the VA to manage all aspects of veteran care.” —David R Anderson, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Clayton Cupit
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Richard Starr waves an American flag as members of Joint Base Charleston march by while participating in the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Hospital Annual Veterans Day parade Nov. 8, 2014, in Charleston, S.C.
“The next president should seriously look at reform for the VA and military justice system. The VA has had plenty of press, but the military justice system is subject to abuse by commanders, often to the detriment of the accused.” —Jay Arnold, U.S. Army veteran
“Expand the Vets.gov team within the U.S. Digital Services and task them with creating a seamless transition of healthcare records between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Expand the VA Center for Innovation and task them specifically with developing pilot programs to address rural/distributed healthcare services.” —William Treseder, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
“We need to help the VA become better and cease treating VA employees as punching bags for government policies; we also need to revamp educational policy because 80% of GI Bill and DOD Tuition Assistance funds go to the 20% lowest performing educational institutions.” —Chad Storlie, U.S. Army veteran
“Incentivize local governments to play a leadership role in reintegrating veterans in the communities where they are actually going to live. To support this, push DoD to share data with local governments about where veterans are moving to post-service, so communities can be ready to receive them.” —Jason Mangone, U.S. Marine Corps veteran
“The next president of the United States should prioritize access to education and healthcare benefits for veterans, as well as address the ongoing problem of veteran suicide.”—Will DuVal, U.S. Army Reserve
“I hope the next president prioritizes the ongoing fights against both veteran suicide and homelessness. And as a means to those ends, I think we need to put more energy and innovation into our support for veterans transitioning out of the service and into the civilian workforce, which should include a substantial mental health care component — perhaps free and comprehensive mental healthcare should follow veterans even after leaving the service.” —Joanna Dasher, U.S. Army veteran
“The next president must work with Congress and veteran leaders to strengthen, reform and sustain the VA health care system so that injured and ill veterans who rely on VA can continue to receive high-quality, comprehensive, timely and veteran-focused care. The president must also work with Congress to expand the comprehensive caregiver support program to all family caregivers of veterans, regardless of when they were injured and made ill from their service.” —Garry Augustine, U.S. Army veteran
“Combining VA and DoD medical evaluations, eliminating redundant record systems, and generally improving coordination between agencies doesn't make for a good bumper sticker, but it's a fix that could make the most impact in the lives of veterans.” — J.p. Lawrence, U.S. Army National Guard
“The next president needs to take decisive action to keep the promises that this country has made to our men and women in uniform. Specifically the VA staff and management needs to be gone through with a hatchet; the corrupt need to be fired; and those who had a hand in the multitude of cover-ups need to be jailed if criminality is found.” —Brock Young, U.S. Army