There is a growing problem in the military reserve and National Guard communities: The financial resources to accomplish our mission are being drastically reduced to the point that we are having difficulty maintaining our readiness as force.
Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry’s recent decision to call up the National Guard to stem the flow of migrants illegally crossing the border brings up several hot button issues. Whose responsibility is it to guard U.S. borders? Should the military be involved in such a mission? What do we do with the thousands of people, many of them unaccompanied minors, coming over the border? How do we turn them back when most are simply seeking greater freedoms, economic opportunity, or fleeing dangerous situations in their home countries?
Following World War II, one of the best examples of a successful government program was the G.I. Bill. Once passed, thousands of service members returning from war were able to get an education, earn their degrees, start a career and make a great deal more than they would have otherwise. The overall economy benefited from the influx of workers able to earn higher wages and the country, as a whole, benefited not just from the increased economic activity, but from the overall improvement that came with it. The gains for society were exponential.
Transitioning from military to civilian life is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. One minute I was walking down a crowded street in an Iraqi city, rifle at the ready, eyes scanning the people around me for potential threats, and the next, I was walking down a New York City sidewalk trying not to eye the people around me the same way.
As an Iraq War veteran, watching the events unfolding in Iraq over the last few weeks has been interesting to say the least. There is the sense of total frustration that all of our sacrifices are being undone, that everything was for naught. There is the disgust at the fact that we had, in fact, accomplished our mission by 2008. The Sunni Triangle had been pacified. An elected government was in place. Iraq had a future. And then, through political malfeasance, sectarian tensions and general incompetence, we and the Iraqis have let that slip away.