One of the most powerful moments of President Obama’s State of the Union Address earlier this week was when he spoke passionately about the need for us to support the men and women who serve our nation in the military, their families, and our veterans, stating:
Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.
What made this statement even better is that, in contrast to the empty pro-troop rhetoric spouted by conservatives, the record shows that President Obama and progressives truly fight for our troops by enacting policies that support and reward them for their service.
A great example of progressives backing up pro-troop rhetoric with real world action was seen earlier this week when President Obama, joined by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, announced the official launch of the Administration’s Strengthening Our Military Families initiative. The initiative is the result of a May 2010 Presidential Study Directive, which ordered all federal government agencies to work together to create a coordinated approach for supporting military families. The resulting plan identified four areas where all government agencies will work together to benefit military families:
* Enhancing the well-being and psychological health of the military family.
* Ensuring excellence in military children’s education and their development.
* Developing career and educational opportunities for military spouses.
* Increasing child care availability and quality for the Armed Forces.
Just a few examples of steps that will be taken include:
* The DOD, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services will work together to improve mental health services and accelerate suicide prevention efforts
* The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by last year’s Wall Street reform legislation, will have an Office of Service Members Affairs, to help curb predatory lending practices targeting military families, which is a major problem as we’ve previously explained
* The Department of Education will make supporting military families one of the supplemental priorities for its discretionary grant programs
You can learn more about the initiative at the Defense Department’s website about it.
The Strengthening Our Military Families initiative is far from the only example of progressives taking the lead in working to meet the needs of our troops, military families, and veterans. For example, as we have discussed previously, a recently released 2010 Congressional Report Card from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ranked the voting records of members of the U.S. House and Senate on issues such as full and advanced funding for the Veterans Administration health care system (so that the VA does not always have to stand by nervously to see if they are going to get enough funding), supporting improvements to the post-9/11 GI Bill, modernizing the VA claims system, and providing unemployment benefits to combat veterans just returning from war. All of the Senators earning an A+ or A ranking are Democrats, while almost all of the Senators who earned a D or lower grade are Republicans. On the House side, most of the representatives earning an A+ or A are Democrats, while most of the D or lower grades went to Republicans. Similar results can be seen in IAVA’s 2008 report, IAVA’s 2006 report, and a recent ranking from the Disabled American Veterans.
In short, the record is clear that, when it comes to supporting our troops, military families, and veterans, Democrats offer real action. If you’d like to help push back on the conservative canard to the contrary, write a letter to your local newspaper editor thanking President Obama for his Stengthening Our Military Families initiative and the other steps that Democrats have taken to support our troops, military families, and veterans.
Here are links for submitting letters to the editor for national papers, and to newspapers in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.