National Guard May 2011 : Page 14

CAPITAL VIEW By Adm. Mike Mullen A Vital Link working hard to ensure that America and her military don’t lose touch. These efforts are all the more important because, with fewer Americans proportionately serving, I worry that someday the American people may no longer know us. Recognition events like homecomings and yellow ribbons are important—and appreciated—but today’s needs go much deeper. The strain of deployment—whether physical, emotional or psychological—is great, and it accumulates over repeated occurrences. I believe the human toll of these wars will not be fully understood for many years. We cannot allow today’s veterans to be cast aside as too many of my Vietnam War contemporaries were. Our young veterans have much to offer their communities, but what they need first is an opportunity. The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs must play central roles. But the best answers to these problems often come from Main Street, not Washington, D.C. So, I’m extremely thankful for the Guard’s leadership, but I’m also incredibly pleased that our government is tackling this in a compre-hensive manner, across all federal agencies. This “whole of government” approach to meet the needs of all of our military, our veterans and their families aims to ensure that this important segment of our society gets the support it needs. As we take stock of these efforts, it is important to view them as an investment, not a burden. For I truly believe that today’s troops and veterans—Guard, Reserve and active—are America’s next “Great Generation.” The last decade has tested all of us, and, frankly, we could not have made it without the Guard and Reserve. Now more than ever, the Guard, as evidenced by the more than 600,000 Guard members who have mobilized since 9/11, is an integral part of who we are as a military and, indeed, as a nation. Thank you for your service and, just as importantly, for your role in keeping America and her military forever connected. The author is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Connecting with the American people is where the National Guard truly excels. S A VIETNAM veteran, one of my main concerns since the beginning of today’s wars has been the level of support our troops tr would receive from their fellow citizens, regardless r of the politics related to the war effort. e The initial outpouring was overwhelming by b any standard. Ten years later, America’s support for those in uniform has not diminished, but our nation, our o military and the needs of our military families have all changed. fa Today, the military comprises less than 1 percent of our nation’s population. Our active-duty recruits hail from increasingly concentrated segments of our country, as are the location of the bases where many of them work and live. The result is that military families are far less likely to be represented in communities in some regions of America. Fortunately, connecting with the American people is where the National Guard truly excels. In 4,400 locations across the country, Guard members are an essential part of their communities. In turn, these communities better understand the needs of our troops and families, and work hard to meet them. Accordingly, Guard members and veterans often know where they can find medical care, education or a job, the three primary needs confronting every veteran. That is not to say there aren’t challenges. The time between Guard duty periods, combined with dispersed off-duty locations where many members and families live, makes monitoring issues such as post-traumatic stress and trau-matic brain injuries particularly difficult. And maintaining a relationship with even the most supportive employer through multiple deployments can also be a challenge. Yet the Guard addresses these issues in an elegantly simple way: It builds and maintains relationships across the country. From community support coordinators, who connect military families with services, to the Employer Partnership Initiative, which links military members and their families with employers, the Guard is at the grassroots A 14 | Na tional Guard

Capital View

Adm. Mike Mullen

A Vital Link<br /> <br /> AS A VIETNAM veteran, one of my main concerns since the beginning of today's wars has been the level of support our troops would receive from their fellow citizens, regardless of the politics related to the war effort.<br /> <br /> The initial outpouring was overwhelming by any standard.<br /> <br /> Ten years later, America's support for those in uniform has not diminished, but our nation, our military and the needs of our military families have all changed.<br /> <br /> Today, the military comprises less than 1 percent of our nation's population. Our active-duty recruits hail from increasingly concentrated segments of our country, as are the location of the bases where many of them work and live.<br /> <br /> The result is that military families are far less likely to be represented in communities in some regions of America.<br /> <br /> Fortunately, connecting with the American people is where the National Guard truly excels. In 4,400 locations across the country, Guard members are an essential part of their communities. In turn, these communities better understand the needs of our troops and families, and work hard to meet them.<br /> <br /> Accordingly, Guard members and veterans often know where they can find medical care, education or a job, the three primary needs confronting every veteran.<br /> <br /> That is not to say there aren't challenges. The time between Guard duty periods, combined with dispersed off-duty locations where many members and families live, makes monitoring issues such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries particularly difficult.<br /> <br /> And maintaining a relationship with even the most supportive employer through multiple deployments can also be a challenge. Yet the Guard addresses these issues in an elegantly simple way: It builds and maintains relationships across the country.<br /> <br /> From community support coordinators, who connect military families with services, to the Employer Partnership Initiative, which links military members and their families with employers, the Guard is at the grassroots working hard to ensure that America and her military don't lose touch.<br /> <br /> These efforts are all the more important because, with fewer Americans proportionately serving, I worry that someday the American people may no longer know us. Recognition events like homecomings and yellow ribbons are important–and appreciated–but today's needs go much deeper.<br /> <br /> The strain of deployment–whether physical, emotional or psychological–is great, and it accumulates over repeated occurrences. I believe the human toll of these wars will not be fully understood for many years.<br /> <br /> We cannot allow today's veterans to be cast aside as too many of my Vietnam War contemporaries were. Our young veterans have much to offer their communities, but what they need first is an opportunity.<br /> <br /> The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs must play central roles. But the best answers to these problems often come from Main Street, not Washington, D.C.<br /> <br /> So, I'm extremely thankful for the Guard's leadership, but I'm also incredibly pleased that our government is tackling this in a comprehensive manner, across all federal agencies. This "whole of government" approach to meet the needs of all of our military, our veterans and their families aims to ensure that this important segment of our society gets the support it needs.<br /> <br /> As we take stock of these efforts, it is important to view them as an investment, not a burden. For I truly believe that today's troops and veterans–Guard, Reserve and active–are America's next "Great Generation."<br /> <br /> The last decade has tested all of us, and, frankly, we could not have made it without the Guard and Reserve. Now more than ever, the Guard, as evidenced by the more than 600,000 Guard members who have mobilized since 9/11, is an integral part of who we are as a military and, indeed, as a nation.<br /> <br /> Thank you for your service and, just as importantly, for your role in keeping America and her military forever connected.<br /> <br /> The author is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.<br /> <br /> Connecting with the American people is where the National Guard truly excels.

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