May is Military Appreciation Month â€“ a time to reflect on the sacrifice and commitment to public service made by those in uniform.
Iâ€™ve taught my son to say “thanks for your service and sacrificeâ€ whenever he sees an individual in a military uniform. Many folks in our community do the same. This support is deserved – and it reflects the incredible debt of gratitude we owe Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. It is so important that our nation treat the veterans of todayâ€™s wars much better than how it treated veterans of the Vietnam War decades ago. While away at war, we must also care for the families of service members – and we must still have their back when they come home.
However, our leaders in Washington must do more. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I know that simply saying thank you is not nearly enough. One of my highest priorities is to fight the harmful effects of sequestration on our nationâ€™s military. Sequestration is reducing funding for critical training hours and not meeting the equipment needs of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. A well-trained, well-equipped force is the core of our military advantage over any enemy.
If our men and women in uniform go to battle with too few people, without enough training, or with equipment that doesnâ€™t give them the biggest advantage against an enemy, then there will be more casualties on the battlefield. Congress cannot allow this to happen. When it is possible to reduce risk, we must do so.
Our service members are our nationâ€™s sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, and sisters and brothers. They deserve committed, responsible leadership from those that represent them.
Iâ€™ve always been clear that the only part of politics I do not like is, well, the political part. I want to focus on finding the right policies regardless of whether an idea comes from a Democrat or a Republican. I support colleagues from either party when they are right, and I part company with them when they are wrong.
I, too, want to reduce federal spending. I cannot criticize other lawmakers for wanting to do the same thing. But smart policymaking â€“ which seems uncommon in Congress â€“ requires us to cut spending responsibly and thoughtfully; not slashing critical and non-critical programs equally.
Smart policies from Congress will help ensure that our military has the critical resources it needs to accomplish its missions. That is the ultimate form of Military Appreciation Month from Washington, D.C. Merely saying, “thank you for your serviceâ€ is not enough from our nationâ€™s leaders.
The solution to sequestration â€“ and thus the best way to truly support our men and women in uniform â€“ is for Congress to come to a bipartisan agreement about our nationâ€™s budget and spending.
Members of Congress must put patriotism above partisanship. And, we must demonstrate the same level of commitment to public service that our warfighters show every single day.
U.S. Representative Pete P. Gallego, D-Alpine, represents the 23rd District of Texas, which includes all or parts of 29 counties in southwest Texas.