To those who have sworn with their lives to protect the United States against enemies near and far, national security is a deeply held value. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, exposed this nation's vulnerabilities and magnified the importance of this value not only for military veterans, but for all Americans. The American Legion has, since 9/11, passed national resolutions supporting and reconfirming its support for the global war on terrorism and for all who have critical responsibilities in it: the administration; the Congress; the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security; and, foremost, the troops and civilians fighting to keep acts of terrorism from occurring again on U.S. soil.
The American Legion's national-security position is multifaceted. Key aspects include a well-funded, well-equipped and well-trained military; awareness and surveillance of rogue nations, terrorist groups and global threats to U.S. security around the world; support for the Department of Homeland Security and urging its steadfast protection of U.S. borders, ports and other points of access; a decent quality of life for troops and their families - active-duty and reserve-component alike - that includes reasonable compensation, benefits, health care, child care, and family-support programs; and an efficient and compassionate healing and transition program for wounded and ill warriors.
The American Legion includes more than 14,000 posts around the world and actively assists veterans and families of military personnel. They work closely on transitions back to civilian and community life, using the VA health-care system, TRICARE or TRICARE for Life. The American Legion represents military members during the medical discharge process and assists in their pursuit of education benefits, employment counseling, training, and health care.
Also within the Legion's national-security pillar is a Foreign Relations Commission that works closely with the Department of State to seek peaceful solutions to various world conflicts and to advance U.S. foreign policy around the globe.
The American Legion's national-security positions include:
A Strong National Defense. The American Legion recommends an increase in U.S. defense spending to levels that represent at least 5 percent of gross domestic product to include pay raises for military personnel that keep pace with cost-of-living increases and close the gap between military and private-sector pay.
The Legion recommends that federal funding be provided to strengthen the Navy's ship-building program; to develop the Army's future combat systems; to build Air Force fighters, tankers and specialty aircraft; develop a national missile-defense system and cyberspace defense program; and to support NASA for dominance in space. The Legion urges DoD to use U.S. companies whenever possible for military procurement.
Greater military force end strength, from 1.4 million to 2.1 million, is recommended to reduce stress on the reserve components and National Guard, decrease the number of extended deployments, and better position the United States in the event of a sudden national-security threat outside the Iraq and Afghanistan war theaters.
The American Legion also supports a new U.S. military command devoted solely to African issues - AFRICOM - shipboard or in fixed headquarters on the continent.
The Legion also continues its ongoing support for the Selective Service registration process.
Military Quality of Life. Disabled military retirees earned and deserve full concurrent receipt of their DoD retirement pay and their VA disability compensation, which come from separate budgets, for separate purposes. Today, most disabled military retirees are forced to choose one or the other in what has become known as the "disabled veterans tax."
Military health-care programs must be fully funded without additional enrollment fees or copayment increases for beneficiaries. TRICARE coverage should be made permanent for members of the reserve components, as well.
Military personnel who sustain injuries or illnesses while on duty must be given fair and timely discharge processing, and their transition to civilian life and/or VA health care made seamless. The American Legion strongly supports a continuum of care for disabled veterans after they re-integrate to civilian life. The Legion encourages swift and efficient action to integrate various federal departments, agencies and programs to improve the transition process and sustain that continuum of care.
Homeland Security. The threat of terrorist attacks or other catastrophic disasters in the United States came painfully to light on Sept. 11, 2001, and following the devastating hurricane season of 2005. The American Legion works closely with government at all levels to improve disaster readiness in local communities and, at the national level, to assure a well-funded and efficient Department of Homeland Security is prepared for any eventuality.
Since the Department of Homeland Security's creation after the terrorist attacks of 2001, The American Legion has supported its intent, purpose and arrangement: to harmonize myriad agencies, offices, businesses, community groups and others with readiness responsibilities and quick-response capabilities. The American Legion is an active contributor to that synergy, on the local and national levels. The Legion concurs with the DHS mission to coordinate domestic security, including effective customs operations and drug interdiction.
To help with that effort, the Legion supports funding for the U.S. Coast Guard's "Deepwater" initiatives to rebuild its fleet and modernize assets to more effectively fulfill responsibilities in maritime safety, law enforcement, homeland security, environmental protection and defense.
Foreign Relations. The American Legion encourages increased federal funding for foreign relations and international affairs and for the Department of State's continuous effort to seek peaceful and diplomatic solutions to world conflicts, as well as the DoS initiative for creation of the Civilian Response Corps, for deployment before, during or after military campaigns.
Full Accounting of POW/MIAs. A sacred value of The American Legion is the full accounting and repatriation of fallen U.S. service personnel. The Legion supports Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command activities to locate and repatriate all recoverable remains of U.S. military personnel who have fallen or are missing in foreign battle zones.