Support our servicemembers; end the shutdown

Dear American Legion Family and Friends,

The federal government is closed. Your American Legion is not.

Perhaps by the time you read this the government will re-open. After all, our federally elected officials have a constitutionally mandated responsibility to run the government. The shutdown is directly impacting the lives of our active-duty personnel, their families, veterans and federal civil servants who faithfully serve our nation every day.

These Americans do not need the additional stress of financial insecurity. I can’t help but think about the military families that live paycheck to paycheck and may not have the luxury of dipping into savings to pay their light bills.

Many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans currently using the GI Bill to go to school are understandably concerned that the shutdown will negatively impact their ability to pay tuition. Navy veteran Alyssa Myner told the Military Times, “I’m worried that if it (the shutdown) does extend further than three weeks, I will not be able to continue school because of the lack of funds.”

We’ve been told that VA will be less impacted than other government agencies. Hospitals will remain open and disability checks will continue to arrive for now. But even essential personnel need a strong support system to continue operating efficiently. This shutdown is a massive disruption to the Department of Defense. Suspended contracts and furloughed employees will impact our military’s ability to defend us.

When the shutdown ends, the top priority for the White House and Congress must be a budget agreement. Continuing resolutions are recipes for fiscal failure. Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, lamented this process to an America Legion delegation. “Nobody would run a company this way,” he said. “We have continuing resolutions every year which cause us to operate this year with last year’s requirements, which was also run by continuing resolution. Right now we are operating off a foundation from 2012. The world is not the same as it was in 2012.”

It should be noted that he made those comments nearly 14 months ago. Veterans can count on The American Legion to constantly communicate their concerns with Congress and the White House.

In a memo to the entire military, Defense Secretary James Mattis assured the military that its leadership will do its best to mitigate the impacts of the disruptions and any financial burdens faced by troops and their families.

“Steady as she goes - hold the line,” Mattis said. “I know our nation can count on you.”

The American Legion is now asking all of our elected officials: “Can we count on you?”

Family First.