By Dr. Clifford L. Stanley
Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness
I recently had the pleasure of accompanying the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, to the Middle East, where I received a much anticipated gift from our service members who are not only selflessly devoted to serving and protecting our nation but providing aid and assistance to other nations of the world. They gave me the gift of a newly invigorated devotion to serving them.
I remember well what it is like to be an active duty service member and whether serving in areas reminiscent of home or in austere environments, I am reminded of the tremendous weight these men and women carry each day protecting our nation and more immediately, each other, from danger.
I don’t sleep many nights because I know I am responsible for all of our Service members. As I listened to the reoccurring issues plaguing the thoughts of those currently serving, common themes emerged regarding family and healthcare, and how these issues would be affected by the current economic climate and budget reductions.
I want all of our service members to know, I heard you. The last thing you should be worried about while deployed is whether we are doing our job to care for your families. I heard you tell me you were worried about healthcare and very recently worried about your paycheck not showing up on time. I can’t promise everything will be perfect, but I will vow to do my best to influence what I can in caring for you and your families.
In the coming weeks and months, I hope to share with you more information on programs that can help you and your family. For example, many service members stationed in Japan have families who left the country due to safety concerns. They shouldn’t have to worry about their school aged children changing schools again due to an abrupt return to Japan. This is why family members can remain in their alternate location until the end of term and then return to Japan, if they so choose. The Department is worrying about these things so our Service members can rest easy.
As leaders, it remains our responsibility to represent the interests of our service members and their families. Given that our troops are putting their lives on the line every day, the urgency for action now remains clear and unwavering.