Democrats: Time to Man Up and Serve!
from the Democratic Party Platform [from p. 33 or pdf p. 35]:
Revitalizing and Supporting the Military, Keeping Faith With VeteransOYE Comment:
To renew American leadership in the world, we must revitalize our military. A strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace.
Ending the war in Iraq will be the beginning, but not the end, of addressing our defense challenges. We will use this moment both to rebuild our military and to prepare it for the missions of the future. We must retain the capacity to swiftly defeat any conventional threat to our country and our vital interests. But we must also become better prepared to take on foes that fight asymmetrical and highly adaptive campaigns on a global scale.
We will not hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests whenever we are attacked or imminently threatened. But we will used our armed forces wisely, with others when we can, unilaterally when we must. When we send our men and women into harm's way, we must clearly define the mission, listen to the advice of our military commanders, objectively evaluate intelligence, and ensure that our troops have the strategy, resources, and support they need to prevail.
We believe we must also be willing to consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability-to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities. But when we do use force in situations other than self-defense, we should make every effort to garner the clear support and participation of others. The consequences of forgetting that lesson in the context of the current conflict in Iraq have been grave.
Expand the Armed Forces
We support plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 troops and the Marines by 27,000 troops. Increasing our end strength will help units retrain and re-equip properly between deployments and decrease the strain on military families.
Recruit and Retain
A nation of 300 million people should not struggle to find additional qualified personnel to serve. Recruitment and retention problems have been swept under the rug, including by applying inconsistent standards and using the "Stop Loss" program to keep our servicemen and women in the force after their enlistment has expired. We will reach out to youth, as well as to the parents, teachers, coaches, and community and religious leaders who influence them, and make it an imperative to restore the ethic of public service, whether it be serving their local communities in such roles as teachers or first responders, or serving in the military and reserve forces or diplomatic corps that keep our nation free and safe. [Emphasis added.]
Rebuild the Military for 21st-Century Tasks
We will rebuild our armed forces the meet the full spectrum needs of the new century. We will strongly support efforts to: build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, engineers, foreign area officers, and other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply; invest in foreign language training, cultural awareness, human intelligence, and other needed counter-insurgency and stabilization skill sets; and create a specialized military advisor corps, whichi will enable us to better build up local allies' capacities to take on mutual threats. We will also ensure that military personnel have sufficient training time before they are sent into battle. This is not the case at the moment, when American forces are being rushed to Iraq and Afghanistan, often with less individual and unit training than is required.
Develop Civilian Capacity to Promote Global Stability and Improve Emergency Response
We will build the capacity of U.S. civilian agencies to deploy personnel and area experts where they are needed, so that we no longer have to ask our men and women in uniform to perform non-military functions. The creation of a volunteer Civilian Assistance Corps of skilled esxperts (e.g., doctors, lawyers, engineers, city planners, agriculture specialists, police) who are pre-trained and willing to aid in emergencies will involve more Americans in public service and provide our nation with a pool of talent to assist America in times of need at home and abroad.
Do Right by Our Veterans and Their Families
We believe that every servicemember is a hero who deserves our respect and gratitude, not just on Veterans Day or Memorial Day, but every day. When they put on their uniforms, these servicemembers all become all of our daughters and all of our sons, and it is time we started treating them as such. As the shameful events at Walter Reed hospital and recent reports on growing numbers of homeless and unemployed veterans show, this Administration that has asked so much of them has not repaid their sacrifice.
We will build a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs that reflects the reality of America's all volunteer military and has the resources, without returning every year to fight the same battles, to uphold America's sacred trust with our veterans. We will make sure that members of our Armed Forces have a fair shot at the American Dream by implementing the new GI Bill. We will ensure that every veteran has access to quality health care for injuries both physical and mental, and we will require that health professionals screen all servicemembers upon their return from combat. We will aggressively address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. We will work to ensure that every veteran receives the benefits he or she has earned and the assistance he or she needs by making the disability benefits process more fair, efficient and equitable. We will dramatically reduce the backlog of disability claims. We will combat homelessness, unemployment, and underemployment among veterans and improve the transition for servicemen between the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. We will continue to honor our promises to all veterans, including the Filipino veterans, especially with regards to citizenship and family reunification.
Lift Burdens on Our Troops and Their Families
We must better support those families of whom we are asking so much. We will create a Military Families Advisory Board to help identify and develop practical policies to ease the burden on spouses and families.
We will protect our military families from losing their homes to foreclosure. We will work for pay parity so that compensation for military service is more in line with that of the private sector. We will end the stop-loss and reserve recall policies that allow an individual to be forced to remain on active duty well after his or her enlistment has expired, and we will establish regularity in deployments so that active duty and reserve troops know what they must expect and their families can plan for it.
Support the Readiness of the Guard and Reserve
Democrats will provide the National Guard with the equipment it needs for foreign and domestic emergencies and provide time and support to restore and refit between deployments. We will also ensure that reservists and Guard members are treated fairly when it comes to employment, health, education benefits, deployment, and reintegration. We will do this by adequately funding reintegration programs to assist returning service members and by enforcing the Service Members Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Service Employment Rights and Readjustment Act, laws too often observed in the breach today. To ensure that the concerns of our citizen soldiers reach the level they mandate, Democrats will elevate the Chief of the National Guard to be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Allow All Americans to Serve
We will also put national security above divisive policies. More than 12,500 service men and women have been discharged on the basis of sexual orientation since the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was implemented [OYE Comment: Passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed by a Democratic President.], at a cost of over $360 million. Many of those forced out had special skills in high demand, such as translators, engineers, and pilots. At a time when the military is having a tough time recruiting and retaining troops, it is wrong to deny our country the service of brave, qualified people. We support the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the implementation of policies to allow qualified men and women to serve openly regardless of sexual orientation. [Italics added.]
[ . . . ]
If the Democratic Party seeks to lead America, then its future leaders, if eligible*, have an obligation to set a good example for the rest of us. Per their party platform, this goes beyond military service to embrace public service at home [teachers and first responders] and abroad [the Foreign Service], as well as serving in our military.
Those in the Democratic Party who support the robust intervention abroad described in their party platform only if "other people" actually participate will earn the same contempt from America that has silenced the Yellow Elephants.
Hat tip to Michael Flynn via Andrew Sullivan.
* Healthy heterosexuals [the party platform supports removing this requirement] 41-or-under.