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Troop Size: How Big Should the U.S. Army Be?

army a go go

By Debbie Gregory.

The United States has higher military spending than any other country so that we can defend our borders, uphold international order and promote American interests abroad. Congress is taxed with increasing the size of the Army in 2018, but the House and Senate have not been able to agree on how many more soldiers the service should add.

The House has called for the Army to add 17,000 soldiers, 10,000 to the active force and 7,000 to the National Guard and Reserves, but the Senate only wants to add about 6,000 soldiers, 5,000 active-duty soldiers and 1,000 reservists and National Guard members.

The Senate expressed concerns that adding 17,000 more soldiers to the force next year could force the Army to reduce its recruiting and retention standards, a problem the branch has faced in the past during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“No one wants to see the Army allowing anyone who can’t meet the current standards into the uniform,” one of the officials said. “That is not a place we can afford to go back to.”

Past administrations have increased military spending, but usually in order to fulfill a specific mission, such as Jimmy Carter’s expanded operations in the Persian Gulf, Ronald Reagan’s arms race with the Soviet Union, and George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House and Pentagon has said Trump’s promised increases to the military force size, including the Army, would begin with his fiscal year 2019 budget.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

One Word Stands Between Guard and Reserves Veteran Status

what is a veteran

By Debbie Gregory.

As the number of reserve component members of the National Guard and Reserves who have served in support of the war on terrorism nears the one million mark, it is shocking and unacceptable to learn that they are not considered “veterans” when they complete their service.

This inequity was written into antiquated law, in a time when the Guard and Reserves were called upon, for the most part, one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer.

The Reserve units of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard are now considered “operational,” used continually,  the same as our active forces.

To be considered a veteran, service members need 180 or more consecutive days on active duty, not including active duty while training. Getting nearly six consecutive months on active duty isn’t as easy as it sounds; the armed forces intentionally limit orders to 179 or fewer days because anyone on active duty 180 or more days is reflected on active duty manning documents, which counts against the service’s personnel ceiling.

It would seem reasonable that we would express our appreciation to these service members by giving them the same “veteran benefits” allotted to those who served in the “regular” forces.  And doing so would be pretty easy, just by changing one word in the current law: “consecutive” to “cumulative.”

The Reserve Officers Association has worked with Congress to try to get this change approved. And it appears that no one is opposed to making the change.

While many argue the semantics of who is a veteran, perhaps we can all agree that when a person dons the uniform of our country, and signs up to serve and sacrifice, we can repay that debt by honoring what they have done. It isn’t necessary to make a divide when unity makes us not only better, but also stronger.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Nominations Sought for 2016 ESGR Freedom Awards

esgr

By Debbie Gregory.

National Guard and Reserve members- does your employer go above and beyond to assist you with your service obligations? If so, then perhaps you should nominate your employer for a 2016 Freedom Award. But hurry, because nomination are only open until December 31st!

The Freedom award is presented by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an office of the Department of Defense (DOD). The award is the nation’s highest honor given to civilian employers for their efforts in support of their National Guard and Reserves employees. The ESGR determines which employers are deserving of the prestigious award through nominations made by current members of the Guard and Reserves.

Members of the Guard and Reserve make up nearly half of our nation’s military force. These citizen-soldiers provide essential services to maintain national security and conduct humanitarian efforts at home and abroad. The cooperation of their employers eases the burden of sacrifice on service members, and helps keep our military prepared and our nation protected.

In 1996, then-Secretary of Defense William Perry presented the first Freedom Awards to Schneider National, McDonnell Douglas, National Life of Vermont, Tektronix, and United Parcel Service (UPS) Central Florida District. Since then, up to fifteen Freedom Awards are presented each year. A total of 205 employers have received the award.

The ESGR is asking for members of the Guard, Reserves, or family members acting on their behalf, to submit nominations for employers at www.FreedomAward.mil by December 31, 2015. Nominations for employers from companies of all industries, functions and sizes will be accepted, so long as they are the service member’s current employer. Each year, a Freedom Award ceremony is held in Washington, D.C. to present the awards to deserving employers.

Wonderful employers who go above and beyond in their efforts to support the members of the Guard and Reserves deserve recognition. Military Connection is a long-time supporter of the ESGR and often facilitate signings of support for employers.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.