Sequestration’s Impact on the Military

It’s important to realize that sequestration cuts that impact the military aren’t just coming from cuts to discretionary military spending. The problem with sequestration is that it puts through across-the-board cuts to all discretionary spending. Education, Science, Health, Military… the whole range of our nation’s best programs receive systematic cuts without regard to what those programs are.

Many military families rely on the same programs and organizations that everyday families do. This includes SNAP, WIC, and programs like Impact Aid, which provides funding for schools that teach a large percentage of children from military families who do not pay the local taxes to support them. The result of cuts to Impact Aid included teacher lay-offs and school closings that set military families back.

Cuts to human services organizations and programs directly impact the humans in the military. 5,000 families in the military were impacted by the most recent SNAP cuts. To further support the statistics that there is growing problem with hunger in our country, the military even offers its own Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance, and has a higher income threshold to qualify for WIC benefits to ensure that more families qualify.

This systematic disinvestment in human capital has a negative impact on the strength of our military and national defense. Richard J. Dunn, III in a piece for the Heritage Foundation points out that, “Readiness is like a three-legged stool. The personnel, equipment, and training ‘legs’ need to be balanced and in sync to support the load. The most modern equipment is useless without highly trained personnel to operate and employ it.” That personnel needs to be educated and healthy, and both of these take place long before joining the military.

Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and John Dalton, former Secretary of the Navy, released a joint piece where they argue that even the the military’s budget has increased over the past decade, the military’s strength is increasingly threatened because we are not investing in the people. They point out that over 72% of 17-24 year olds do not meet the basic educational, physical and moral standards required for service. We need to increase spending for education. Instead, we’ve been cutting it, and the first casualties are physical education classes, health classes, and early education. Shelton and Dalton specifically argue for an increase in early childhood programs, citing their links to higher graduation rates and lower crime rates.

Investing in our human capital isn’t just good for our families and communities, it also increases the pool and strength of those eligible to serve. Our long-term economic strength and national security are tied to the vitality of the workforce. This isn’t an argument just against future cuts, but an argument to reinvest in America’s strength, future, and self-reliance.

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