Enthusiasm is a great thing! But enthusiasm with respect is even better.
Over the past few months, I have followed many blogs and articles that detail the military budgets and the possibility of programs being cut. In response, I would like to offer another view of this situation, well aware that my view might not be popular.
We all knew the day of budget cuts would eventually arrive; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming to a close. We have experienced thirteen years of intense fighting and unbelievable sacrifice, and during that time many new family programs were created to support the families of our magnificent armed forces.
The leaders of every service are working diligently every day to make the best of a smaller budget. I know firsthand the feeling of watching your husband be beat up in Congress or yelled at by retirees. These leaders are smart, thoughtful, and honorable. They are also married to smart, thoughtful, and hard-working spouses. Each would love to keep every program and all of the equipment: the planes, ships, and other military hardware that help our armed forces do their job every single day. Additionally, they would also like to procure new equipment to modernize the force.
But that is not reality.
I remember sitting in a conference room in the Pentagon and asking a leader of one of the best charities that support our military, “who supports the military leaders and helps them when hard decisions must be made?” It took this person by surprise. This is where my idea of Enthusiasm with Respect was formed.
Our uniformed and civilian military leaders volunteer to serve their country and have incredible responsibilities that I know they take very seriously. And while I have read many a critical piece on their leadership, I have yet to read an article supporting the tough decisions they have to make. Wouldn’t it be great to read some constructive ideas for managing a smaller budget?
Dollars allocated to our military by Congress are finite and therefore, choices must be made. Not all programs are entitlements. When money is flowing in, programs are created to meet the demands of families and help them deal with frequent high-risk deployments and long separations. But now is the time to take an honest look at all programs across the board.
Recently, I attended the Character and Leadership Symposium at the Air Force Academy. The last speaker of the day was General Rodriguez, Commanding General of the U.S. Africa Command. He reminded everyone that while we might be in charge of a small group, we are also part of the larger team. We certainly are proud and strong military spouses, and the programs we advocate for are important to us, but we should also remember that we are a part of a much bigger team. That team is the United States Armed Forces.