How will national security be affected if the debt ceiling isn’t raised? In 2011, $350 million was cut from the budget. More cuts are expected.
This reduces the capabilities needed to defend our interests around the world. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said we risked “hollowing out” our armed forces. They already have readiness problems. A further reduction will affect their ability to deploy forces.
President Obama has stated we have to protect our government’s core commitments like food stamps at the expense of reducing national security spending.
U.S. Sen. John Kyl of Arizona objected, saying there is no core commitment that supersedes the obligation to provide for the common defense, the first business of the federal government.
Additionally, according to USA Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs states if the government shutdown continues into late October, the department will run out of money for compensation and pension checks to more than 3.6 million veterans who rely on that money to support themselves.
This and other problems concerning the military have caught the attention of an organization called Concerned Veterans For America, of which I am a proud member.
Starting this month, CVA is taking our message of service, freedom and action on the road and straight to the people. It is setting out on a nationwide Defend Freedom Bus Tour. For the next three weeks, it will travel across a dozen states stopping at Las Vegas, San Diego, Oceanside and Long Beach; Tucson and Phoenix, Ariz.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; Pensacola, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville, Fla.; Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio; Frankfort, Ken.; Charleston, W.Va.; Chesterfield, Martinsville, and Virginia Beach, Va.; Fayetteville, Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C.; and Tallapoosa, Ga.
The tour will feature veterans, military families and patriotic Americans. Here are just a few of those that will join us on the tour:
Amber Barno served as a helicopter pilot in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is a conservative writer and commentator and has been featured on television and radio programs including Fox News and Fox and Friends.
In September 2011, President Obama awarded Sgt. Dakota Meyer the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government. He is the third living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, and the first living Marine in 41 years to be so honored.
Capt. Sean Parnell served with the elite 10th Mountain Division. He wrote the New York Times best-seller, “Outlaw Platoon,” the story of his platoon’s combat in Afghanistan.
Jane Horton is a proud Gold Star wife to SPC Christopher Horton, an Army sniper killed in action on Sept. 9, 2011, in Paktia, Afghanistan. She is an advocate for Gold Star wives.
Staff Sgt. David Bellavia has been awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his actions in Iraq. He is also the cofounder of Vets for Freedom.
Jessie Jane Duff served 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and retired as a gunnery sergeant. She was the spokesperson for Military Voting Rights USA.
Sgt. Major Harold G. Overstreet served as the 12th sergeant major of the Marine Corps. He is currently the chair of the Noncommissioned Officers Association.
Darin Selnick is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He was an appointee in the Bush administration at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also served as the director of the Center for Faith-Based Initiatives.
Lt. Col. Steve Russell was battalion commander of the unit that captured Saddam Hussein. He has written a book about this experience, “We Got Him.”
Capt. Pete Hegseth served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He presently serves as chief executive officer for Concerned Veterans for America. Prior to joining CVA, Hegseth was executive director for Vets for Freedom. He frequently appears on Fox News. His columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
For a more detailed bio of those on the Bus Tour, please check our website: defendfreedom.com.
Concerned Veterans for America is providing an opportunity for veterans, their families and all Americans to honor their service by taking action in defense of freedom. Join us.
Chuck McDougald is the Western Region director for ConcernedVeteransforAmerica.org. He lives in South San Francisco with his wife and two kids.