Perspective: Supporting military needs

For our brave military men and women, military installations serve as their home away from home. That is why it is important to the morale of these brave folks to have the resources needed to stay prepared for their varying missions, many of which put them in harm’s way.

One of those resources are post and base exchanges and commissaries which provide our fighting men and women in uniform and their families with a place where they can do their grocery shopping and meet other personal needs without ever having to leave the safety of their installations. It’s a chance for these fine folks to shop American wherever they are based in the world.

Understanding the importance of these exchanges to our military personnel, I recently co-sponsored the Save Our Military Shopping Benefits Act, which would prevent the closure of military commissaries and exchanges.

Specifically, the legislation blocks the Defense Department from making cuts to commissaries and exchanges through 2016. The impetus for the bill came after the Defense Department recently indicated it would study proposals to reduce, and in some cases, eliminate commissaries and exchanges. While I believe that every government agency should be identifying ways to reduce waste and abuse, I don’t believe it should be done on the backs of our men and women in uniform.

While it is important to ensure we have the necessary funding to provide our military with the tools they need to defend our freedoms, it is also crucial that those selflessly serving our nation understand those back home are concerned about their morale and welfare as they prepare each day to put their lives on the line.

A critical part of our armed forces has always been our National Guard. Recently I joined with other members in sponsoring the National Commission on the Structure of the Army Act, which aims to support and maintain both the Army and the National Guard as strong and viable forces for America’s defense.

The bill seeks to freeze the transfer and divestiture of Army aircraft and maintain the National Guard end strength of 350,000 personnel. The bill would also establish the National Commission on the Structure of the Army, which would study the structure of the Army to determine the most efficient mix of active and reserve forces. At a time when our country is facing threats from several corners of the globe, ensuring that we have a vibrant and healthy Army and National Guard are critical to our national security both in the near and long terms.

It is critical that we not only support our troops on the battlefield but also provide them with the support they need when they slip their boots off for the day. We must ensure those military families who sacrifice so much to support their loved ones are taken care of as well. I remain hopeful both pieces of legislation pass the House and Senate and find their way to the president’s desk for his signature.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., represents the state’s 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 573-635-7232.

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