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The United States is blessed with the best-trained, best-equipped, and strongest fighting force in the world.  I hold in the highest esteem the men and women who voluntarily serve in our Armed Forces.  They exemplify dedication, perseverance, hard work, and love of country, and to them our nation owes the deepest debt of gratitude.  All over the world they endeavor to save lives, defend freedom and human dignity, and combat tyranny and oppression.

As we wind down the war in Afghanistan and uphold our commitments to friends and allies around the world, our nation’s fighting men and women have been forced to endure multiple deployments. This has led to greater time spent away from their homes, families, and loved ones.  As we ask them to do this we must also provide them with the highest quality benefits, including affordable housing, access to higher education, top-quality health care, and entrepreneurial opportunities.  Our service members should be confident in knowing that they and their families will be taken care of throughout the duration of their service, as well as upon their return.  As a Member of Congress since 1993, I have worked hard to protect the interests of military personnel and make certain that our veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

The United States currently spends over $700 billion a year on defense, including funding for the war in Afghanistan.  This amount is vastly more than the spending levels of every other country.  While robust funding is critical to preserving our nation’s military strength and recruiting, training, and caring for our service members, I also firmly believe in the need to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse, and to cancel defense programs that do not work or are not needed.  Congress must continue to perform effective oversight of the Department of Defense and the defense industry to ensure that programs and projects are delivered on time and on budget.

Given growing instability in many regions across the globe and economic challenges here at home, the United States must carefully balance its military might with diplomacy in a manner that reflects our nation’s highest principles and advances our interests.  Chief among them is the need to ensure the safety of the American people; alleviate human suffering; promote democracy and human rights; and foster greater peace and stability around the world.  And as the Army saying goes, “Mission First, People Always.”  Let us not forget our nation’s fighting men and women, who everyday dedicate themselves so fully to their country, and work to honor their countless sacrifices.

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