Our nation has been at war for more than a decade. If we are going to send Americans to war, we have a responsibility to support those soldiers and their families during and after their service. The people and families who sacrifice for our country should never be homeless, without a job, or left to deal with their mental health on their own.

Military members and their families face a unique set of challenges. Family separation and frequent moves are a particular hardship. Family members at home often have trouble finding work in their field and securing affordable childcare. To better support military members, we must prioritize educational and employment opportunities for military families and advance legislation that eases the burden of raising children without the immediate help of the military partner.

All active military members eventually become veterans. We must absolutely be prepared to care for service men and women when they come home. Part of that commitment is to make the transition to civilian life as smooth as possible. We need to expand job training programs for veterans and make sure military certifications transfer to the civilian sector. The federal government must also create jobs for veterans by offering a tax credit to companies that hire veterans and encourage more companies to post openings on the federal Veterans Job Bank.

Fulfilling our commitment also means improving health services for veterans, mental health services especially. One active duty service member takes their life almost every day, and one veteran every hour. That is unacceptable. It is the government’s responsibility to expand mental health screening, counseling, and treatment immediately, as well as to actively combat the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health and sexual assault. Ultimately, any universal health care system must include special services for veterans and improved training for healthcare professionals in treating combat-related illness.

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