As the U.S. moves towards increasing its already record-breaking defense budget, many military families are struggling to make ends meet. This summer, reports have emerged of military families suffering from food insecurity, struggling to find affordable housing, and dealing with fallout from environmental exposures — including jet fuel and toxic chemicals. All of these challenges have been exacerbated by inflation, leaving many families to make difficult financial decisions. Are we surprised that the U.S. is struggling to meet its recruitment goals in all of its branches?
The challenges our military families are facing do not exist in a vacuum and they hold dramatic ramifications for our national security. How can our service members be mission ready when they are worried about where their family’s next meal will come from? How will we sustain a volunteer force when Americans — including many children in military families — are increasingly medically ineligible or unwilling to serve?
The experiences of our military families are directly related to our policy decisions about our defense budget and its allocations and choices around where and when to deploy forces. In turn, the quality of life of our military families impacts our national security capabilities and preparedness. As we consider committing more troops to Europe and more money to weapons, it’s important to hear from the families dedicating their lives to serve our country about how they are faring.
Joining us for the long overdue conversation about national security that focuses on people, instead of money or weapons, will be Sarah Streyder of the Secure Families Initiative, Col. Chris Reid of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Elizabeth Field of the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Afghanistan veteran and Quincy Institute Research Fellow Adam Weinstein will moderate.