Veterans Deserve Nation's Best Now, in Future
(November 5, 2010)
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staf, addresses the audience members at the 2010 Business
Executive for National Security Eisenhower Award Dinner in New York City
on Nov. 1, 2010. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2010 – The nation has not begun to comprehend the
long-term consequences of protracted war, the military's top officer
“The human toll – the fear, the stigma, and the hard work of recovery
ahead for our troops and their families – these are the real costs of
war,” he said.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at a
Business Executives for National Security dinner in New York honoring
David and Mary Boies with the organization's Eisenhower Award.
He said the Boieses and other BENS members' efforts demonstrate their
passion to give back to the country.
“National security is not just the purview of the military or the
government,” Mullen said. “But ... I think for many of our fellow
citizens, the military remains an abstraction.”
While it's clear Americans love and support the nation's
troops and their families, he said, “My fear is that we're
Servicemembers and their families commonly have endured five
yearlong or up to 25 shorter deployments since 2003, he
“From the everyday sacrifices of missed birthdays, soccer
games and special moments each family cherishes, to the
physical and psychological repercussions attached to the
post-combat experience, these are lives forever changed,”
“Long and frequent absences are testing their resilience,”
he added. “They want to know, ‘How many deployments can a
Veterans struggle with the combined stress of combat
missions, family separations and eventual reintegration into
civilian life, Mullen said.
“Military families live in a war zone of their own,” he
said. “The pressure to try to bear up with a stiff upper lip
is driving some to leave the service or – most tragically –
to leave this life.”
He said many veterans have a hard time translating military
experience into viable jobs, particularly in a burdened
Transition challenges, post-traumatic stress, strain on
families, health care demands, rising homelessness among
veterans, and the silent epidemic of suicide all paint a
stark forecast, the chairman said.
“There must be a sense of urgency here,” Mullen told the
audience. “The sooner we empower our veterans and their
families through these transitions, the less likely they
will spiral downward.”
Mullen praised the Boieses and other BENS members for the
organization's “Warrior Gateway” website, which he said
helps connect veterans' needs with the right community
resources and programs.
“Many veterans either can't find the services they need or
are overwhelmed by the maze of options,” he said. “Reducing
the information barrier, as Warrior Gateway does so well ...
can help put our veterans and their families on the right
The website allows veterans and their families to share
stories and rate and review the services they use. That's an
important piece, Mullen said, because it gives veterans a
voice and allows them to help guide others facing the same
“They are not burdens, they are assets. They are not
weaknesses, they are great strengths,” Mullen said. “They
have given us their very best. It is up to us to make sure
they get nothing less than our best in return, now and long
after these wars are over.”
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
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