MILITARY & VETERAN REFORM
The United States always has and needs to continue be an all-volunteer force that is highly funded and has access to some of the most up to date and technologically advanced equipment in the world. This requires a massive budget, which many view as being excessive. I do not believe that the military is over funded but that the funding is misappropriated and there is little to no oversight on where funds go.
I believe that our military needs to have more stringent enlistment guidelines and more in-depth screening; psychological, medical, and criminal. During the enlistment process, recruiters will no longer ask the recruit for medical information, and it will instead be pulled from the recruit’s primary care provider via their medical records, dental and vision.
Military pay needs to be at the forefront of budgetary needs. To many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians are living at a standard that is unacceptable for the cause they defend. Additionally, the military “blended retirement program” needs to be looked at as it does not benefit those who chose to make the military a career. Upon retirement from the military, those servicemembers should be able to claim retirement pay at the point they retire, not at the age of retirement when they can pull their 401K.
The military should offer a program offering a path to citizenship for potential servicemembers who are non-citizens. Upon completion of a term of service, those joining for citizenship would have their citizenship automatically granted; the citizenship application process will be completed as part of their enlistment process. As part of this program, spouses, underage dependents, or disabled persons who the servicemember is guardian over can also apply for citizenship.
The military should offer an “up and out” program where recruits have the opportunity to move out of any given area under an agreement that upon completion of a term or terms of service will be able to relocate to anywhere within the nation or territories.
The military legal system and UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) needs to be controlled by a 3rd party outside of the military unless the crime or incident is specifically unique to the military. Administrative punishment in the military is subject to the Commander that is overseeing the Article 15 (AR-15) hearing; proof is not required to administer punishment; all that is needed is for the overseeing Commander to believe that the subject of the AR-15 is guilty or to have a prejudice against the Soldier in question.
The military needs to hold 3rd party manufactures and entities responsible for their products or services, such as military housing being unhealthy and substandard or 3M providing faulty ear protection, just to name a few.
Veterans and their families, especially Gold Star families deserve our respect and utmost support. When Soldiers return from warzones and transition out of the military they are left to their own devices and many times slip into some of the worst situations imaginable. We need to protect and help anyone who has put their life on the line in defense of our freedoms. Those who have paid the ultimate price leave behind a void that cannot ever be filled, and families are left to fend for themselves with little or no support. Gold Star families need to be given priority treatment within the VA system and not pushed to the wayside.
The interpreters that we have employed to help us in our mission against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan need to be granted immunity and brought to the United States or one of our Allies. If they are applying for citizenship, their applications should be priority. These men and women put their lives and the lives of their families in danger just by associating with us. If their identity were ever uncovered the enemy would kill them and their entire family; it is the least we can do for their service.
I will propose permanent legislation that guarantees a minimum of a .5% pay raise over each year’s national inflation rate (normally approximately 3% to 3.1%).
I will propose a Fort Drum & North Country Community Revitalization plan that would focus on bringing the Fort Drum and North Country Military and Veteran Community into the 21st Century and make the North Country into a place that servicemembers and their families would want to stay at after their service obligations have been met. Currently Fort Drum, Fort Irwin and Fort Polk are generally recognized as the least desirable duty stations in the US Army. All three have the same problem; there are no, or limited amenities to make the servicemembers and families want to stay in the area after their contract is up. My plan contains many topic areas:
I will call for the unification of the entire 10th Mountain Division on Fort Drum. Currently the 3rd Brigade is located at Fort Polk, Louisiana. This would solve logistical problems with a separate Brigade being half the country apart as well as build the local population which has continued to decrease since Fort Drum lost a brigade due to realignment and base closures in 2013. Fort Drum spent a lot of money are resources on the base infrastructure just prior to learning that the base would lose a brigade. Additionally, I would move the remaining segments of the Griffiss Air Base to Fort Drum (onto Sach-Wheeler Army Airfield (AAF)) and would rename the installation as Joint Base Drum (JBD). To further strengthen the northern border, I would also add a surveillance / reconnaissance Wing on Sach-Wheeler AAF consisting of E-3 Sentry (AWACS) planes and F-22 (Raptor) fighter jets. I would also move Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) from Rome to Sach-Wheeler AAF.
I will also expand the current training area to include an Army Mountaineering and Cold Weather Survival Course on a small camp in the Adirondack Mountains near Lake Placid. Additionally, I would create a Joint Forces Training Area where Canadian and US forces can train and coordinate together.
I will push for funding to build a state-of-the-art shooting range / complex which would be accessible to the local community as well as the base itself.
Fort Drum is one of the few installations that does not have its own hospital and shares community services with Watertown. Additionally, the nearest Veterans Affairs Hospital (not clinic) is 65 miles away from Watertown in Syracuse. I suggest the construction of a joint community hospital shared by the installation, Watertown, and the Veterans Affairs. This facility would be located on the edge of the installation or near I-81 and exits 48 and 48A. This facility would be a state-of-the-art medical facility caring for the local community, veterans and the servicemembers and families of the servicemembers of Fort Drum. I’d also locate a Army Medical Command (MEDCOM), Army Dental Command (DENTCOM) and US Army Public Health Command (USAPHC) which would cover the entire Northeastern United States.
I will propose expanding the current Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) funding to construct a joint MWR and United Services Organization (USO) complex to service Fort Drum and the entire Northeastern United States. Part of this would include a resort in the Adirondack Mountains that would provide outdoors features, fishing, hiking, skiing and more. I would also like to see a shared community golf course built between Fort Drum and Watertown to further strengthen the community bond between the base and the local community.
I will propose the creation of a national cemetery and Fort Drum which will also lead to families wanting to stay closer to their loved ones lost.
I will propose funding and grants to add multiple off duty establishments off base as this is a key reason that servicemembers and their families do not stay in the area after their term of service is complete.
I would create a free shuttle service linking Fort Drum to the local community.
I will push for funding of the construction of a one-of-a-kind military mall. This facility would include state of the art amenities merging Post Exchange (PX), Commissary and private corporations into the facility, such as Walmart (assuming this could be worked, those with valid ID cards would not pay tax and would receive a “military discount” where the local community would pay tax and the normal price on goods), McDonald’s Panera, IMAX / Regal movie theater and numerous other shopping and dining options. This facility would be constructed in a manner so that residents of base could access it without leaving base and the local community would have a controlled access location as well. This military mall would be set up as a small town / street shopping / dining experience with parks and shops all along the way.
I will push for the creation of a Gold Star Family Center. This would work with the casualty assistance programs in the military to assist families with the passing of their servicemembers. The primary staff would consist of Gold Star Families.
Finally, I will request funding to build a memorial wall in the joint community to honor the selfless service of 10th Mountain Division Soldiers who have died in the line of duty as well as any North Country Servicemember who died in the line of duty.