1. It gives our young people an opportunity to become heroes by performing selfless service in the defense of their nation.

2. It creates veterans who, because of their military experiences, have learned to appreciate the diversity of our great nation and her people. Soldiers come from all ranks and stations as well as religions, races, and nationalities. Native born citizens serve alongside naturalized citizens and immigrants still seeking citizenship. The Army is and always will be a wonderful human laboratory.

3. Generations of Army families have forged a significant block of leaders who help our Army maintain its traditions and standards.

4. Army posts are living museums of American history. There very presence tells stories which forged the America we know and love today.

These four values I present have a price tag: How do you place a price tag on missed birthdays, holidays, high school graduations, sporting events or other significant events in the lives of a Soldier?s family? How do you budget for training accidents, inability to plan for the future because of unscheduled moves, lost furniture, and the little financial and administrative errors during a 20 or 30 year career? How do you budget for maintaining a 24/7 state of readiness with out of date or inadequate equipment for accomplishing the mission?

The Soldier is not a Democrat or Republican; he is not a Protestant, Catholic, Jew or Muslim ? A Soldier is an American who lives and dies in wars and conflicts following orders given by those above him or her. A Soldier lives and dies in wars and conflicts not of his own choosing.

The Army budget insures that Soldiers and their families are paid a living wage so that 25% of them won?t depend on food stamps for subsistence; that the Army is fully funded for war fighting and equipment is always the best; that wounded veterans expect to access the best healthcare and rehabilitation possible, and that Soldiers who retire from that Army will be compensated according to the understood contract with them.

The Army budget of which I speak will not need shady agencies who use Wounded Warriors as poster children for collecting millions of dollars or who see our wounded veterans as victims of a cruel system that used them in war but leaves them but leaves them helpless to face the challenges caused by the wounds of war. Every organization soliciting funds should be held to the highest standards of accountability. Many of you will say, ?Chaplain, this is expensive!? and I agree. I leave it to the accountants to produce the figures.

How much is it worth for our heroes to be ready every day to give their lives for OUR FREEDOM? Come on, America, let?s continue to have the best army in the world and spend whatever it takes to keep it so!! -

Chaplain Wesley Geary

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