Last week the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fully fund our military. The passage of this bill in the House, fittingly, coincides with National Appreciation Month, the Month Congress set aside in 1999 to collectively thank those who have served our nation. Under the Constitution, one of the fundamental functions of the federal government is to provide sufficient funding for the common defense. The men and women that continue to serve on the battlefields need to know that their needs will be met.
While the President continues trying to reduce our troop numbers, I was proud to yet again vote for an NDAA that fully supports our military and its mission to defend our country. Unfortunately, while our military’s resources have been declining, threats against us have increased. Our military needs to be prepared to not only face these threats to protect the American people.
Additionally, I was pleased that the legislation reverses troop cuts by increasing active-duty Army by 5,000 soldiers. Louisiana’s 4th Congressional district enjoys a long history of supporting our nation’s Armed Forces, and is also home to Barksdale Air Force Base, Fort Polk/Joint Readiness Training Center and Camp Minden National Guard Training Site. As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have been proud to prevent some of the major reductions other military installations around the country have suffered and will continue to fight for high troop levels and expanded mission sets.
Equally as important as funding our military to show our appreciation is ensuring that the thousands of military families here at home are receiving the very best support and benefits. We can only begin to repay our service members and their loves ones for their contributions, which is why this year’s NDAA also included a pay raise for our troops, a move the President has denied the last three years. Having served six years as a physician in the United States Navy, I have a strong personal appreciation for the sacrifices of our nation’s military and veterans who chose to answer the call to serve.
There is no one we owe a greater debt of gratitude to than the men and women who bravely fought for our freedom.
Dr. John Fleming is Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is a physician, small business owner, and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. He represents the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana.