Here's another self-evident truth: Our servicemembers and veterans should be financially secure. No one should be expected to wage war on behalf of the United States while worrying about making their monthly payments back home.
Have we boxed ourselves into a corner by good intentions and dangerously simplistic thinking? One thing I learned in the desert is that sand storms happen. Every crevice of your body ends up with sand. All the lines we draw, even hard red lines, are really lines drawn in the sand.
Supporting our veterans is not cheap; it involves a real investment in both policy and budget priorities. But our veterans put our country first and stepped up, and on this Memorial Day, state legislators of both parties need to be standing up for veterans with real resources as well.
Democratizing service and sacrifice would revitalize the meaning of citizenship, regenerate the civil-military relationship, and introduce an inclusiveness to help us find a more common basis of strength in our dangerously divided nation.
Just as we are committed to the country's security and defense, we are committed to our veterans and military families. Without them, we would have no defense. They are proven leaders and community assets.
The U.S. military was engaged in two theaters of war, I was studying global security, and yet I could not think of a single person I knew who was serving -- nor had the thought previously crossed my mind.
There are so many civilians who deploy alongside us, who wear bulletproof vests, sometimes carry weapons and run for cover when the mortars hit, who may never be thanked for their service, simply because they don't wear the same uniform we do.
Obama should use the bully pulpit to urge troops and veterans to seek help if they are depressed, suffering from PTSD or suicidal. He should also trumpet legislation to fund more mental-health counselors for the armed forces and for veterans.