After nearly ten years of conflict, President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Forces in our continuing efforts to degrade and defeat al Qaeda.
This is a time of great relief and celebration -- we did not rest, and we did not falter.
Perhaps this can also be a time of reflection and renewal of our commitment to the military family.
It is a time to reflect upon those who have sacrificed for these past ten years in defense of liberty. Make no mistake, today is a great day; however, these nearly past ten years of conflict have come at a great cost. According to the Defense Casualty Analysis System (DCAS) Files, 43,184 Service men and women and DoD Civilians have been wounded or killed since October 7th, 2001 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.
As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense John R. Campbell recently stated "Many came home forever changed, all came home heroes."
We just finished celebrating the month of the military child
, and I cannot help but to pause for a moment and ask what a decade of conflict, injury, and loss has meant for the children of our nations heroes.
Ten years of conflict has placed a unique burden on our men and women in uniform, their families, and children. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Military Community and Family Policy, Mr. Robert L. Gordon stated, “kids serve too.”
Since the tragic and horrific acts of terrorism that blackened the skies of our collective freedom-loving conscious, six month away from home became twelve. Shortly after, twelve months in harms way became eighteen, and then enlistment terms became stop-lossed.
We saw repeat deployments become the norm, and listened intently as senior military official state that if we did not fix dwell time at home in between deployments, our military faced the breaking point.
For the children of the next greatest generation, some saw two and three deployments for Mom or Dad. Now, a new generation of combat Veterans knows that reverberations of four and five deployments can crack the foundation of even the most stable of homesteads.
Yet, I take comfort in knowing that our national leadership is committed to ensuring that we face this obligation – restoring the military family – with the same vigor and relentlessness as we pursued Bin Laden.
The announcement of the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces campaign to energize the American public to stand behind our military families and caregivers gives me this comfort
; as does knowing that this new front is well led and well championed by the American people.
We know what has been sacrificed and we know what must be repaid -- we must not rest, we must not falter.