Representing more than 30,000 Veterans for Smart Power across the country, nearly 50 top leaders of the USGLC’s growing veteran’s initiative came together on Capitol Hill earlier this month as part of an ongoing effort to elevate U.S. diplomatic and development programs alongside a strong defense. From Vietnam veterans to active guard and reserve members, this diverse group of men and women spent a day speaking with lawmakers and sharing personal stories of their time in uniform to highlight how our national security is strengthened by our civilian-led tools.
Here’s what they shared following their day on Capitol Hill:
“Our men and women in uniform do an outstanding job of protecting our country. Still, our first line of defense is diplomacy and development. Professionals at the State Department and USAID advance our national security objectives and the work they do is indispensable to sustaining our on-the-ground success.” –Marjorie K. Eastman, author and speaker who served as an Army intelligence officer in both Afghanistan and Iraq
“If we have the resources to improve economic opportunity, civic services, healthcare options or public safety in an unstable region, it could remedy a situation, that otherwise may call for combat troops in the future… If we can find solutions to problems at the lowest possible level through things like development and diplomacy, we won’t have to send men in women into harm’s way- Jermaine Ferguson, former Marine and National Security and Legislative Coordinator at the Ohio Department of the American Legion
“My experience in Fallujah led directly to my belief that our nation ought to take reasonable actions to avoid situations in which the only course of action is war. I see both development and diplomacy as a means of averting these scenarios… My message to lawmakers is simple: if diplomacy and development efforts are not fully-funded, then they are less likely to succeed in their goal of averting war. If we don’t avert war, then U.S. service members will be sent into harm’s way, and some will not come home.”-Jesse Hamilton, a former Army Staff Sergeant who served as an advisor to the Iraqi military and now works as a research assistant at the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law “
The USGLC’s Veterans for Smart Power met with 50 congressional offices from 20 different states during their day on Capitol Hill. The visit was part of a nationwide effort to elevate prominent voices in the veteran community in a conversation about America’s role in the world, while providing veterans of all backgrounds an opportunity to network and learn more about how their service and their story fits into the foreign policy conversation.
Throughout the year, Veterans for Smart Power educates veterans and elevates the veteran voice in the conversation surrounding America’s role in the world. If you’re interested in getting involved with Veterans for Smart Power, or learning more, please visit our webpage.
Veterans for Smart Power is a group of veterans of all ages and ranks who share a commitment to elevating and strengthening our non-military tools of global engagement. Launched in 2010, there are nearly 30,000 supporters of Veterans for Smart Power with active groups in 30 states across the country.