For the next few months the people who are vying to be our next president will be amazingly accessible. If you happen to live in a state like Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina you can very easily find an event featuring one of the presidential candidates at which you could ask them a direct question.
When the moment comes, what would you ask?
If you're like me, you are keenly interested in the safety and well-being of our nation's military and the next president's plans for how to use force when conducting foreign policy and protecting our country. As a Marine veteran who was wounded in Iraq, I'm also very interested in how our future president will support our returning veterans.
I put together seven questions that I would love to see asked of each of the candidates.
You might find asking these questions a little nerve-racking. As an inspirational speaker, my advice is to take a deep breath and talk slowly. You can do this.
These questions are worded so that anyone can ask them, but if you're a veteran make sure to emphasize that when you ask the question:
1. After the war in Iraq, we have seen the problems associated with deploying our forces without a specific endgame and exit strategy. If you believe we should deploy more of our military forces to Syria and Iraq now, under what circumstances would you envision bringing them home?
2. After seeing in Iraq and Afghanistan less than one percent of our population fighting our nation's battles, which often resulted in multiple tours of duty, what do you think about imposing a draft like we have done in the past?
3. Many military servicemembers state that the current services provided to them as they transition from the military to the private sector are not helpful and do not prepare them for their new lives. How would you improve this process?
4. Studies show that the financial costs alone of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach at least $5 trillion dollars. There were also approximately 7,000 lives lost, 50,000 wounded in action and hundreds of thousands with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. How does that affect your decision to send American troops back into the Middle East?
5. Many senior officers argue that our military cannot solve all of our problems, and that Congress should give the State Department and USAID larger budgets so that they can help countries be more stable on the front end. What is your opinion on that?
6. Our government has clearly not provided many of our veterans the care that they need and deserve. Appeals of their cases can take close to a decade to adjudicate, the veteran suicide rate is through the roof, and Post Traumatic Stress still has a huge stigma attached to it. What specific measures would you take to rectify these problems?
7. Recently 20 national security leaders including General Petraeus, General Casey, Michael Chertoff, Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft authored a bipartisan letter opposing efforts to deny refugees from Iraq and Syria access to our refugee program in the United States. If you disagree, please explain why you think these experts are wrong.