Keeping our patriots safe is crucial

Sen. Joni Ernst is making sure that goal is achieved

Having military forces that are second to none is vital not only to keep our nation secure, but also to make sure those allies that depend on the United States remain safe. In view of their crucial mission, the men and women who serve in the armed forces of the United States deserve the support and admiration of all Americans. It is imperative that these patriots have the equipment and other resources to fulfill their important roles as easily and safely as possible.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who is herself a combat veteran, has made championing our military and looking out for the well-being of service personnel two of her top priorities in Congress. As part of the GOP leadership in the Republican-controlled Senate and as a member of that body’s Committee on Armed Services, the Iowa Republican is well-positioned to pursue these goals.

In November, Ernst demonstrated her commitment to and concern for our troops by visiting some of them who were serving in Kuwait and Afghanistan. She has developed a reputation for listening closely to what those individuals currently serving tell her about that their experiences and needs.

With that in mind, Ernst has just partnered with three other senators to introduce legislation that will make service members – especially women – safer. Ernst is co-sponsoring with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois., Martha McSally, R-Arizona., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut., a measure designed to improve the availability of body armor and other protective equipment that is better- suited to the full range of body types. This bipartisan measure is needed because studies have shown that avoidable injuries are occurring due to poorly fitting or unavailable protective gear.

“Women continue to make strides in serving in critical roles within our nation’s military. As a woman who served in combat and commanded troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and with my own daughter who is going through training right now at West Point, I understand just how important it is for all service members to be properly equipped for the battlefield,” Ernst said in announcing this legislation. “Right now, female service members are facing injuries due to ill-fitting equipment. We must do better for our military men and women.”

The legislation will not only make appropriate equipment more readily available, but also will promote development of even better choices in the years ahead. It also sets out mechanisms for Congress to track the military’s progress in implementing the proposed solutions.

The senator and her colleagues view this legislation as important for the safety of women and smaller men and as a sensible way to enhance the readiness and effectiveness of American combat forces.

The Messenger agrees. We commend Ernst for working collaboratively with senators of both parties to advance this worthwhile project. Keeping those who serve in our military forces as safe as possible should be a goal all lawmakers share.