National Veterans Policy Framework Guiding Principles

Vision Statement:

“A thriving veteran population that contributes to the security, economic competitiveness, and overall social connectedness and well-being of the United States”

Today, there is much support for veterans among the American public. Yet, American society is disconnected from the sacrifices made by the people and families who have worn a uniform in our nation’s defense. With an all-volunteer force, the American public asks a small portion of the population to voluntarily shoulder the burden of keeping the U.S. safe and secure. In order for this model to survive, serving those who have served cannot fall to the federal government alone, but American society as well.

The National Veterans Policy Framework seeks to inform and catalyze a bipartisan public movement towards improving outcomes for America’s military veterans and their families. To do so is to meet a critical vision for the United States.

Bringing about such a vision requires significant investment of political, social and economic resources in this nation’s military-connected community on behalf of the American people, and by extension, its government. A National Veterans Policy Framework that introduces key issues faced by veterans and military families can inform and energize both government and its citizens in a new way. Veterans also have agency and responsibility in this effort. Good public policy enables opportunity for both sides to be engaged, breaking down the divide that exists between civilian and military communities.

It is critical that policymakers and the public alike understand and mobilize behind a core set of foundational principles that underpin the effort to better serve veterans and their families. These principles are the values that ought to guide all of American society, unified in its effort, towards an envisioned end state where veterans are more empowered to thrive, and America is more secure.

Principal One

Good veteran and military Family public policy can and should be beneficial for all Americans.

Policy serving veterans and military families should be bipartisan, unifying American families and institutions around serving those who have served. The VA constitutes the second largest agency in the federal government.¹ Public and social sectors should be more collaborative and efficient. Sharing costs and reducing duplication will provide high-quality services at a sustainable cost to the taxpayer.

Principle Two

Veterans and their families are a valuable asset to our communities and the economy.

Veterans represent a strategic opportunity to enhance the American workforce amid the 4th Industrial Revolution and digital era. Veterans possess in-demand technical training and leadership skills critical to a workforce evolving for the future.

Connecting veterans and their families with a workforce desperately in need of their skills will help the American economy maintain its global competitiveness.

Additionally, Veterans and their families possess values steeped in the idea of service. Often, they seek mission driven causes after service, and are more likely to be civically engaged in their communities. Good policy leverages the civic asset that veterans and their families represent.

Principle Three

A thriving veteran population with equal opportunity to pursue their post-service aspirations is the surest incentive to sustaining a capable, all-volunteer force, and the security of the United States. 

All Americans equally benefit from the national security provided by the few who shoulder the burden of war. Therefore, Americans should be more involved in the strategic and moral imperative of ensuring equal opportunity for veterans and their families.

A prosperous, thriving veteran population is the surest incentive to sustaining an all-volunteer force capable of fighting and winning our nation’s wars. The quality and effectiveness of programs designed to support veterans and their families post-separation will play a pivotal role in bolstering our military and national security. The decision to serve in the United States military must always be considered wise.

The Imperatives

The imperatives for better serving our veterans and their families are plentiful and urgent. Today, the U.S. military is operating in 40% of the world’s countries.2 We are expansively deploying our military in the name of our nation’s defense, and yet the sustainability of the all-volunteer force has never been more at risk.

In 2018, the Army missed its recruiting goal for the first time since 2005.3 The military is stretched thin, and yet the cost of war since 2001 reached nearly $6 trillion dollars and future costs expect to reach $15 trillion.4 Nearly 7,000 US soldiers have died in these efforts, bearing significant social and human costs as well.5 In other words, the United States is disengaged and disconnected from significant looming financial and security challenges.

All this, and still more veterans have died from suicide than from combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan.6,7 In the past ten years, the number of military veterans who have taken their own lives totals over 60,000. That’s a suicide every 80-minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We must begin by better serving our veterans today. The post-service experiences of many of our veterans and military families should be better. These guiding principles should be the foundation of good public policy aimed to make it so.

“If it is our hope that not every young person is called to a draft If it is our hope that we continue to be safe and secure without bankrupting our nation If it is our hope that those who have served have an equal chance at a happy and healthy post-service life”

National Veterans Policy Framework

More veterans have died from suicide than from combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan.56 In the past ten years, the number of military veterans who have taken their own lives totals over 60,000. That’s a suicide every 80-minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Effective, research-backed policy is the way ahead to better serving this population. These guiding principles can guide better policy for veterans, and American society as a whole. Good public policy that better serves veterans will translate to better public policy and services for all Americans.

Read The Framework


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1 United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Office of Rural Health. Retrieved from
2 Savell, S. (January 2019). This Map Shows Where in the World the U.S. Military is Combatting Terrorism. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from
3 Baldor, L. (September 21, 2018). Army Misses 2018 recruiting goal. AP NEWS. Retrieved from
4 Crawford, N. (November 14, 2018). United States Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11 Was Through FY2019: $5.9 Trillion Spent and Obligated. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Brown University. Retrieved from
5 Cost of War Project. Summary of Findings. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Brown University. Retrieved from
6 Yoanna, M. (June 29, 2018). Some 78,000 Veterans and Troops Lost to Suicide Since 2005. KUNC. Retrieved from
7 Brown, D. (November 9, 2018). Here’s How Many People Have Died in the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Task and Purpose. Retrieved from 12/19

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