matters to military

I appreciated your Sunday editorial in support of early intervention in the lives of at-risk children as a way to prevent crime (”Early intervention best response to ills of poverty,” Dec. 3). Like the Maine sheriffs, police chiefs and prosecutors behind the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids report your editorial mentioned, military leaders like me firmly back investments in quality early childhood care and education programs. For us, it is an issue of military readiness and ultimately, our nation’s safety and security.

Too often, today’s youth are leaving high school without the skills, education or physical fitness our country’s military requires. Crime and drug use among our youth are also impacting the military’s ability to recruit the men and women they need.

With the right investments in quality early care and education programs, we can turn that around.

Starting with voluntary home visiting programs, we can educate new parents and parents-to-be about how to best nurture their child in the earliest years, so kids get a healthy and stable start in life. Next, programs like Early Head Start, Head Start and Pre-K help develop youth who are more likely to be healthy and fit, do well in school, graduate, and be well-prepared for many life options after graduation, including military service if they choose that path.

The earlier we reach at-risk kids with quality care and learning programs that help give them a strong foundation, the better their outcomes in life are, and the more likely they will be the kind of men and women our country’s military needs.

Bill Libby

Major general, U.S. Army (retired)

Old Orchard Beach