A recent editorial (“Our View: Help Maine’s ‘disconnected youth’ realize their potential,” May 16) and a few opinion pieces in the central Maine papers on the importance of engaging Maine’s disconnected youth and strategies for addressing Maine’s workforce challenges caught my attention. As a retired Army general, my interest in developing Maine youth comes from a different angle: national security.

If we are to protect our great country, we need to make sure we have men and women who are ready to serve in the military when they finish their education, if that is their choice. Our country’s military strength and readiness depend on youth who are healthy, fit, and have a strong educational background. To make sure we can achieve this, we need to start reaching kids very early in life, especially our state’s at-risk kids.

When children have access to early learning programs, such as Early Head Start, they get a stronger, healthier start and are set on a positive path. Continuing with Head Start and other quality pre-K programs helps to build a solid learning foundation for kids. It is also the foundational building block to achieve MaineSpark’s goal that 60% of adults in our state will have education and workforce credentials of value by 2025.

Children who participate in quality early learning programs are more likely to be prepared to enter school, setting the stage for success throughout their education. This is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that it helps ensure our youth are ready and able to serve our country, if they so choose. Our nation’s security depends on it.

Major General Earl Adams

U.S. Army (retired)

Pittston

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