There are currently 1.29 million people in the various branches of the United States military. If that seems like a lot, consider the fact that many of those military members have families that include children. The number of people who are affected by the U.S. military is vast.
As such, the military has led the way when it comes to innovation on many different things over the years. Without the military, there wouldn’t be walkie talkies, nuclear technology, or GPS systems.
Now the military seems to be taking a look toward creating a more sustainable future. In recent years, advancements have been made in the serving branches to protect the environment. It isn’t just about making a better America for tomorrow; it’s about ensuring a better planet for generations to come.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some important facts about our military members and issues they still face, then dig into how the military is becoming more environmentally friendly.
The Risks Military Members Face
It’s important to note that, in addition to the members currently serving in the military, there are also over 19 million veterans currently living in our country, as well as their families. Veterans face a variety of challenges, from homelessness to physical injuries, and even mental and emotional trauma.
Many veterans have had to deal with harsh conditions and environmental issues during their time in the service, including working with hazardous chemicals. Some veterans are also still experiencing the negative health effects of being exposed to asbestos earlier in the 20th century. Asbestos was found in shipyards, boiler rooms, barracks, and ships across the branches of the military.
Perhaps the biggest problem facing military veterans, however, is PTSD. An estimated 8 million people are suffering from PTSD in this country, and many of them are former military members. PTSD can cause problems like avoidance of relationships, nightmares, flashbacks, and paranoia. Sexual trauma, especially among female members of the military, also continues to be a huge problem.
As you can see, there are many challenges facing both current military members and veterans that still need more attention. Thankfully, environmental efforts are one area where the military is starting to make huge strides. While we can’t ignore these other issues, focusing on some of the positive efforts can provide encouragement that these additional problems will be given more attention and dealt with effectively over time.
A Sustainable Military Movement
The military has made huge moves toward sustainability in recent years in almost every branch. In June of 2015, the Army published a plan to conserve natural resources and reduce energy use. This included setting up “smart camps” — military bases that utilize green technology to reduce energy use by up to 60%.
A few years ago, the Coast Guard jumped on board to make big environmentally friendly improvements to their navigational buoy systems. They have been consistent in looking at the “footprint” of the anchors they used. Thankfully, they’ve been able to create sustainable mooring lines over the last couple of years which do less damage to marine life and don’t bother the natural ecosystems found in the ocean.
Not to be left out, the Navy launched its “Great Green Fleet” in 2016, using ships that rely on alternative fuel sources and other energy conservation measures.
Even the U.S. Department of Defense has jumped on board the sustainability train for a better tomorrow, recognizing the impact that something as small as bullets can have on the environment. Bullets and grenades take decades to deteriorate and often contain toxic metals that harm the soil and water in the process. So, in 2017 the department requested the development of “eco-bullets” made out of biodegradable materials.
Environmentally friendly organizations are also cooperating with the military for a more sustainable future, including the American LED Alliance. The organization is working with The Independence Fund to give veterans the support they need while promoting energy conservation and job creation throughout the United States.
A Tactical Approach to Environmental Safety
The goal of the U.S. military is always to make its forces stronger, more prepared, and more flexible. But, because of the current state of the planet, finding new ways to do that in a sustainable fashion isn’t always easy. There is still work to be done!
The military, as a whole, recognizes that climate change is a threat to the future of the earth. Since they currently burn over 1.25 billion gallons of fuel each year, the Department of Defense uses more fossil fuels than any other organization in the country. That needs to change. Thankfully, the department recognizes this.
The changes listed here are only the starting points for what the U.S. military can do to improve the health of the environment on a global scale. While they still have a long way to go on a variety of social issues, it’s refreshing to see such a powerful force so invested in a sustainable future.