The result: A stunning 72 percent of respondents cited the economy (42 percent) or the national debt (30 percent) as the top threats to the nation’s security.

With the ongoing news focus on traditional threats like Iran or China, you might be surprised by that result. Don’t be. Those who have worn the uniform know that this nation’s strength and freedoms stand on the foundation of a healthy, growing economy. They also know that when the economy struggles, the nation’s security is at risk.

And when you add a towering national debt—now closing in on $16 trillion—to the mix, you have a recipe for disaster. Right now we’re seeing that disaster unfold in slow motion, as the prospect of ill-advised defense spending cuts under “sequestration” are set to take place in January. Those cuts will have a huge impact on our force readiness (including, as I’ve written here before, compromised training for military personnel).

It’s also telling that more than half of the respondents—54 percent—don’t anticipate things getting better soon. Fully 34 percent believe the U.S. economy will grow weaker over the next two decades; meanwhile, another 20 percent believe it will be “about the same as it is now.” At a time of 8.2 percent unemployment, stagnant growth and runaway government spending, that’s a stunning vote of no confidence in our nation’s economic health.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a path back to economic health—real budget reform that tackles the biggest drivers of the growth of federal spending. In a recent op-ed at, I laid out my suggestions for how to tackle runaway spending.

Check out the full report on our poll results here.

Hegseth is the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, and is the former executive director of Vets for Freedom. He is also an infantry officer in the Army National Guard, and has served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.