America has a long tradition of military service dating back more than 200 years, with many stories of great soldiers and airmen who gave their lives on the battlefield. I am proud of our servicemembers and will never forget our brave men and women fighting overseas. Arkansans have done their part to protect our freedom, contributing heavily to the war effort since the conflict began. Our State alone has roughly 1,700 soldiers currently overseas and has deployed more than 8,000 since September 11, 2001.

We, as a nation, must ensure that our troops have the tools and resources they need to not only accomplish their mission but to also stay connected to their families and loved ones who remain in the United States. One of my constituents recently informed me that it is difficult to contact her son due to the expensive calling cards needed for overseas telephone calls. With our troops continuously in harm’s way, we must do better than this.

Simply put, this government needs to provide our servicemembers with free telephone access to contact their families here in the United States while they are in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have recently urged President Bush to include funding that will allow our brave American servicemembers overseas to call their loved ones free of charge as the Administration’s FY2008 budget is being prepared.

May God bless our troops, their families, and every American.