Over the past few weeks, I have had numerous discussions with Arkansans who can not afford to maintain regular contact with their loved ones serving in the U.S. military overseas. This is deeply troubling to me, and something I feel committed to help resolve.

Yesterday I sent a letter to the President urging him to include funding in his Fiscal Year 2008 budget request to help members of the U.S. military serving overseas call their loved ones free of charge. Helping our servicemen and women stay in contact with their families is the best way to lift troop morale and improve the overall effectiveness of military operations. Our military families sacrifice so much for this country. The least we can do is provide them with the resources to stay in contact during long deployments overseas.

The typical military calling card offered by retail telephone companies can charge $0.50 a minute for international calls. A military family who talks with their loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan for just thirty minutes a week can spend up to $750 a year. Our military families should not have to struggle with this expense. I hope President Bush takes my request seriously and makes this a priority in his defense budget proposal.