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To the Editor:

I would like to thank the business executives who support investments in early childhood programs ("Business leaders meet to stress importance of child care to workers," March 27), and add my own perspective.

High-quality child care is not only important for a strong economy but also for our national security. Right now, military service is not an option for 70 percent of our state's 17- to 24-year-olds. Plus, our nation risks an even smaller recruiting pool for military service in the future, if we do not strengthen early care and education.

Good child care programs address the leading reasons barring Americans from military service. Obesity is one reason that nearly one-third of young Americans do not qualify. This is followed by lack of a high school diploma, failing the military's entrance exam, or carrying a criminal or drug-abuse record. Studies show that high-quality child care can support children's overall success in these areas, and thus our nation's military readiness over the long haul.

As a part of the larger early childhood system, high-quality child care programs can help ensure kids get the support they need early on. Programs that emphasize healthy eating and physical activity reduce children's risk of obesity. Children are also better prepared to succeed in school, and encounter fewer behavioral issues later in life.

Given the long-term benefits of high-quality care to children's development, its support is an investment in our country's security.

Johnny R. Miller

U.S. Army

Tamms

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