I was pleased to join York City Police Chief Wes Kahley at a recent event at Crispus Attucks with Gov. Tom Corbett to support his proposed increases to quality early care and education.

For me, investments in high quality early care and education are a matter of future national security.

The Department of Defense reports that that 75 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are unable to enlist in the military largely because they either fail to graduate from high school, have a criminal record or are physically unfit.

Left unchecked, this level of ineligibility presents a real recruiting problem for the future.

It is clear that Pennsylvania and the nation must do much more to adequately prepare our children.

High-quality early childhood education is a proven way to improve academic performance and increase graduation rates -- making sure more children possess the skills necessary to one day serve as the backbone of our military or civilian workforces.

With this in mind, my fellow retired Generals and Admirals of Mission: Readiness find it unfortunate that less than 17 percent of Pennsylvania's 3- and 4-year olds are served by publicly funded high-quality early education.

Gov. Corbett's proposed increases to Pre-K Counts, Head Start and high-quality child care is a good first step in addressing this large unmet need.

I encourage the Legislature to pass a final budget that upholds these proposed increases.

Lt. Gen. Dennis L. Benchoff

(Retired)

Former Chief of Staff

U.S. Army Recruiting Command