To the Editor:

I would like to add my voice to the recent guest editorial by local law enforcement leaders who wrote about why investments in high-quality early education are important not only to children, but also to the health and safety of our communities (“Combat crime with quality early learning,” page A8, Dec. 21).

As a retired Navy officer and a member of the national security organization Mission: Readiness, Military Leaders for Kids, I would like to let readers know that highquality early education is also important to our national security.

The startling reality is that, today, only 25 percent of Americans age 17 to 24 qualify to serve in our military. Almost unbelievably, the other 75 percent are disqualified because they are too poorly educated, have a criminal record or are physically unfit.

One of the most proven ways to meet this challenge is high-quality early education.

As the chiefs and sheriff wrote, rigorous research studies have shown that early education not only reduces later crime, but also increases graduation rates and other academic successes. Research has also shown that child care centers emphasizing nutrition and fitness, and including parents in their efforts, can prevent child obesity.

I join with (Bath Police Chief Michael) Field, (Brunswick Police Chief Richard) Rizzo and (Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel) Merry in asking our public policymakers in Augusta and Washington to do everything they can to preserve and improve access to high-quality early learning programs for at-risk kids.

Investing in early education will have a positive benefit for our children and help keep our country safe and strong.

Vice Adm. Richard Mayo