I consider Chicago Tribune columnists John Kass, Mary Schmich, and Paul Sullivan close friends. I don’t know them personally. But I share coffee with them every morning. That was, however, until I deployed to Afghanistan.

Thankfully, my family still sends copies of the Tribune in care packages—usually three to four weeks old. But I read them anyway. In fact, David Haugh’s “The White Sox are ready to contend again,” hangs in my room. His article is more than just a piece of pulp—it’s a reminder of home. I love getting the Tribune in the mail. It is more than just a newspaper because it offers more than just the news.

Traveling to the other side of the world, I now read the Stars & Stripes. With limited internet, this paper keeps me connected to everything going on back home. Its independent reporting informs me about the policies and decisions that directly affect me in Afghanistan. It helps me stay abreast of current events around the world. And every now and then, I will catch a Tribune article. For us deployed overseas, the Stars & Stripes serves as a vital link to our lives back home. But the Pentagon plans to cut its funding.

Elaine McCusker—the Pentagon’s acting comptroller—told reporters, “We have essentially decided coming into the modern age that newspaper is probably not the best way to communicate any longer.” She is right.

But the Stars & Stripes is an independent newspaper. It is not the Pentagon’s soapbox. My leadership tells me everything I need to know—the Stars & Stripes tells me everything else. In a $705 billion budget, cutting the paper’s $7 million operating costs will rob America’s fighting men and women far more than it will save the Pentagon.

If you support our men and women overseas, tell Congress to fund the Stars & Stripes. Our very own Senator Duckworth sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee—the body responsible for approving the Pentagon’s budget. Tell her that our deployed servicemen and women deserve the Stars & Stripes because it offers them more than just the news—it’s a piece of home we can hold in our hands.

Capt Kevin D. Ryan

Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan