Your Sept. 13 story, "Preschool praised as great crime prevention," made important points about quality early learning. As a retired U.S. Army major general, I see a link to national security as well.

The Department of Defense estimates that only 25 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are eligible for military service. The primary disqualifiers are poor educational achievement, being overweight, or having a criminal record. Expanding access to quality preschool will change this trend by addressing the issues of education and criminality as well.

The proof lies in the study of Michigan's Perry Preschool program that was mentioned in the story, which reduced incarceration rates and boosted high school graduation rates among participating children. A long-term study of children who participated in the Chicago Child-Parent Center program also found higher graduation rates, lower incarceration rates and far fewer who were placed in special education in later years.

Quality preschool programs in several states have also shown a range of benefits, including fewer children being held back in school, a lower need for special education, and math and literacy skills that extended past third grade.

Minnesota should support the early learning proposal discussed in the story to ensure more students are prepared for college and careers, including the military if they choose to serve.