Tribute to the American soldier

“The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms ... We have done so ... because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.”

- President Obama Oslo, Dec. 9, 2009

I recently returned from my eighth visit to see our Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The men and women of our Army are performing magnificently, accomplishing our national objectives and making a difference in the lives of so many.  The personal sacrifice of our Soldiers and their Families to preserve our way of life and build a better future for others says much about the Army’s strength – a 235-year history of strength rooted in our values, our ethos, and our people.

For nearly nine years, our country has been at war against a global extremist network that is fixed on destroying our way of life.  Our Soldiers, their Families, our Army Civilians, Veterans and Retirees know what’s at stake in this struggle, and are working tirelessly to ensure our success.  Over one million of our men and women have deployed to combat.  Almost half of our Guardsmen and Reservists are combat veterans.  Nearly 5,500 have sacrificed their lives.  Over 13,000 have been decorated for valor, including three Medals of Honor, 20 Distinguished Service Crosses, and over 560 Silver Stars.  These are the hallmarks of a professional, resilient, combat-seasoned force dedicated to winning—an accomplished force that the American people can be proud of.

After three years of working with Congress, industry, and local community leaders to ease the stresses and strains of war on the Army, I am beginning to see the first signs that we will be able to restore balance to this force.  We are making progress.  But, we are not out of the woods yet.  Secretary John McHugh and I will continue to work—with your support—to bring this great Army back in balance.

So, as we observe Memorial Day, I ask you to reflect and remember the Soldiers and Army Families in your community...the Survivors who are mourning the loss of a loved one...the Army children who are missing a deployed parent...the Wounded Warriors who are trying to recover quickly so that they can return to the fight.  Your support of the Army Family is what keeps us Army Strong and, in turn, sustains this Nation’s treasure—the All-Volunteer Force. 

Gen. Casey, Jr. is the Chief of Staff of the Army.