Inspired and humbled by the sacrifice of our troops

Since I assumed my duties as the 37th chief of staff of the Army, I have gone about trying to get a feel for where we are as an Army in order to help organize my thoughts on where we need to go in the future.

One of the first things I did was go to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit our troops, to see firsthand their achievements and to thank them for their courage, their service and their sacrifice. I’ve visited soldiers and families back home as well, including our Army Corps of Engineers, who are working tirelessly to combat historic flood levels along the Mississippi River Valley. And I traveled to Fort Carson, Colo., to hand out awards at the Wounded Warrior Games. Everywhere I’ve gone, at every stop, I have been inspired by our soldiers’ accomplishments and humbled by their sacrifice and that of their families. 

For nearly a decade, our Army has led the nation in a global war against ruthless enemies, enduring repeated deployments, family separations and the hardships of combat that only veterans can fully understand. Through it all, our soldiers — active, Guard and Reserve — have achieved everything the nation has asked of them and been the living embodiment of American values in ways that should inspire every American.

America has never had a better-organized, better-trained or better-equipped Army. But we are who we are as an Army — the world’s premier land force and our nation’s pre-eminent leadership experience — because of the quality of our people and the depth of their commitment to the ideals that make our Army, and our nation, great. And while we have achieved much in our campaigns against international terror, this war is not over. Our Army has enduring obligations to the nation, and there are more difficult days ahead. Our Army has never failed our nation, and we will meet these challenges head-on in the same professional manner that has characterized our service for 235 years. We will prevail in the wars we’re fighting; prepare for the challenges of an uncertain future; prevent and deter threats against the United States; while preserving the all-volunteer force. 

Since before our nation was founded, America’s Army has stood for freedom and proudly maintained a bond of trust with the American people. We embrace our obligation to preserve and protect liberty at home and abroad and take pride in the unmatched legacy of our predecessors who did the same in places like Bunker Hill, Gettysburg and Normandy. 

To you, the soldiers, veterans and families of America’s Army, I want to say thanks for your dedication and personal sacrifice. This Memorial Day and throughout National Military Appreciation Month, know that all Americans recognize and appreciate your service and are indebted to you for securing our independence, preserving our liberties and protecting our way of life. Army Strong. 

Gen. Dempsey is the chief of staff of the Army, and has served in the military since 1974.