Last week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin E. Dempsey and the Joint Chiefs signed a letter addressed to all transitioning service members. The letter urges them to exercise the leadership they learned in their military service to help a fellow veteran navigate the uncertain waters of transition. The letter urges them to become leaders in their communities.
Long after veterans take off the uniform for the final time, they continue to carry the experiences and the culture of service. Stretching across generations of veterans, the bonds of military service extend beyond the uniform into communities at home that will provide purpose and new opportunities for service. This service to community will inspire and give rise to the next generation of Americans who will volunteer to place service above self -- many of whom will take their place in the ranks of future Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen before returning home themselves as leaders. Read the full text of the letter below or view the letter itself here.
2 February 2015
To All Who Have Served in Uniform Since 9/11,
You and your families stepped forward as volunteers when our Nation needed you, and you excelled. For over a decade of war, you demonstrated the courage, resilience, and adaptability that are the hallmarks of the American military. Thank you for wearing our Nation’s uniform.
Your dedication to those serving on your right and left has been unwavering, and your commitment to a cause greater than yourself has been inspiring. Be proud of what you have done for your country and for those people in other countries who share in the dream of a better future.
Over the last 13 years, you have written a new chapter in American military history while honoring the legacy of the generations of veterans who served before you. Their sacrifices paved the way for our welcome home—we build our legacy on their shoulders. It is appropriate to recognize and thank them as we join their ranks.
It is also appropriate to follow the example they set when they took off the uniform. Those previous generations of veterans understood that they had an opportunity—and a responsibility—to continue serving. Your generation will also help guide our country’s destiny.
While the transition to civilian life brings new challenges, the American public stands ready to welcome you home. As a veteran, your country still needs your experience, intellect, and character. Even out of uniform, you still have a role in providing for the security and sustained health of our democracy. No matter what you choose to do in your next chapter, you will continue to make a difference. The opportunity for leadership is yours.
We trust that you will accept this challenge and join ranks with the business leaders, volunteers, and public servants in your communities. You have made your mark in uniform and represent the strength of our Nation. We know you will do the same as veterans, setting the example for the next generation of veterans to follow.
We thank you and your families for your service and for your continued dedication to the United States of America. It has been our greatest privilege to serve with you, and we look forward with pride to what your future holds. We know it will be extraordinary.
Martin E. Dempsey, General, U.S. Army, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Admiral, U.S. Navy, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Raymond T. Odierno, General, U.S. Army, Chief of Staff of the Army
Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Jonathan W. Greenert, Admiral, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations
Mark A. Welsh III, General, U.S. Air Force, Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Frank J. Grass, General, U.S. Army, Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Paul F. Zukunft, Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commandant of the Coast Guard
Colonel Steve Parker, U.S. Army, is the Executive Director of Joining Forces.