Army bids farewell to its tireless advocate, Dr. Westphal
April 14, 2014
By David Vergun
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 14, 2014) -- Former Under Secretary of the Army Dr. Joseph W. Westphal's "record of achievement and accomplishment these last four-plus years have really been beyond impressive," said Secretary of the Army John McHugh.
The Army's secretary spoke during an April 14 farewell ceremony for Westphal at the Pentagon.
McHugh said that during Westphal's tenure, the former under secretary contributed to increasing education and professional development for Soldiers, civilians and family members; engineered the Army's business transformation as its first chief management officer, or CMO; advocated and improved diversity and opportunity across the Army; developed and expanded relations with Congress, business and academia; and has been "a tireless advocate" for supporting wounded warriors.
As the 30th under secretary of the Army, from September 2009 to March 2014, Westphal's tenure in the position was the second longest in Army history. He was sworn in the same day as McHugh.
"That's a pretty clear testament to his commitment to Soldiers and advocating for the Army," McHugh said, speaking of Westphal's long tenure.
"[Joe] has been my friend, partner, confidant and often my conscience," McHugh continued. "Simply put, he's made my job a whole lot easier. But more importantly, he's made our Army better for his service, insight, hard work and ability."
No stranger to the Army, Westphal served as assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, from 1998 to 2001. In 2001, he served as acting secretary of the Army.
For his part, Westphal said he's been "overwhelmed by the tremendous courage, commitment, honesty and integrity" of the Army family.
Despite budget cuts, sequestration and other adversities, Westphal said "what we should be thinking about is how great this force is." And, he added that he's excited about the Army of the future.
Westphal said he's proud of both his families, his Army family -- "the greatest group of men and women anybody could imagine" -- and his own biological family. The latter, children, grandchildren and others, filled two rows of the Pentagon Auditorium.
During the ceremony, Westphal pulled out a three-by-five card with a message his wife Linda had written for him to read:
"It has been an honor to meet, learn from and get to know some of the most intelligent, compassionate and accomplished leaders, the Army spouses," he read, as he wiped away tears. "They are among the most under-appreciated and unrecognized resources of our country. They are my role models."
Linda Westphal devoted many hours of work in support of Soldiers, civilians and their families and provided assistance to the Military Child Education Coalition, whose goal is to improve the education standards of Army families. For that, McHugh awarded her the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award.
The under secretary too had been involved in education.
McHugh presented Westphal with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, on behalf of the secretary of defense. It reads in part that he was "instrumental in securing funding to replace substandard DOD schools."
The award also notes that Westphal, in his role as CMO, was instrumental in promoting good business practices that increased "sustainability, transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility."
But his most important contributions, the award states, have been to Soldiers and their families, as well as Army civilians. He "promoted programs that contributed to their well-being and improved their quality of life."
McHugh also presented Westphal with the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal and the U.S. Army Leadership Award.
Those awards note that in a time of constrained resources and war, Westphal helped to maintain a force ready to deploy, fight and win wars and ensure leaders had the tools necessary to make good decisions.
Acting Director of the Army National Guard, Maj. Gen. Judd H. Lyons, on behalf of Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief, National Guard Bureau, presented the Minuteman Award to Westphal for his support of the Guard.
Westphal will continue on in government service after moving away from the Army. President Obama recently appointed him the ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
"There's no question in my mind, the president could not have picked a finer man or made a better choice than Joe Westphal," McHugh said.
After the Pentagon ceremony, Westphal was sworn in as ambassador by Vice President Joe Biden.
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