Retired Army chief of staff visits Soldiers, Families
April 6, 2010
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - One of the Army's foremost leaders, past or present, visited 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers and Families to gain some understanding about any concerns they may have.
Retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, Association of the United States Army president and 32nd Army chief of staff, came to post March 24-25 to talk with members of the Fort Drum community and see what he can do to help make lives better for those serving in the North Country.
"I am here to refresh my memory on what a great post this is and to see what I can do to help not only the local AUSA chapter, but also the leaders and commanders of Fort Drum," Sullivan said.
Sullivan officially began his visit March 25 when he had breakfast with members of the division's command staff and received a briefing about operational tempo and changes happening at Fort Drum.
After the briefing, Sullivan met with Soldiers and Family Members to discuss issues from housing to health care.
"It is good to see faces that you don't normally get to see and hear how they feel about certain issues and what they are doing about them," said Pfc. Ben Lykens, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion. "I learned that people care about us more than I thought they did, and that is always good to know."
Other Soldiers talked about how meeting with the current AUSA president and sharing important issues with him can only benefit Soldiers and Families serving their country.
"This was a great opportunity for Soldiers to meet with a former Army chief of staff and let him know the issues they are facing," said 1st Lt. Robert Busby, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Sustainment Brigade Troops Battalion. "For us to be able to share our experiences with someone who can pass that information off to those in Congress who can change things means a lot."
While talking with Family Members, Sullivan listened to concerns and shared his knowledge about programs the Army has established to help ease the strain on Families during a time of continued deployments.
"This was very informative," said Busby's wife, Tonie. "I appreciate the fact that the spouses were able to sit down with (him) and have our voices heard, because we often feel like the unsung heroes pushing up and supporting our Soldiers.
"It is a big issue for spouses to know that we are being listened to," she added.
Sullivan also received a tour of Fort Drum, giving him an opportunity to see how the post is growing and changing to support Soldiers and Family Members who call the North Country home.
"First of all, I've confirmed what I have known for almost 20 years now - that this is a very busy unit, a very proud unit, and I have learned that there is a lot of caring leadership here," Sullivan said. "What I have also learned is a reaffirmation of what I have always known: the North Country is always supportive of the Army and the Soldiers here. The community has supported us for 25 years now in really important ways, especially taking care of our wounded warriors.
"Just knowing that the civilians living in this area respect the Soldiers and Family Members for their selfless service to the nation is very important," he added.
Before departing, Sullivan discussed issues ranging from a growing Army to troop readiness to transformation and force modernization efforts. He also talked about how 10th Mountain Division Soldiers continue to be the tip of the spear in the global war on terrorism.
"In AUSA, our job is to be the voice for the Army, the Soldiers, the Family Members and those who support the Army," Sullivan said. "Also to say two words to everybody in uniform and out: 'thank you.' Thank you for what you have done, especially during these past 10 years, very difficult years. Thank you for your support."