By Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Louis Taylor (Army Reserve)June 20, 2013
CHICAGO, Ill. -- General Daniel B. Allyn, Commanding General of United States Army Forces Command was welcomed throughout Chicago on June 12 through 14 to celebrate the 238th birthday of the U.S. Army.
Allyn traveled to Chicago to celebrate the U.S. Army's 238th birthday and to speak on a Soldier for Life panel with Army senior leaders discussing Army transition assistance programs and the benefits for companies in hiring Soldiers and veterans.
Allyn arrived to Chicago receiving a unique opportunity meeting and communicating with Chicagoans at the Stanley Cup finals opener as the Chicago Blackhawks played the Boston Bruins. Allyn, active hockey fan, stated that although the game was spectacular, the true highlight was being able to meet and spend time with World War II veteran, Ray Morley, who was honored on center ice throughout the game.
"His humility, his courage, and his inspiring service to our country is exactly why people continue to serve today to sustain the legacy that the 'greatest generation' of WWII started," said Allyn. "That by far was the most inspiring part of the evening."
The following day Allyn began continued the Army Birthday celebration by throwing the first pitch at the Chicago Cubs home game at Wrigley Field playing the Cincinnati Reds.
"It's an awesome way to celebrate America's 238th Army Birthday, and what better way to celebrate it than at America's sport, baseball," said Allyn.
The Army Birthday celebration culminated at a Soldier for Life panel held at the Union League Club of Chicago. Allyn participated on the panel with Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei, Adjutant General, Ill. National Guard; Brig. Gen. Kevin G. O'Connell, Commanding General of U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command; Erica J. Borggren, Director, Ill. Department of Veterans' Affairs and Joe Cantafio, National Veterans Museum, to enable Soldiers to stay connected to the military and have the necessary services they need to successfully transition back to the community from military service. The panel also wanted to enable communities to understand the opportunities they have in employing Soldiers and the values and discipline that Soldiers retain and will bring to their organization.
"Those skills, attributes, and values (that) they (Soldiers) are reviewed with throughout their service in uniform are exactly the same skills and attributes that will strengthen any team they join when they return back to civilian life," said Allyn. "They are disciplined, skilled and experts in their craft. They are committed men and women of integrity and character and their service will strengthen whatever organization brings them on board."
According to Allyn, a full spectrum effort is designed beginning a year before a Soldier is scheduled to separate from the military. This process provides the Soldier a clearer understanding and smooth transition back to the community they are reintegrating into.
Allyn stated that over 600,000 Army Reserve Soldiers served in combat over the last decade and they all return to their jobs when they transition home. From 2006 to 2011, 850,000 Soldiers returned back to communities in the United States and they returned back to all but 20 counties across all 50 states.
"They (soldiers) are everywhere in our communities across the country and they need, deserve and must have the support and commitment from all of us to ensure they (Soldiers) strengthen and improve the community just in the same way they did for the best Army in the world," said Allyn.
The panel closed with a cake cutting ceremony conducted by Guy Maras, Union League Club President; Allyn; Allen Lynch, Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient; and Borggren.
Before Allyn departed Chicago, he shared what the Army meant to him, and shared insight from oral history that stated the U.S. Army predates the birth of our nation and our flag as our Army was stood up by the second continental congress in 1775 to secure the nation.
"Our nation is strong today because of the strength of our Army and our Army is strong today because of the strength of our Soldier, the strength of our families, and the commitment our nation has for our Army," said Allyn. "So celebrating our birthday is important and gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the 238 years of our Army and our nation's history and the integrated role that our Army has played in the freedoms that we enjoy today. So it's strength for today and strength for the future of our nation and we celebrate that today."