WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 19, 2013) -- Working during very challenging times, the third-highest ranking civilian in the Army, Thomas R. Lamont, made significant contributions to the total force, said the secretary of the Army.

Secretary John McHugh and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell were among the Army personnel who attended an awards and retirement ceremony for Lamont at the Pentagon, Sept. 19, 2013.

Lamont, the assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, tackled many critical issues in his more than four years in the post, said McHugh.

"His mark will be left and will be felt for years, and in some areas critically important to this Army, it will be left and felt for decades to come," he said.

McHugh said Lamont's achievements include the development of policy to allow openly gay Soldiers to serve, and to open Army jobs and units -- including direct combat units -- to female Soldiers.

He also provided leadership on critical issues and thinking, said McHugh, regarding the Army drawdown and on issues that strengthened force protection and improved the Army's ability to protect its people, mission, networks and infrastructure.

He provided energy, vision and leadership in one of the Army's most critical offices during one of its most challenging times, said McHugh.

"He's worked tirelessly and made a real difference by improving the well-being of the total Army force," said McHugh.

Lamont outlined the many important issues he worked on during his time in the post, including Soldier transition, Army end-strength reduction, civilian job cuts and furloughs, preventing suicide and preventing sexual assaults.

"The Army is faced with many challenges and with numerous and very tough decisions," he said, adding that: "I have no doubt that we will fight through these challenges as well."

He thanked his wife, Bridget Lamont, for her support through the years. He also paid tribute to the staff at Manpower and Reserve Affairs, saying they were extremely dedicated professionals.

"I leave with a heavy heart knowing it's time, but also knowing full well I will not again serve in such a rewarding position or with such highly dedicated individuals," he said.

"It has indeed been a privilege, and I thank you all very much," said Lamont, a retired Illinois National Guard colonel with more than 26 years' service in the Judge Advocate General Corps.

At the ceremony, Lamont received the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the U.S. Army Leadership Award, and the Horatio Gates honorary medal.

His wife was presented the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award for volunteering "countless hours to improving quality of life and morale across the total Army force," including supporting wounded warriors and their families.

McHugh's speech included a few friendly jabs on their different political affiliations and Lamont's passionate nature on issues, but, McHugh said he counts Lamont as a trusted advisor and it is "bittersweet" saying goodbye.

"I thank you for your service, your leadership, and above all your friendship," said McHugh.