By USARPAC Public AffairsNovember 8, 2013
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Nov. 8, 2013) -- As the nation prepares for Veterans Day ceremonies, parades and personal reflections, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III took time during a visit to Hawaii this week to remind today's Soldiers of the importance of America's veterans.
He also thanked one group of Soldiers for their efforts to support local veterans.
"Hundreds of thousands of American service members have given their lives to provide stability and meet the national objectives of the United States of America. We should never forget and never be in a position where we don't honor their service and sacrifice," he said during a town hall meeting, Nov. 6, at Fort Shafter. "For more than 70 years, the Pacific theater has been a place where many have served -- and spilled their blood -- in many different campaigns and battles."
Since World War II, a myriad of government programs have been developed to assist generations of service members as they return to civilian lives, including healthcare, GI Bill education benefits, home loans, and vocational rehabilitation for those with service-connected disabilities. These programs are largely administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Army's Soldier for Life campaign also supports today's generation of veterans by creating the mindset of "Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier." The campaign was created to enable Army, government and community efforts to facilitate successful reintegration of Soldiers, veterans, and families and instill their values, ethos and leadership into communities. It also helps veterans establish a lasting link to America's Army and current generations of Soldiers.
"This extends beyond Veterans Day; we honor these heroes as Soldiers for Life by standing beside them to ensure that our Soldiers of today and veterans of tomorrow are prepared to achieve lifelong success. Upon transition from the Army, our men and women carry with them the values, knowledge and leadership experiences gained while serving our country. They are highly motivated leaders and role models for their communities and for organizations seeking excellence and commitment," Chandler stated recently.
An example of that connection between generations of Soldiers and their civilian communities took place on the last day of Chandler's visit. For the past several weeks, the U.S. Army Pacific Command partnered with civilian communities, businesses and Veterans Affairs offices to collect canned goods and other household items for a facility that supports veterans on the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station in Hawaii.
On Nov. 7, nearly 400 Army motorcycle riders -- Soldiers and spouses -- gathered at Fort Shafter's Palm Circle for the final phase of the event. As part of a safety ride, they traveled the 20 miles to personally deliver the items collected. Chandler thanked the riders for their participation, reminded them of safety considerations, and said he was envious he could not spend the day with them…on the road and with veterans.
Once the riders and a truckload of donations arrived, the Soldiers spent most of the day connecting with their military predecessors. Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Leota, U.S. Army Pacific Command, played a key role in coordinating the ride and ensured the veterans knew today's Soldiers are working hard to continue their legacy of service to the nation.
Chandler echoed that sentiment to the thousands of Soldiers he spoke to during his three-day visit in Hawaii.
"As Soldiers, we have a duty to look out for one another, to help others. If we do that, then I know our Army will be successful in the future," Chandler said.
Chandler and other Army leaders will participate in the Veterans Day National Observance at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11.