By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. OdiernoApril 29, 2014
Good evening. It's great to see so many people out here. This kicks off our season of doing these reviews, which will go throughout the summer. This is an opportunity for us to show off some of our great soldiers, but also to have people understand who we are and what we are about--about the history of our Army. And so I appreciate everyone being here today.
I'd like to begin by recognizing the Soldiers standing behind me here tonight who represent the exacting standards and discipline inherent to the greatest Army in the world. We are very fortunate to have with us "Pershing's Own" -- the United States Army Band, and the Soldiers of the Old Guard, including the Fife and Drum Corps, the Presidential Salute Battery, and the US Army Drill Team, which you'll have the opportunity to see a bit later.
I would also like to welcome all of our distinguished guests. Thanks to General and Mrs. Campbell, Sergeant Major of the Army and Mrs. Chandler, all of our assistant secretaries, primary staff, Commanders, and Command Sergeant Majors from across our Army for joining us here today.
Tonight, we have a chance to look back on the Army and on our Nation's history. Usually we do this out on Whipple Field, where you have the opportunity to oversee the Capital, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. Sometimes, we take our country for granted. But for those of us in uniform who have had the opportunity to spend time around the world, I will tell you that when you get back home, you realize just how fortunate we are. The liberty and freedoms that we have here are rare and they simply aren't the same anywhere else in the world.
As an Army and as a Nation, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, who sacrificed so that we might stand here. We are reminded of that every day as we overlook Arlington Cemetary. It's a constant reminder of the costs and sacrifices that so many have made for this great country. But also, it reminds me that there are many ways to serve, and many ways to give back. And today, I have the honor of presenting the Outstanding Civilian Service Award to four exceptional men and women: Mike Duke, Roger Goodell, Cheryl Jensen, and Barbara Van Dahlen.
Our first awardee is Mike Duke. Mike is a committed and innovative supporter of the Armed Forces who is profoundly dedicated to the welfare of service members, Veterans, and their Families. As President and Chief Executive of Wal-Mart, Mike launched the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment, an unprecedented program that promises to hire any honorably discharged veteran who applies. Wal-Mart aims to hire 100,000 Veterans by 2018, which is simply amazing.
Mike and Wal-Mart have not stopped there. From the "Military Family Promise" to "Hiring our Heroes," Wal-Mart has graciously saluted and invested in those who serve. In addition, your organization has challenged other large corporations to offer hiring opportunities to the greater military family.
Sam Walton once said that "We all work together. That's the secret." So taking Sam's wisdom, Mike works together with our uniformed men and women in a heartfelt showing of support. Mike and Wal-Mart serve those who nobly serve us, much to the good of our communities and our Nation. Mike, thank you very much and to Wal-Mart for all that you do, and that you will continue to do. The Army salutes you.
Our next awardee is Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League. Roger, your dedication to our Soldiers and their families has been phenomenal. You have shown tremendous leadership in raising awareness of traumatic brain injuries, which affect not only players in the NFL but our Soldiers. In addition, the NFL, in partnership with the USO, diligently supports our troops overseas to improve the morale of our deployed forces.
Under the Commissioner's tutelage, the NFL also honors Soldiers and their Families on the home front. In 2012, the NFL launched "Salute to Service," in which each of the 32 teams pays tribute to the US Armed Forces. The league invites service members to take part in pre-game and on-field ceremonies, from the Draft to regular season to the Super Bowl. The NFL's commitment to Military Support Organizations, such as the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project, has simply been extraordinary.
No matter where you go, you'll find the NFL reaching out to Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families. Commissioner, your personal leadership has made a real difference to all of us who serve in uniform. On behalf of the Army, we salute you, Sir. Thank you so much for what you do.
Cheryl Jensen joins us from Vail, Colorado, here today with her husband, Bill. In 2004, Cheryl founded the Vail Veterans Program to help wounded Soldiers rebuild their lives after war and reintegrate into civilian life. Cheryl's hard work has been awe-inspiring. What began as a single outdoors rehabilitation weekend has grown to three multi-day events throughout the year for wounded Veterans, their Families, and care-givers.
Cheryl tailors her programs, which are fully funded, for each Warrior and their Family. These range from whitewater rafting to skeet shooting, zip line tours to horseback riding, skiing to snowboarding, bowling to mountainside dining. All of the programs are designed to help our heroes rebuild their confidence, heal, and transition into a vibrant, active new life. And I can tell you from personal experience that it works.
The Vail Veterans have welcomed in more than 500 Wounded Warriors and more than 1,000 family members and caregivers. You have given back to those who have given so much, offering them hope and a renewed sense of purpose.
Cheryl, your contributions to our injured servicemen and women have had profound impacts on them, their Families, and the Army. You have built a support community of love and compassion, and have reminded us all the meaning of kindness as you honor those who serve and sacrifice. Thank you, Cheryl. All of us are so grateful for your steadfast commitment to our wounded warriors.
Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen is accompanied by her husband, Dr. Randy Phelps. Barbara is the President of Give an Hour, which she founded in 2005. Give an Hour connects mental health professionals from throughout the country who offer counseling and assistance to service members, Veterans, and their Families free of charge. Borne out of mental health concerns resulting from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Give an Hour boasts more than 6,700 providers who have contributed immeasurably to our troops and their families.
Barbara has also led an effort to offer complimentary health care to National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, while reaching out to the larger public as a Community Blueprint board member. I am amazed by your commitment to our Soldiers, our Veterans, and their Families. You are an innovative, impassioned leader who galvanizes communities and unites professionals in a common, giving cause.
Barbara has written that "Americans are a generous people. We will open our hearts and give our time to assist those in need." By your example, we are reminded of that spirit of generosity--how you and your colleagues give back and help our own, because that is what we do best. It is dedicated Americans like Barbara that make us realize how lucky we are to live in this great country. Thank you for your unwavering support to our Soldiers and Family members.
These four honorable men and women have all taught us lessons about service. Their steadfast commitment to our Soldiers has been unwavering. They reach out for the simple yet profound reason that they love their country and have a deep respect for those who serve and for their families who stand by them. Mike, Roger, Cheryl, and Barbara, you are great examples to us all. We are indebted to each and every one of you, and tonight, we are proud to salute you.
The strength of our Nation is our Army
The strength of our Army is our Soldiers
The strength of our Soldiers is our Families
And that is what makes us Army Strong!
Thank you very much.