FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (August 27, 2015) -- Not many general officers can tout that their first-star pinning was presided over by the Army's reigning chief of staff. After his promotion ceremony Aug. 20, Brig. Gen. Kevin Vereen can do just that.

Gen. Mark Milley, a former boss of Vereen's, who recently left the position of commander of U.S. Army Forces Command to become the 39th Chief of Staff of the Army, came to Fort Leonard Wood at Vereen's request. While at FORSCOM, Vereen was Milley's executive officer.

"I know you had much more pressing things to do, but you found time to venture out to Fort Leonard Wood, and I am truly honored to have the new Chief of Staff of the Army promote me to the rank of general officer," Vereen said.

Vereen also thanked the Soldiers, who he said had been part of his rise to the rank of brigadier general.

"If there is one thing I do know, it's that officer promotions are not a reflection of what a person has done solely by him or herself," he said. "It is on the backs and shoulders of an extremely valuable asset to our military, but more specifically to our Army -- it is our Soldiers and our noncommissioned officers."

Milley reflected on Vereen's rise through the ranks.

"Kevin commissioned back in 1988, and making general officer is really hard, very competitive," Milley said. "There were almost 6,000 second lieutenants commissioned in 1988, and in Kevin's class of 1988, those selected for brigadier general have been less than five or six at this point."

The newest Army chief of staff told the crowd exactly why Vereen was selected for promotion to general officer.

"To go from 6,000 to five or six, you can imagine the degree of competition it is to make brigadier general," he said. "We're an institution of standards; we're an institution that has very high standards . . . we take great pride in really taking a hard look at who becomes our senior leaders . . . because they have our nation's single most important asset in their hands -- and that's the sons and daughters of our nation. We are the senior leaders of those sons and daughters, and Kevin is no exception."

Once again, Vereen honored the enlisted service members with whom he has served.

"So, today this promotion is a ceremony where I want to honor you -- those Soldiers and noncommissioned officers who took me to task each and every day and made me who I am today," Vereen said. "Thank you for letting me play on the team."