WASHINGTON -- The greatest honor of my life has been my associations with you -- the Soldiers, Families, and Civilians of the U.S. Army. My nearly forty-year journey from Second Lieutenant Speer to Acting Secretary of the Army has provided me with unforgettable experiences across the full range of emotions. The experiences I cherish the most are those moments that connected me to others who understand the true meaning of service; those who forego convenience and comfort; who sacrifice individually for a higher collective good; and nobly defend our freedoms and the ideals our of nation.

When I returned to the Pentagon in 2009 I expected to spend two or three years in financial management and return to the private sector. I never imagined I'd still be here almost eight years later. During that time I've had the opportunity to meet with many of you. From visiting Soldiers in support of Counterinsurgency Operations, to those conducting the toughest and most realistic training of any Army in the world; from commemorating our heroes of WWI, to listening to Family members at town hall events; from recognizing our invaluable civilian workforce to visiting vital industrial base locations. I am leaving inspired by your service, reassured by your professionalism and expertise, and humbled by the privilege of working on your behalf. I remain a Soldier for Life.

I have met our new extraordinary leaders and assure you the Army is in extremely capable hands. I'm confident that readiness, the future of our Army, and the Soldiers, Civilians, and Army Families will continue to be the primary focus. One constant in the Army's 242-year history is forward progress, guided by dedicated leaders. Our Army continues to meet global challenges head-on. Our Soldiers continue securing our homeland and countering overseas threats. I take great consolation in knowing you are out there, always vigilant, always ready, and prepared to carry the fight to any foe who would threaten our country. Thank you for your commitment, your patriotism, your compassion, and your dedication to duty -- you exemplify the best of America.