WEST POINT, N.Y.--The Army wants only the best of the best.

On Jan. 26th, Lt. Gen. Nadja West, The Surgeon General of the Army, spoke at West Point to prospective cadets and their parents during one of the Inspire Dinners, this one sponsored by the Diversity Admissions Office, and held at the Thayer Hotel on post.

The goal was to convince future leaders that West Point was right for them.

West is a graduate of West Point. She said she has a sense of awe every time she comes through the gate at West Point. "I am humbled to stand before you as a product of this institution," she said.

"West Point was a great gift to me," West said. "This campus is a monument to service, and I felt it every day I was a cadet here and every day I have visited here since."

She thanked the cadets in attendance for acting as sponsors of the candidates, and the candidates and their families for coming to learn about the institution that gave her "so many opportunities."

"These are just the first few days of your journey," she said to the prospective cadets.

For some of those in the audience, the journey began that evening when more than fifteen students were thrilled to learn of their future status by receiving either a certificate of acceptance to West Point or conditional acceptance to the preparatory school.

West told part of her story. "When I was a cadet here, over 35 years ago, I never would have imagined I would be the Army Surgeon General and the Commanding General of US Army Medical Command. I also never would have imagined I would be asked to come back and speak at an event like this."

West talked about her leadership role in the Army and as commander of 140,000 medical and support personnel with a budget of more than $12 billion. Her skills and experience as a leader began at West Point, she said.

West told the students that service was more important than simply knowing what you do. She said it was also essential to know what you are FOR.

I am for serving, she said. "Serving my God … Serving my Nation … Serving other Soldiers … and Serving my Family. And I lead an organization that is FOR saving lives."

The Army is the protection of this Nation, and I see Army Medicine as the protection of the Army, West said. To take care of our Soldiers, our medical professionals ensure our Soldiers receive the care they need and the care they deserve from the forward edge of battle all the way back to the U.S.

Our nation's mothers and fathers send their sons and daughters, just like you, to answer their nation's call knowing that we will take care of them. This is what I love most about our Army and my Army Medicine. We take care of our people. That is what we are FOR.

West encouraged the students to decide what they are for. "When you know what you are FOR," she said, "the 'what you do' part becomes easy. I urge you to think through what you are for. Your willingness to spend time here is a pretty good indicator of what you are for."

When I look in your eyes, West said, and see your inquisitiveness and motivation to serve, I see the best and brightest our Nation has to offer. I think you inspire me more than I could ever inspire you.

"I look around this room and see leadership being developed," she said.

"Don't every let self-doubts keep you from trying," West concluded. "Set your sights high and never let anyone dissuade you from your dreams."