I try to tell our First Army team this as often as possible: What you do matters.

With the amount of time I spend on the road – traveling throughout our geographically dispersed footprint – I don’t get to say that in person as often as I would like.

But I want to take this opportunity to share some recent, concrete examples of your great work in action.

Up until just days before the war began in Ukraine, some 150 Soldiers from the Florida National Guard were training the Ukrainian military to defend itself against a potential Russian incursion. Little did we know how quickly the entire world would see the professionalism and resolve of those well-trained Ukrainian troops.

Indeed, since 2015, following Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, 11 Army units have deployed for the Ukraine training mission – comprised almost entirely of Soldiers from the Army National Guard and mobilized through First Army.

In a dangerous corner of the world, where outcomes have grave global consequences and where the training of our allies carries the weight of life or death, what you do matters.

In late January, ISIS fighters led a violent assault and attempted prison break in Syria. Fierce fighting raged for nearly a week, making it the largest ISIS uprising in three years. One of the key units involved in regaining control of the prison – and securing the surrender of thousands of ISIS fighters – was the 1-163 Combined Armed Battalion, a unit of Citizen Soldiers headquartered in Montana.

The 1-163 CAB had recently deployed after an excellent Culminating Training Event with First Army. To prepare for their mission, they had conducted platoon and company live-fire exercises at Fort Bliss, Texas, with the support of our 5th Armored and 189th Infantry brigades.

In an arid corner of northwest Syria, in a fight against those who would do harm to this nation and her brave sons and daughters, what you do matters.

CSM McDwyer and I recently visited the National Capital Region’s Integrated Air Defense Mission. This is the critical mission to defend Washington D.C.’s airspace from hostile aerial threats, established after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Army National Guard and Air National Guard carry the entirety of that responsibility.

We were so impressed by the professionalism of the young non-commissioned officers and Soldiers we met there. Some of these Citizen Soldiers have deployed – through First Army – again and again on this unique over watch mission. For one chief warrant officer, it was his tenth rotation since 2004. Incredible.

In our nation’s capital – in airspace once breached by terrorists, over our most hallowed halls of government and beloved national monuments – what you do matters.

First Army’s mission is truly unique: We are the only unit in the Army devoted 24/7 to enabling the Total Force. By increasing baseline reserve component readiness, First Army guarantees America’s defense posture and ensures this nation can flex in the event of any global contingency. We serve as a deterrent to adversaries who understand America can swell the size of our fighting force quickly and effectively thanks to the work each of you are doing every day.

During this time of great-power competition and increased worldwide uncertainly, that mission is truly more essential than ever.

What you do matters.