This past year proved to be a great one at the Home of Army Aviation, and I thank each and every one of you for all you have done to make sure our Soldiers, Family members, civilian employees and veterans are well taken care of -- you can all be proud for what you have done for the Army and our nation.

Next year promises to be full of challenges and provide even more opportunities for all of us to contribute keeping this community Army Strong and our nation's military the best in the world.

Enjoy your time with friends and Family in the coming weeks as you celebrate the season, but with your holiday cheer, please keep safety foremost in mind.

If you've been around the military for some time, you know all of these things, and if you're new to the Army, then you're going to be hearing about how to stay safe as you travel to your destination and even if you're staying at home this year, safety should always be first in mind.

All those safety sayings apply because they are tried and true -- buckle up, don't drink and drive, wear a helmet, keep your speed down, don't text and drive, get plenty of rest, remain vigilant, watch out for each other, use risk management in all you do and all the others -- follow them because they will keep you safe.

If alcohol is at all a part of your holiday plans, remember to have a designated driver -- and be ready to have drivers on hand for your guests and non-alcoholic options for those drivers. And, if you see someone trying to drive after "just a few," do your duty and don't allow them to do it. Drinking and driving is just something you can't do or let others do -- your life, and the lives of others, depend on it.

Also, keep an eye out on each other during the holidays, as this can be a stressful time for those in your Family and those you work with. If you see someone who seems to be down or in need of help, get them to the people who can help them. While many people will be all over the country celebrating the holidays, the garrison staff will remain on point with those who can help Soldiers, Family members or employees who are struggling physically, mentally, spiritually or financially.

And if you are the one having a difficult period in your life, know that there is no shame in seeking help. We all need a helping hand at one time or another, and the Army and Fort Rucker's leadership understands this and provides numerous ways of helping people through the tough times. The help is available, so make use of it if you are in need. Seeking help is always the wisest choice.

This community is one of the best teams I have ever been a part of, and it is because of what each one of you do day after day that makes it so -- each one of you is a critical part of our success. Again, have a good time, enjoy your well-deserved time off and stay safe!

Happy holidays everyone, and I hope you have a great New Year! Support and Defend! Above the Best!