MANHATTAN, Kan. (Oct. 9, 2012) -- The traits that have defined America's service members since the birth of the nation are the same qualities that will be the foundation of a strong United States far into the future, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a visit to Kansas State University, Oct. 1.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that today's fighting men and women are who they have always been, individuals shaped by courage, loyalty, resilience, resolve, adaptability, and a passionate curiosity. These qualities, the chairman said, are what will make this generation of veterans vital to the future success of the nation.
"We have to allow this generation to contribute," Dempsey said. "If we want a stronger America, we need to find a way to make our veterans a part of it."
Turning up the volume on the national conversation about how to help veterans return to work, school and their families following more than a decade of war was the primary message Dempsey shared with more than 1,000 1st Infantry Division Soldiers, Flint Hills community members, students and faculty members during a speech at K-State's McCain Auditorium.
The 160th person to speak as part of the university's Landon Lecture series, Dempsey spent more than an hour discussing cyber security, the nation's new fiscal environment, the changing face of America's military, the evolving nature of global conflict, and other "important issues of the day."
"The changes we are facing are a little unsettling but I want you to know we will be fine," he said. "Bloom where you are planted -- you take care of Fort Riley (Kan.), I'll take care of (Washington) D.C."
Following his remarks at K-State, the general traveled to Fort Riley where Soldiers assigned to the Big Red One's Combat Aviation Brigade showed off their newest pieces of equipment, the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System and Apache Block III helicopter. Dempsey concluded his visit to the home of the 1st Infantry Division with a town hall meeting with the post's Soldiers, Family members and civilian workforce.
Dempsey, who visited with 1st Infantry Division troops in Afghanistan less than one month ago, said he was very impressed with the Big Red One Soldiers and their commitment to accomplishing the objectives the nation has set for Afghanistan.
"They are doing extremely well," Dempsey said of the Big Red One troops. "I sensed clarity there, a good understanding of what needs to be done."
Acknowledging that all branches of the armed forces are facing some potentially disruptive days ahead, Dempsey said that he is confident that the right people are in the right places to make the important decisions for the future.
"We are going to roll up our sleeves together with the finest leaders we have ever grown in our Army," he said. "We are going to figure this out; we have to figure this out."