Dempsey Thanks Service Members in Pacific Northwest
By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott A. McCall
Navy Public Affairs Support Element Northwest
SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) October 4, 2012 -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thanked service members and their families from various commands in the Pacific Northwest during a town hall meeting held yesterday on Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor, Wash.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the more than 300 people in attendance he believes that by working together, they will be able to help the country through any challenge it faces.
"The foundation is so solid that we're going to be fine,” Dempsey said. “If you don't remember anything else I say, remember two things: One, thank you for your willingness to serve. And I mean you plural and cumulatively, that's those of you who wear the uniform and those of you who support those who wear the uniform. The second thing is, if you stick together, then we'll be fine."
The highest ranking U.S. military officer said he was very impressed by today’s men and women in uniform.
"We're going to be okay because of you," he said. "I've never met young men and women ... who are so impressive in your intellect, your energy, your dedication, your resilience, your enthusiasm, your optimism, and as long as you keep that by the way, and continue to trust each other we'll get through whatever the world can throw at us."
The chairman took time to thank the family members of a sailor currently deployed on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, which had returned in March from a seven-month deployment to the Gulf region only to deploy again in August, four months earlier than expected.
"We turned [Stennis] around pretty quick," said Dempsey. "We had to do that because we had some challenges in the Gulf region, as you know, and we really needed that extra little touch of America that only an aircraft carrier brings."
During the town hall, Dempsey also spoke about issues affecting all branches of the U.S. armed forces, noting that the military is currently going through a period of transition.
"We're transitioning from a force, especially the ground component, which has been extraordinarily committed to focus like a laser beam, really, on Iraq and Afghanistan and conducting deployments one year on, one year off and that tempo will slow," he said.
Dempsey said another transition the military faces is one from bigger to smaller budgets.
"The Navy and Air Force have done quite a bit of resizing over the last decade or so, and they are not going to do much more resizing, but the Army and Marine Corps will over the next five years to seven years," he said. "And those folks will pass into civilian life, and we need to pass them properly into civilian life, and that's a big transition."
Dempsey also fielded questions from the audience, ranging from issues that affect all branches of service to Navy-specific issues to issues that affect personnel stationed in the Pacific Northwest.
Some of the topics discussed included the Defense Travel System, privatized housing, manning, suicide awareness, military retirement, and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.
"It was pretty good, he was a good speaker," said Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Neal, an electronics technician assigned to Submarine Group 9. "He talked about a couple of the issues, and I was able to get up there and ask him a couple of questions. I really appreciate him taking his time."