FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., June 24 2011 - The Army's top officer, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey visited with Fort Campbell Soldiers and Families June 23, taking the time to thank them for the sacrifices they have born in service to their country.
The 37th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army toured the installation and some of its facilities, met with senior leadership and held a Family Forum, which gave Soldiers and their Families an opportunity to voice some of their concerns with everything ranging from housing, behavioral health and recreation.
"Fort Campbell, the 101st, the 5th Special Forces Group and all the other folks here - they've been carrying a fairly significant share of the load," said Dempsey. "They've deployed, I think, more than any other [major] unit in the Army. They've had some incredible successes in both Iraq and Afghanistan and frankly I wanted to come down and tell them thank you and to also give them some thoughts on where we might be headed in the future."
He said he appreciated that many Families brought their children to the forum that he co-hosted with his wife, Deanie and the frank assessment that Soldier's spouses can provide.
"I love visiting with Soldiers and Families," said Dempsey. "No one is as candid with you as a Soldier and a Soldier's spouse."
Dempsey stressed the importance of the Army Family and the Fort Campbell community of excellence.
"That's the image we want," he said. "Soldiers, Families and children united in a common purpose, part of a profession where we have to trust each other if we are going to move ahead."
Dempsey explained he appreciates what the 101st has done, especially since his first tour to Iraq in 2003, when he served with the 1st Armor Division and worked with Gen. Raymond Odierno, who will replace Dempsey as the next Chief of Staff of the Army.
Dempsey has been tapped to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - the military's highest ranking officer and the president's primary military advisor.
The Army's senior leader repeatedly thanked Fort Campbell Soldiers and their Families for what they have done during the past 10 years and encouraged them to press on, despite global uncertainties.
"My message to them is thanks for what you've done, continue to be ready for that uncertain future," said Dempsey. "Be proud of yourselves and your Families and your children for the role that they've played. [Don't] be distracted by the discretions about the budget; I'll take care of that. We will preserve our commitment to their training and to their Family programs, our Wounded Warriors and our Gold Star Families. It is really a commitment that as we go forward that despite the uncertainty, we are going to be OK."
He said that he enjoyed his visit to Fort Campbell and gave a nod to the Screaming Eagles for continuing their rendezvous with destiny and continuously adding to their heritage and esprit de corps.
"I've held a deep appreciation for what this division provides not only in terms of its capabilities, but also the spirit," said Dempsey. "What you want is an Army that can not only deliver, but also is proud of its self, is aware of its history and believes it can make a difference. It is actually a sense of trust and I sense that those assigned to this division have a great deal of trust in each other. That's the kind of foundation of the Army I want to be a part of," he said. "It is an inspirational place," Dempsey said. "They have really written another page in their extensive history and I think it's one of those places you come to remember, why we do what we do."