WASHINGTON -- In the coming days, I will complete over four decades of active service and my tenure as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Before taking off my uniform for the last time, I wanted to tell you what an honor it has been to serve alongside you and to represent you here in Washington, D.C. and across the globe. More importantly, I wanted to take a minute to simply thank you for who you are and what you do.
Those of you in uniform active, guard, and reserve represent less than one percent of the American people and you’ve answered the call to serve our nation during a time of war.
You chose to challenge yourself to excellence and to be a part of something greater than yourself.
You chose to make a difference.
Across the globe, you stand the watch on sea, air, and land as we simultaneously tackle the challenges associated with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and violent extremism.
And you are driving change to deal with the challenges of the 21st century to include those in space and cyberspace.
Like your predecessors, you are ordinary men and women who hail from across the 50 states and U.S. territories but you routinely demonstrate extraordinary courage, honor, commitment, loyalty, and self-sacrifice.
It’s because of you that I am confident that we can defend the homeland and our way of life. It’s because of you that we have earned the trust and confidence of allies and partners around the world.
It’s because of you that people believe in America.
Over the past four years, I have spoken a lot about the need for our nation to maintain a competitive advantage over any potential adversary. You are our most important competitive advantage and any adversary would think twice about committing an act of aggression because of you.
And all of these words apply equally to our great civil servants who are an integral part of the team.
I’d also like to take a minute to recognize our families. My wife, Ellyn, and I know the unique challenges and sacrifices of military families. But we also know that the U.S. military is strong because of our foundation and our foundation is our families. One of the most rewarding experiences of the last four years has been meeting with military families across the force. Thank you for welcoming us into your homes. Thank you for your willingness to sacrifice and support and thank you for your resilience.
Let me close by saying that as I depart active service, I depart with incredible pride and gratitude, not because I’m a general or the chairman, but simply because I have stood in ranks with the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who wear the cloth of our nation.
Please know that I will remain in proud over watch following my retirement.
God bless you all and Semper Fidelis.