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Dempsey Hails Volunteerism, Communities

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2013 – After more than a decade of war and facing an ebbing budget, the Defense Department's connection to communities and private organizations will be increasingly important, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today at the 2013 Service Unites Conference on Volunteering and Service.

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey addresses an audience at Points of Light's Conference on Volunteering and Service Military Summit in Washington D.C., June 21, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Force reductions come in concert with a new energy and an opportunity to protect the way of life for the all-volunteer force, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told attendees at the final day of the four-day conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

“We will need to be partnered with governmental agencies, but importantly with private organizations, for the foreseeable future if we hope to have any chance of doing what’s right for these men and women who serve their country so selflessly,” the chairman said.

Conference host Points of Light is just one of the volunteer organizations partnering with DOD. According to the organization’s website, by 2015 it aims to reach 50 million people annually to raise their awareness and inspire them to make a difference through community projects and volunteerism.

Dempsey noted that on today’s date in 1787, New Hampshire ratified the U.S. Constitution, thereby enacting it into law. He emphasized the first line of the preamble -– “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union …”

“I think the framers even then understood that the future of the United States was somewhat related to the ability of our government to account for the needs of the people and to provide governance and structure,” he said. “It’s ‘we the people’ who come together when something needs to be done and we work to get it done.”

The general noted that the best solutions tend to be those that derive from the bottom up, not from the top down.

“There is no template of how to engage and help and support those who wear the uniform,” he said. “I hope you can help us think our way through the challenges ahead and find local solutions that may not always be applicable nationwide but might really work where you work or live.”

The chairman noted July 1 will be the 40th anniversary of the all-volunteer force. The last service members to be drafted into the armed forces reported for duty in June 1973.

From that point forward, young men and women volunteered to serve their country, Dempsey said. “‘We the country’ have to make a commitment to those who serve, equal to this commitment that those who serve make to the country.”

Dempsey urged all Americans to remember that it is volunteers who now protect the nation and its freedom.

“Anything we can do for them through this public-private partnership is … worthy of the effort and worthy of their sacrifices,” he said.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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