Rumsfeld, Military Leaders Thank Civilian Leaders for Troop Support
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2006 Defense leaders took time today to thank civilian leaders who have demonstrated solid support for men and women in uniform.
The civilian leaders, at the Pentagon for an alumni meeting of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, represent a "who's who" of civilian business owners, chief executive officers, educators, local politicians and civic leaders. All have participated in the JCOC program and many serve as advocates for military members in their communities and businesses.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lauded the group members' efforts and those of others supporting military members in myriad ways. He cited the success of DoD's "America Supports You" program, which he said has blossomed since its inception in November 2004. That program spotlights what Americans are doing to support the military, encourages others to join the military, and provides a forum for them to share their efforts.
The the American public's outpouring of support for the military "is really something pretty special to us," Army Brig. Gen. Carter F. Ham, deputy director of regional operations for the Joint Staff, told the group.
He cited examples he saw firsthand while serving as commander of Multinational Brigade Northwest in Iraq, including school supplies and other gifts donated for troops to distribute at schools they helped open and cheerful letters of encouragement that helped troops through dark days.
Similarly, wounded troops being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and elsewhere have experienced a tremendous outpouring of generosity and kindness from the American public, Ham said.
"It makes a huge difference what you do, and the soldiers really do appreciate it," he said.
Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno echoed Ham's sentiment, telling the group the American people's support is critical to the servicemembers sacrificing for their country. "These troops are dedicated," Odierno said. "They truly believe they are fighting for the American people (and) their way of life. And they recognize that they are making sacrifices, but they believe it is appreciated, so that is why it's important."
Rumsfeld encouraged the JCOC alumni to continue their support and encourage their friends and associates to participate, too. "Anything you folks can do to encourage your organizations and your friends and neighbors to recognize the important work that is being done by these volunteers -- and every one is a volunteer -- is deeply appreciated," he said.
DoD established the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in 1948 to introduce civilian "movers and shakers" with little or no military exposure to the workings of the armed forces so they can share their experiences with their community and business associates. Alumni conferences offer an opportunity for past participants to get updated on military issues and operations.