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Remarks by Deputy Secretary Carter at Combined Federal Campaign kick-off event in the Pentagon Center Courtyard

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter
September 05, 2013

           DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASHTON B. CARTER: Well, thank you, Mike.

           Mike's been a friend and a colleague for many years, and he and I have been doing this for five, the last five.
Brandon, likewise, the whole team, great team we have here.

           This also is a little bit wider than it usually is because we do it this year with all of the services and have a combined kick-off. And I see service reps as well. I'm very grateful to you all for being here.

           Brandon -- Brandon is the chairperson, the local federal coordinating committee. And since this is the federal coordinating committee, this is the biggest show in the country. Brandon does it with big heart and a lot of talent, and I'm grateful, brother, that you've done this once again.

           Lou Nistler is not up on stage, but Lou's right there behind Pete. And thank you. He's the executive director for the CFC for the national capital region. Thank you.

           And then Anthony De Cristofaro -- he's got too long a name, but apart from that he is a great guy and a great colleague here. He's the director of our voluntary campaign management office.

           And I thank all of your for your leadership. And I thank all of you who are sitting out here in the sunshine. It's not that bad. It is a beautiful day, could be a lot worse. But I appreciate that you're here, especially the campaign chairs, the vice chairs, the loaned executives, all the key representatives that make this thing work. You're the principal reason why we, as a department, are always at the front of the pack among the federal agencies in giving. And you're the faces also to the campaign to all of our colleagues around the department, reminding them of this opportunity to express the caring that they have.

           Main -- one of the main reasons that people donate is that this occasion is brought to their attention. Otherwise, it might slip their mind. So we're counting on you to remind them, to educate them about this opportunity to express themselves.

           And this is a funny year. I was thinking about, "Ash, how can you ask our people once again to make a contribution this year after all you've been through, after all we're put through personally and institutionally at this particular time?" It's a good, good question. We've had furloughs, which are a terrible thing, terrible thanks for the country to give to people who are giving so much already to the country by what they do all day.

           But I dare to ask, and I'm confident you'll come through because of what the DOD family is. You guys get up -- wake up every morning and come to work and give to our country and the wider world in the most important way you can possibly do, which is to provide security. Because without security, nothing else matters. That's the basis of things. I always say security is like oxygen. If you have it, you don't pay any attention. But if you don't have it, it's all you can think about.

           And fortunately, we're blessed in this country that most of us don't have to think about it most of the time. But elsewhere in the world, that's what people think about all of the time. And for those who don't have to think about it here at home and around the world, the -- the United States Department of Defense is one of the principal reasons why that's true.

           And you get up and do that every day. And so that's another reason why to ask you for more -- well, we do ask you for more, and I'm confident we'll get more because of who you are. You're people whose life is filled by the opportunity to serve the rest of humanity. And this is just an extension of what you do every day.

           And so, you know, I don't know if you're like me, but my spirits are raised and my confidence is -- is embellished every time I meet with our people, because their capacity is so great. And we're lucky, all of us, because we get to wake up every morning and -- and be part of something that's bigger than ourselves, and -- and even bigger than our great country. And not everybody gets to do that, and we do. And we love it, but it's hard and sometimes we don't get the credit or -- or respect, or certainly remuneration that we deserve.

           But because you are who you are, so generous by nature, we dare to ask you again on behalf of the CFC, and remind you that our department, not surprising, counts for about a quarter of all the money raised by the combined federal campaign. So this is a big chunk of CFC around the country.

           Last year, the Department of Defense in the NCR raised over $15.2 million, an average gift above $515. That's a lot of money -- average gift above $515.

           And this year, reflecting the financial challenges that you have all had to face and the uncertainty of the months ahead, we've reduced our total campaign goal somewhat to $12.5 million. But we are hoping to exceed that, but we thought we need to be realistic about it.

           So let's -- even though we have a smaller pool of donors and despite what people have been through, I hope we can reach that goal.

            And as you think about your own contribution and asking others for their contributions toward that goal, remember -- and remind them -- that there are 5,000 charities that are part of the CFC, including ones that are especially dear to us in the Department of Defense, like the Fisher House Foundation, the USO. But there are others that serve other parts of our society and our communities, such as So Others May Eat, the Whitman-Walker Clinic, as those serving all kinds of other national and international causes.

           So there's something in there for everybody's particular passion, yours and the people you're going to be asking for. So some charity on the list that you can support.

           It's an American tradition to give. No other country gives like Americans give. No other country is as charitably disposed, as philanthropically disposed, as is America. It's an area where we stand out.

           And so you have an opportunity, both here personally as well as you do every day professionally to reflect your values of service and sacrifice and duty to others.

           So that's what I'm asking you for and asking you to ask folks for this year. I know we'll all come through. We'll have a great campaign in 2013.

           So let's get at it. And we'll meet again a few months down the road, and -- and -- and count it up and be proud of ourselves.

           Thanks.

           (APPLAUSE)