Austin tells soldiers, NCOs: ‘We must always be ready’

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Army must continue to address challenges abroad and internally, according to the Army vice chief of staff, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III.

Speaking Oct. 22 during the Sergeant Major of the Army Awards Luncheon at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, Austin emphasized the importance of properly completing and supporting our remaining missions abroad.

"Today our top priority continues to be the fight ongoing in Afghanistan," Austin said.

Adding, the Army will "make sure [soldiers] will receive our full support" in the mission until our last soldier leaves the country.

But once the Afghanistan mission was over, Austin noted, the Army would still need to remain ready for future undertakings.

"The reality is we have not fought the war to end all wars," he said.

"We must always be ready … we must always be able to respond to when that next call comes," he added.

Austin also urged those soldiers present to help address the problems of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) facing the Army.

"What we are asked to do in this profession … is not easy," Austin said. "Coping with that can be understandably difficult."

The Army is not alone in these problems.

Austin pointed out a number of former NFL players who were present at the luncheon as a part of the NFL and the Army’s new partnership to research and address issues like TBI that affect both athletes and soldiers. (See related story, Page XXXXX.)

Among those former NFL players present were Troy Vincent, James Thrash, Eddie Mason, Matt Stover, Mike Rucker, Shaun Alexander and Keith Bulluck.

He also emphasized that asking for help "is a sign of strength" and encouraged soldiers to "make seeking help a routine part of our life."

"My challenge to all of you today … is to lead this effort," Austin said, who went on to suggest that if NCOs were to take these issues seriously and make it a priority, others will do the same.

Austin stressed the "absolute necessity of this endeavor," adding that "we can do this … we can make a difference … let’s forge ahead and write the next chapter."