Not long ago, the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, asked the Retired Soldier Council and the retired community to define what it means to be a retired Soldier and how we can contribute to the Army mission. How do we want to be perceived?
We recognize that each retired Soldier is different.
Most retired Soldiers continue to work in a second career, so we recognize that many cannot be fulltime advocates for the Army. But nearly every retired Soldier can tell their Army story and help connect the Army with the Americans it defends.
Nearly every retired Soldier can educate their neighbor or coworker about the stereotypes and the myths of military service that they see in the media. Nearly every retired Soldier can display the Soldier for Life pin or window sticker to define themselves to other Americans.
The new motto of the Army Retirement Services for retired Soldiers reminds us of what we are, “Your mission has changed, but your duty has not.”
It’s true. We’re not deploying and fighting our nation’s wars any more. We’re not staring across international borders at those who might wish to change our country’s way of life. But we’re still a collective force for the Army and the nation.
There are over 967,000 retired Soldiers and over 246,000 surviving spouses. We are the Army’s largest demographic. There are just over one million Soldiers currently serving in the Active Army, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserves – combined.
It is not likely we’ll be recalled to active duty. But our impact should be felt on the home front.
In towns across America we, the six-tenths of one percent of Americans who have retired from our nation’s military forces, live and interact with the 99 percent of Americans who don’t serve in the military. This proximity to our fellow Americans and our sense of duty to our country is our strategic advantage – if we use it.
So how do we want to be defined? As a force that continues to promote the strength of the nation? Or as a collection of individuals who quietly collect retired pay and use military treatment facilities or TRICARE benefits and the commissary and PX? How do we want the Army to use our skills and experience?
Your journey isn’t beginning, but neither has it ended. You are still needed by this country. You can vote, advocate for the military with your Congressman, volunteer on a military base or with a veterans service organization, join an installation retiree council, or contribute financially to Army Emergency Relief or other charities that support our less fortunate.
As a retired Soldier, you are still a leader, still setting the example for others. Indeed, “Your mission has changed, but your duty has not.” You are a Soldier for Life.
(Courtesy Army Echoes newsletter)