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NEWS | Nov. 6, 2023

Retiring SEAC calls on Americans to support service members

By Jim Garamone DOD News

While U.S. service members come from society, no one should "mistake the warrior few with the society they serve," said outgoing Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón "CZ" Colón-López Nov. 3. 

Colón-López closed out a 33-year Air Force career, transferring his responsibilities to SEAC Troy E. Black during a ceremony at Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia. 

Colón-López, a pararescuer, was the first special operator chosen to serve as enlisted advisor to the chairman and other senior defense officials. He said there is only one way he can detach himself from the way of the warrior, "and that is by having confidence that our Department of War will continue to be the most trusted, most lethal and most revered military organization in the country." 

[Troops] know that, in the execution of their duties, they may pay the ultimate price. They know that service is not about self, it is always about the team."
Outgoing Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón "CZ" Colón-López
Service members will continue to earn that trust only by adhering to the principles of sacrifice, duty, honor and commitment. "For a young man or woman to enter a life of military service, a sacred oath must be taken," he said. "That oath will become the most important promise they will make in their lives. The price of acceptance into America's warrior class is payable on sacrifice." 

Service members answer to a higher calling. "Once they volunteer, they must conform to a military lifestyle — not the other way around," he said. "Service is about conformity, unity and discipline." 

"The values that are acceptable in society such as individualism, sensitivity and compromise are often antithetical to the traits that eliminate or deter our enemies," Colón-López continued.  

The Air Force veteran said U.S. service members aren't like most Americans. "Our troops are a different kind of American: They are a subset of society defined by that oath, by different laws and by their battlefield purpose," he said. "They are broken of the human habits of comfort, taught to embrace unity and cohesion, and conditioned to fight the enemy." 

He said U.S. troops embrace and respect their team. "They know that orders are not suggestions," he said. "They know that combat has no room for debate. They know that, in the execution of their duties, they may pay the ultimate price. They know that service is not about self, it is always about the team." 

The country must ensure U.S. service members keep that fighting edge, Colón-López said, and that requires national support. "[The troops] deserve the best, most realistic training to harden them for the hardship and horrors of combat," he said. "They deserve predictable funding to evolve, modernize and validate their combat capabilities. They deserve the best leaders to ensure their success in battle." 

What the troops don't deserve is "to be used as bargaining chips for localized political agendas," he said. "They do not deserve to be financially hindered by continuing resolutions. And they do not deserve to be slandered as an institution for the actions of a few." 

Colón-López said less than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military. They are the men and women willing to fight to defend their countrymen. He called on all Americans to support service members "at home with the same loyalty, patriotism and honor they give when they fight for you in foreign lands."