By Lisa Ferdinando, DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, lauded the extraordinary contributions of today’s service members, as he accepted a prestigious award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Dunford spoke today in Kansas City, Missouri, at the VFW’s national convention after receiving the organization’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Award.
"I have the honor of representing the more than 2 million men and women who serve today,” Dunford told thousands of VFW and Auxiliary members, adding it is his privilege to accept the award on behalf of those who serve.
Today more than 300,000 Americans are deployed or forward stationed in 177 countries, he explained. Those missions include conducting operations to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, standing watch in Korea, and enhancing interoperability with allies in Poland.
Chairman Praises U.S. Military Members
The chairman said he is assured of the nation’s security because of what service members do every day, and due to the high quality of men and women the military is retaining and recruiting.
“I can stand here as your chairman and say with absolute confidence that today's armed forces can defend the United States and our way of life,” he said.
Dunford added, “I can say with absolute confidence that today's force can meet all of our alliance commitments around the world, and I can say with absolute confidence that the United States military has a competitive advantage over any potential adversary.”
He praised the members of today’s all-volunteer force and their family members for their commitment and steadfast service.
"Today they are still focused, they are still committed, and the families are still enduring extraordinary sacrifice,” he said. “Just like their predecessors, just like those of you in this room, when times are hard, today's warriors simply tighten their chain straps and drive on."
Honoring America’s Veterans
Dunford honored VFW and Auxiliary members for their service and commended the organization’s steadfast support to veterans. The chairman shared his family’s military history that includes seven uncles who served in World War II and the service of his father.
"In 1950 my dad fought in Korea with the 1st Marine Division. He remains a proud member of the VFW today,” Dunford said. “I grew up admiring what they did in uniform and what they did in their communities when they came home and they inspired me to serve."
The VFW’s commander in chief, Keith Harman, honored Dunford for his four decades of service to the nation. Each year since 1970, Harman said, the VFW has presented the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award, named after the 34th U.S. president, to an individual for his or her exceptional contributions to American security, unity and world peace.
“It recognizes extraordinary contributions and achievements to secure the nation from foreign threats, to advance the interests of the nation abroad, and to inspire the American public to support these efforts,” Harman said.