The year 2020 has been filled with many obstacles and challenges felt throughout our ranks and in our communities.  We’ve felt the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, experienced financial strains and difficulties and watched national and world events unfold before our very eyes in real-time.  Together, all these occurrences have tested our resilience and how we all cope with adversity.

In the Army, people are our most valuable resource.  It’s the hard work and determination of our Soldiers and leaders that makes our successes possible.  It’s the strength of our families and friends that give us the motivation to conquer any obstacle.  Also equally as important, is the support we get from our communities.

Our community members are an important part of the resiliency and readiness of the force.  After all, our Soldiers live in these communities.  Our families work in these communities and our children are educated in these communities as well.  Our ability to give back to these communities allows us to strengthen the relationships between our Soldiers and the American people who support us every day.

Although we can never fully show our gratitude for the support we get from these communities, we will consistently connect our Soldiers, units and installations to their communities.  Because we cannot do what we do day-in and day-out without their support.

As we approach the 29th National Make a Difference Day observance, I am reminded of the importance of doing positive things that affect change and reflect on the Army Value Integrity – doing the right thing even when no one else is watching.  It’s easy to do things when the spotlight is on you, when eyes are on you and you feel obligated.  

Your true character shows when there are no cameras present, no likes to be had on social media and no one to pat you on the back and say, “good job.”  If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that even the smallest act of kindness, generosity or gratitude goes a long way to helping someone mentally, physically or spiritually.

It doesn’t take big, grandiose gestures to promote positive change.  Even simple acts like holding the door open, saying please or thank you or doing something small that helps a person can make a huge difference.  We all get so wrapped up in our own lives that we sometimes forget one of our most power gifts is kindness.

Nelson Mandela once said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.  It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

We’ve all seen some of the worst, but also the best of people this year.  We must not lose sight of the fact that even the smallest gesture of kindness or generosity can have a positive effect on someone.  We can’t afford to take these things for granted, because today, we need each other now more than ever.  Be kind and understanding, create positive change and look out for one another.