To Our National Guard Family,
As 2013 draws to a close, I want to thank all National Guard members across the globe for the outstanding job you've done this year. You are the critical element to maintaining our status as a world-class operational force and the first line of defense in the Homeland. I owe just as much thanks to your families because they are the foundation upon which our success is built. Without their support, our operational tempo would quickly become unsustainable.
In the vein of maintaining our force, it's important to remain vigilant against situations that can increase risk, whether you're in a combat zone or in your hometown. Particularly concerning to me is the role that excessive alcohol consumption can play in poor decision-making over the holidays. Your Battle Buddy or your Wingman is an important ally in combating these risks. Incidents, such as sexual harassment and drinking-and-driving serve to degrade our force and call our individual and collective credibility into question. Do your best to help your fellow Guard members avoid putting themselves in positions of unnecessary risk.
Unfortunately, the Army National Guard has trended in the wrong direction with regard to suicides this year, so I ask you to remain especially vigilant in supporting your fellow Soldiers and Airmen who might be experiencing hardships. As a National Guard, we pride ourselves on our ability to protect and defend this great nation from those who would do us harm and to assist our communities during times of natural disaster. During this holiday season, it is likewise important for all of us to watch out for and protect each other.
While the holidays can be a time of great joy for many families, we are mindful of the fact that there are many of us who are deployed overseas. We owe a great debt of gratitude to these selfless men and women who have chosen to defend our interests regardless of the season. Our thoughts are with you.
Thank you for your continued vigilance over this holiday season. Pat and I wish you and your family a happy holiday season and a safe and festive new year!
General Frank Grass
Chief, National Guard Bureau