WASHINGTON — Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen accepted the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress last night on behalf of all members of the U.S. armed forces.
“Tonight, there are thousands upon thousands of young men and women answering our nation’s call in Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan and around the world,” the chairman said. “Off the shores of Libya, where they are flying and fighting to protect innocent people from their own government, they are doing a magnificent job.”
When the center selected Mullen for the award, the chairman agreed to accept it -– but only on behalf of the nation’s uniformed men and women.
Former Virginia Sen. John Warner, past chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, presented the award. President Barack Obama extended his congratulations to Mullen and U.S. service members in a letter.
“Throughout his extraordinary military career, Admiral Mullen has set an example for men and women across all branches of government,” the president’s letter read. “His outstanding leadership of our armed forces will be studied for generations to come, and as he accepts this award on behalf of our service members, I hope he takes pride in his enormous contributions to strengthening our nation.”
Mullen is a longstanding advocate of supporting U.S. troops and families during and after their service for the “needs they deserve,” ranging from medical care to education and jobs.
“You, your families, and all of the veterans you represent have my unyielding support and my deepest gratitude for all that you have done in service to our nation,” Mullen told veterans in the audience from the Disabled American Veterans and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Their actions and dedication to duty, Mullen told the veterans, “stand as stark testament to President Eisenhower’s words that ‘We cannot build peace on desire alone.’ I will take that one step further and say that while desire alone won’t build a better future for our nation or our world, you have.”
The center chose Mullen for the Eisenhower Award because “he is a forward-thinking, servant leader and grand strategist who, by looking through a long-term lens, has provided unparalleled leadership in navigating our men and women of the armed forces successfully during America’s longest war,” said Jonathan P. Murphy, the center’s communications director.
The chairman’s vision for the future includes jobs for veterans. Mullen said veterans are ready and willing to continue serving their communities, and when communities help veterans transition to civilian life, he foresees a “win-win” relationship.
“[That partnership] makes a positive and lasting impact on our nation and the young men and women who have served, for decades to come,” the admiral said.
Mullen challenged the Eisenhower Center’s fellows to find new, creative ways to “reach out to the great resources resident in our veterans.” Then, he challenged veterans to grab hold of the opportunities that are offered, “and bring your shipmates, battle buddies and wingmen along with you.”
Mullen also encouraged older veterans to mentor the younger ones. “Mentorship knows no rank or age limit,” he said.
Quoting Eisenhower, Mullen told the audience, “Our heart summons our strength, our wisdom must direct it.”
With that thought, the admiral said, he hopes the leaders of today and the future see the wisdom in keeping faith with those “who have bravely served the nation, as many more do so around the world tonight.”
“So when that time comes,” Mullen added, “our nation will have the heart to summon the strength needed to serve our nation and world.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)