Hinesville is known for its veteran population and how it treats the soldiers and families of Fort Stewart — and that’s coming from one of the brass on post.
Col. Marc Austin, the Fort Stewart garrison commander, delivered his r ema r k s on the relationship b e twe e n the military and civilian community during the annual community Veterans Day observance, held at VFW Post 6602.
For Col. Austin, it’s his second assignment at Fort Stewart and one he said he anticipated.
“I wanted to come back here,” he said. “I’ve served in a lot of locations over the years and it is the one place where there really isn’t a barrier.”
Col. Austin also pointed out that though there are gates and boundary lines, the military community is integrated and immersed in life outside the bounds of the massive base. November is also Military Family Appreciation Month, he noted.
“On behalf of everybody on Fort Stewart, thank you for being such a great friend,” he said.
Col. Austin also remarked on the meaning of Veterans Day, especially in a city that has the greatest number of veterans per capita, he said.
“This vibrant city is not only a testament to the strength and resilience of our armed forces,” he said, “but it is also home to one of the most prominent military installations in the country. Chances are you are going to be running into somebody who served.”
Veterans Day, Col. Austin said, is a day dedicated to recognizing and honoring the nation’s veterans, “those who have served our great nation with unwavering honor and distinction.”
Col. Austin added the veterans’ sacrifices deserve the nation’s eternal gratitude and it is “our solemn duty to never forget.”
“Veterans Day serves as a reminder that the strength of the Army, and indeed our entire nation, lies in the commitment and dedication of our people,” he said.
For those who may become soldiers in the future, how veterans are treated today is an example of the Army’s dedication to those who served in its ranks, Col. Austin said. Roughly half of the Army’s civilian force, he added, is made up of former soldiers.
Other organizations also recognize what skills soldiers learned while in the Army and other assets they bring to a post-service life, Col. Austin said.
“The skills honed during their service open up new pathways to success. You don’t stop leading when you take off that uniform,” he said. “You truly can be all you can be.”
Austin also pointed out it is important to hear the stories of veterans to connect the public with the value of Army service.
“These stories are a testament to the honor, courage and commitment displayed by our veterans and they have served as a beacon of inspiration for those considering a path to service,” he said.
“Let us all remember the profound impact veterans have. I can’t beat that drum enough,” Col. Austin said. “Not just for what you do here but the dedication you have. What I ask is for you is to continue to share your stories because there is no better brand ambassador than an Army veteran.”