Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin released a Department of Defense-wide message on Wednesday, a day before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Austin also spoke via video call with deployed troops, including the 111th Engineer Brigade deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
Here is the full text of Austin’s message:
This week, as Americans gather with family and friends, they will give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy as a country. And I know they count all of you and your families among those blessings. They know how much you serve and sacrifice to keep alive our freedoms and to defend this nation we all love so much.
As I told troops stationed out in the Middle East this week, you are the reason the United States still enjoys its vast array of allies and partners. You are the reason we still field the most powerful military in human history. You and your families represent our shared sense of purpose, our dedication to democracy, and our uniquely American optimism for the future.
Wherever this holiday finds you, please know how thankful I am for your service and for the support and love you receive from your families. Please also remember to check in on your teammates and let them know you care. Not everyone enjoys the holidays quite the same, and for many of us there will be an empty chair at the table — a reminder of loss and longing.
Again, thank you for everything you do. I am immensely grateful. I wish you and your families my best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.