Time brings much change for all institutions. Sometimes those changes, spurred by events or societal shifts, or both, are historic and transformative. But amid change, President Barack Obama reminds us in this contributed commentary that some things, often some of the most crucial to ensuring transformation is progressive rather than debilitating, hold constant.
I couldn't be prouder of the work America's civil servants are doing every day. With more than 2 million civilian workers and more than 1 million active-duty service members, the men and women who serve this country in government and our military continue to raise the bar for America at home and overseas.
They are our scientists and social workers. They guard our borders, respond to disasters and protect our civil rights. They defend our country abroad and deliver the benefits our troops have earned when they come home. They help businesses expand and enter new markets. They push the very boundaries of science and space, and guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glory of our natural wonders here on Earth. And by ensuring that Americans can count on quality, affordable health insurance; by protecting consumers in new ways and helping our nation bounce back from the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, they're creating lasting change in the very way that government operates.
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What's even more telling, this work is often done with little acknowledgement or fanfare — and as we've experienced in recent years, it too often happens in a world of sequestration and mindless budget cuts. Yet despite these challenges, our public servants have stayed focused on serving this country and opening new opportunities to all Americans.
An aging workforce can pose a challenge. Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert explains how it also provides a great opportunity.
We'll need this grit and determination as we confront the challenges that lie ahead — challenges to our economy, our security, even the planet we all call home. But I have seen the commitment and dedication of those who serve this country. I know that our greatest resource is the strength and resilience of the American people. And that's why I know that no challenge is too great for America. And it's why I'm more optimistic than ever that our brightest days are in front of us.
President Barack Obama