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Tackling Our Toughest Challenges Together

By Del Eulberg, Major General (Ret.), USAF

Our nation’s history is filled with events that have shaped our national identity. We are known for our independence, innovative spirit, generosity, and diversity. America was built on people of all nationalities traveling to its shores to build a better life for their families. These traits define how we approach challenges.

Our very existence relied upon those traits when we came together to fight the British to gain our independence. George Washington led the Continental Army, which was made up of volunteers from all walks of life that
were ill equipped and up against one of the world’s strongest Army and Navy. General Washington’s daring decision to cross the freezing Delaware River on Christmas Eve and march his men in the snow and mud for 10 miles before engaging and defeating the British in Trenton, New Jersey, and return the following evening was – and is – a remarkable feat. That singular event changed the course of history. We came together to do the impossible, and it defined us as a nation.

This proud moment in our history demonstrates how overcoming seemingly impossible challenges always begins with defying the status quo, looking at a problem from a different angle, and being willing to take the risk. If we are to be successful, we must continue our collective efforts to accomplish our missions more effectively and efficiently. We also must take time to celebrate our successes and share best practices.

One example of success for housing professionals that quickly comes to mind is the passage of legislation that authorized housing privatization in 1996. Housing privatization is an example of leveraging the private sector to provide our military families with the homes they deserve and of government and private sector working together to achieve success. Over the past 20 years, this “new and innovative” approach to providing housing for our military families has clearly been a success that changed the quality of life for our Service members and their families. In my 30-plus years of service, the only other game changer with similar impact was the Department of Defense’s effort in the early 1990s to lead the nation in providing accredited childcare at every military installation.

We learned many lessons and the journey was not an easy one – especially housing privatization – but we were successful. I know we can continue to improve and innovate, but we also must not take these successes for granted. As we celebrate our successes, we must look for new opportunities to leverage the private sector in all areas of support on our military installations. This type of innovation has proven itself and is an example of a win-win situation that benefits both the military and the private sector.

Like those who came before us, we should never forget our strength as a nation relies on our ability to work side by side with our neighbors to get the job done. Public-private and public-public partnerships are two examples of how we can take on the status quo, improve quality of life for our military families, and reduce the cost of doing business. We must be united and innovative in order to face our nation’s financial challenges – currently, our national debt stands at more than $19 trillion. Regardless of politics, I am confident that we will find a way to come together and tackle our current financial crisis. After all, we are Americans, and we have a long history of taking on tough challenges together.

Del Eulberg is Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. General Eulberg retired from the Air Force in 2009 as The Civil Engineer, HQ USAF, where he was responsible for installation support for 166 installations worldwide.


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