A MESSAGE TO ALL VA EMPLOYEES FROM SECRETARY PRINCIPI

December 8, 2004

For me, time committed to the service of others, working shoulder-to-shoulder with capable and committed coworkers, is the most important attribute of a life well lived. For the past 46 months I have been privileged to share with you our stewardship of VA's mission of service to veterans. I am humbled to have worked side-by-side with you, the men and women who bring VA to life, as you demonstrated every day an all encompassing commitment to our mission and documented your skills in the changed lives of the veterans we serve. Our mission is profoundly satisfying, and you earned your place in the first rank of competence and compassion.

You rose to, and surmounted, the repeated challenges of our critical mission; overcoming changing circumstances and unexpected difficulties. I stand in awe of the long hours, diligent attention to the highest standards, and commitment to constant improvement that defined our Department over the past four years. Your record, in both our operating Administrations and our staff offices, is written in the text of increased access to ever higher quality healthcare, improved delivery of benefits and services, and the national shrines defining our cemetery system. Your work illuminates the finest in public service and I know that whatever praise I hear of our Department was earned through your effort.

I depart VA to take on new responsibilities and challenges moved by the service of the veterans we have been privileged to serve; and inspired by you, the men and women who serve them. Thanks to you, the past 46 months define a chapter in my career and life, as well as for our Department, that must be marked down as "well-lived". I thank you for what you achieved and I am confident that you will continue to build on your record of success and service. Thanks to you, I will be proud to answer to the title of "former VA employee".

For the future, I wish you fair winds and following seas and I wish you well.

Thank you, /s/ Anthony J. Principi