This Veterans Day I'd like to acknowledge the service of a soldier whom I've been proud to call a friend for over 40 years.

I first met Lt. General Joe Peterson (U.S. Army, Ret.) when we were students at Santa Clara University. He was an ROTC cadet. I wasn't completely a hippie, but the length of my hair might have convinced one otherwise. And yet, he was one of my best friends -- and in those turbulent times, when campus Vietnam War protestors and ROTC students were often at odds, I knew that Joe always had my back. He was a man who cared.

Back then, Joe didn't plan on making a career of the Army. He was going to fulfill his ROTC obligation, get out, and start his "real" life. But as he quickly rose through the officer corps in the Army, the man who cared found that he cared too much about his soldiers and their families to quit. He kept going. Kept commanding. Kept training. Kept caring.

Along the way, he commanded the Fourth Infantry Division, the First Armored Division, and the First Cavalry Division. He spent a year in Iraq. When he retired in 2012, 40 years after graduating from Santa Clara and being commissioned as a second lieutenant, Joe Peterson was the Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces Command (FORSCOM). 

So this Veterans Day I'm honored that men like Joe Peterson dedicate their lives to serving our country and protecting our freedoms. And I'm proud to call a man like Joe Peterson a friend.

(If you'd like to read more about Joe's fantastic career, here's a great article in Santa Clara magazine.)