Acting Army Secretary Visits Womack Army Medical Center
By Spc. Aaron L. Rosencrans, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT BRAGG, N.C., May 22, 2007 Acting Secretary of the Army Pete Geren visited Womack Army Medical Center here today to meet wounded soldiers and take a firsthand look at the programs and treatment offered to soldiers and their families.
“Womack is doing an excellent job of taking care of the wounded soldiers and meeting the needs of the families,” Geren said.
During his visit, Geren spoke with soldiers who were wounded during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was concerned with how well the staff was taking care of the soldiers and whether they were meeting all of their needs.
“The doctors and nurses are doing an outstanding job of taking care of me here,” said Spc. Marco A. Illanes-Castro, gunner, 600th Quartermaster Company, 507th Corps Support Group.
Geren awarded the Purple Heart to Illanes-Castro during his visit. Illanes-Castro was given the medal for injuries he suffered when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle in southern Iraq.
“It was quite an honor to receive the Purple Heart from Secretary of the Army Geren,” said Illanes-Castro. “I’m grateful to still be alive to be able to receive it.”
One aspect of the treatment Geren was particularly interested in was the new program that brings soldiers’ family members to Fort Bragg to aid soldiers’ morale and recovery.
Illanes-Castro, originally from Bolivia, was surprised when he found out his mother and sister were coming out to visit him in the hospital.
“I haven’t seen my mom and sister in nine years,” he said. “It was a real blessing to have them come out, and I’m very thankful the Army brought them here.”
Geren later visited the physical therapy section of the medical center to observe the treatment soldiers receive after sustaining an injury.
“This is an important area for us as paratroopers,” said Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg. “We have many people of various walks of life working to help the soldiers recover quickly from their injuries. We have come a long way, in the Army, as far as physical therapy.”
“I am humbled by the dedication of the soldiers from Fort Bragg,” Geren said. “Many of the soldiers here have been deployed repeatedly, and they continue to work hard to bring the fight to the terrorists so we don’t have to fight them here at home.”
Geren also participated in a Town Hall meeting today with family members and soldiers and took a windshield tour of the installation, where he visited the Ardennes Neighborhood, Model Home and Community Center.
He is scheduled to attend the 82nd Airborne Division Memorial Ceremony tomorrow to honor the memory of the more than 5,000 82nd Airborne Division Soldiers who gave their lives in defense of the nation since the founding of the division in 1917.
(Army Spc. Aaron L. Rosencrans is assigned to 27th Public Affairs Detachment, Fort Bragg, N.C.)