Sec Army Visits Fort Bragg
Acting Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, speaks with Spc. Marco A. Illanes-Castro after pinning him with the Purple Heart Medal at Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg yesterday. Spec. Illanes-Castro\'s mother (center) flew in from her home in Bolivia to visit her son.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, May 23, 2007) - Acting Secretary of the Army Pete Geren visited the Womack Army Medical Center here yesterday 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," said Sec. Geren.

During his visit, the secretary spoke with Soldiers who were wounded during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and was concerned with how well the staff at Womack was taking care of the Soldiers and whether they were meeting all their needs.

"The doctors and nurses are doing an outstanding job of taking care of me here," said Spc. Marco A. Illanes-Castro, a gunner with the 600th Quartermaster Company, 507th Corps Support Group.

Sec. Geren presented the Purple Heart to Spc. Illanes-Castro during his visit. Spc. Illanes-Castro was awarded 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 Spc. 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 in the morale and recovery of the Soldiers.

Spc. Illanes-Castro, originally from Bolivia, was surprised when he found out his mother and sister were coming to visit him in the hospital.

"I haven't seen my mom and sister in nine years," he said. "It's a real blessing to have them come out, and I'm very thankful the Army brought them here."

Sec. 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 of 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," Sec. Geren said. "Many 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."

The secretary also participated in a town hall meeting with Family members and Soldiers and conducted a windshield tour of the installation, where he visited the Ardennes Neighborhood Model Home and Community Center.

Sec. Geren is slated to attend the 82nd Airborne Division Memorial Ceremony today to honor the memory of the more than 5,000 82nd Airborne Division Soldiers who gave their lives in defense of the nation.

(Spc. Aaron L. Rosencrans serves with the 27th Public Affairs Detachment.)

Page last updated Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:35