Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao writes personal letters to the mothers of Sgt. Lilina Benning and Staff Sgt. Ireshekia Hilliard at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center in Brook Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, March 26.

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Army News Service, April 4, 2008) - The Honorable Elaine Chao, U.S. secretary of labor, visited the U.S. Army Garrison Soldier and Family Assistance Center in Brooke Army Medical Center here March 26.

Chao toured the SFAC and met several warriors in transition, Families and SFAC personnel.

"The SFAC is very important because when Soldiers come back from Iraq they need the financial support, counseling and employment assistance in how to prepare for the next stage in their life," said Chao.

While visiting, Chao met with the West family, who were at the SFAC education office.

Sgt. James West, a warrior in transition, said. "My wife and I are here today to get help. Our son is three months old and we need day care. I'm also filling out paperwork for tuition assistance."

Chao held a press conference and spoke about the Veterans Employment and Training Service's REALifelines program, which is offered to Soldiers at the SFAC.

"The U.S. Department of Labor is involved in a program called VETS' REALifelines and it is a one-on-one mentoring and counseling program that helps transition wounded warriors to the next phase in their life," said Chao.

The program helps warriors know what is going on in the community; how to prepare a resume if they choose to separate from the military; provides training on how to interview; and helps with medical, financial, transportation, relocation and employment needs.

In closing, Chao said she was very inspired by the SFAC and thanked Brig. Gen. James Gilman, commander of the Great Plains Regional Medical Command and Brooke Army Medical Center, for his strong leadership in ensuring that Soldiers get the right resources, assistance and the support that their Families need.

Chao is the nation's 24th secretary of labor and the first Asian-American woman appointed to a president's cabinet in U.S. history. Since January 2001, she has been dedicated to carrying out the department's mission of promoting and protecting the health, safety, retirement security and competitiveness of the nation's workforce.

(Olivia Mendoza works for the Fort Sam Houston Public Information Office.)

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