FORT LEE, Va. - The Combined Arms Support Command hosted a June 13 visit by John Harvey Jr., Virginia Secretary for Veteran's Affairs and Homeland Security.

While touring the installation, he met with Army trainers, program directors and military students, which helped him gain a greater understanding of the command's mission and its role in the community. Harvey said he was particularly interested in the needs and concerns of transitioning Soldiers, the Army's credentialing and training programs, and the capabilities of Fort Lee's support functions and infrastructure.

CASCOM is responsible for training more than 180,000 students annually through 541 courses taught by the Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation schools, Soldier Support Institute and Army Logistics University. It is also a major subordinate element of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Shortly after his arrival at Fort Lee, Harvey met with senior leaders at CASCOM to discuss the installation's economic and social impact on the local area. Many community outreach and partnership programs were discussed. From a monetary standpoint, the five counties surrounding Fort Lee and Metropolitan Richmond report a $2.4 billion boost to their economy as a result of jobs and other types of support.

The post's engagement with civic leaders and organizations are important in telling the Army's story, CASCOM leaders noted. It connects local citizens with service members and recognizes the partnership and patriotism of the community.

Also included in the discussion was an overview of TRADOC's Soldier for Life program. Thus far, it has helped CASCOM develop more than 79 credentialing opportunities across 43 military occupational skills. Credentialing is part of a Soldier's continuing education and keeps them up to date on the latest industry standards. It is also a useful tool that provides self-paced development that enables career-ready job skills as a Soldier transitions out of the military.

After the meeting, Harvey was taken on a tour of the installation where he was able to observe training first-hand. His first stop was the Quartermaster School's Joint Culinary Center of Excellence. There, he learned about military food service training and the partnership JCCoE has with the American Culinary Federation.

Military personnel attending the culinary school are given the opportunity to earn accreditation as chefs while performing their daily routines.

Harvey's next stop was the Ordnance School's Allied Trades Department. He observed welding and machining skills training and learned that students are able to earn an American Welding Society Entry Level Welder credential at the completion of their school. Similar credentials are available for the machining portion of the course.

At his final stop, Harvey participated in a working lunch with Soldiers where he discussed ways for the Commonwealth to better support transitioning service members and keep their skill sets within the state. Suggestions included veteran grants for continuing education and talking to employers about the benefits of hiring a service member.

"I think job availability is the biggest factor as to where I will live when I retire," said Staff Sgt. Jaron L. Alderman, a petroleum specialist. "I'm working on my bachelor's degree, and I would like to get a job in the petroleum industry when I transition."

At the end of his visit, Harvey commented on how impressed he was with the quality of training service members receive and the important role Fort Lee plays in the veteran population that receives support from the installation.

"My head is filled with things to think about for improving our services to our veterans," he said. "I look forward to working with the command in the future to better provide our service members opportunities that will help them transition."