WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 12, 2007) - In his first public address as acting secretary of the Army, Pete Geren today addressed personnel of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center at WRAMC.

He spoke about the many changes affecting today's Army, including "the sweeping transformation" that includes realignment and closure of bases and the "rebalancing of the force."

What leaders and staff members of the Army's medical community likely most wanted to hear came at the end of Geren's 20-minute speech, when he talked about recent events that have since plagued WRAMC, resulting in the firing of the hospital's commander and the dismissal of the secretary of the Army, among others.

Following his rundown of changes affecting the 1.3-million "Army-Strong" family, which includes active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, and civilian employees, Geren said, "Our Army will meet these challenges."

At the top of the list of priorities, he said, would be to provide the best possible care to military personnel who "have fought the battle," because they deserve nothing less.

"The American people expect us to fulfill our obligation to those who serve, and our Army leadership is acting decisively to correct [recent shortcomings in medical care]," he added.

He made a point, however, to commend the workers at WRAMC who carry on a 231-year tradition of service and "have provided some of the nation's greatest advances in medicine.

"We pledge that we will never leave a fallen comrade. That means on the battlefield and in the hospital," he said. "In a time when much of medicine has become business, you care about people."

Geren based that assessment on the well-documented cases of stellar care already provided by WRAMC professionals to some of the nation's more than 26,000 wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans.