Under Secretary of the Army visits JBSA-Fort Sam Houston

By Ms Lori A Newman (IMCOM)March 12, 2012

Under Secretary Westphal presents Purple Hearts
Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph W. Westphal, awards the Purple Heart to four Soldiers at the Warrior and Family Support Center, which is located near San Antonio Military Medical Center and the Center for the Intrepid rehabilitation facility.... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The 30th Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph W. Westphal, visited Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston March 7 and 8 and talked to Soldiers about budget and warrior transition issues and award four Purple Hearts.

"This is one of several visits I've made to this great installation. It has such a variety of commands that touch every aspect of our Army," Westphal said.

The undersecretary spent the afternoon of March 7 visiting the Army Installation Management Command Academy.

Westphal praised Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, IMCOM commander, and his staff for their dedication in supporting Soldiers and their families worldwide.

"Our Army leadership has been well coordinated, very organized in terms of addressing the budget issues that have been laid before us by the Congress," Westphal said.

"We have been able to address what are very significant budget cuts in what we call the 'fit up' for the next decade -- two five-year plans," the undersecretary added.

"Now, a lot depends on what Congress is going to do the rest of this year, both in terms of the current fiscal year budget and what they are going to do in respect to the budget act they passed last December.

"We are trying focus on the things that are important to families and children, to make sure that we can protect the resources for those kinds of activities," he said.

"IMCOM is doing a very good job of burrowing inside of their support programs to ensure there are not redundancies."

There are may be other things that cannot be funded in the long-term, the under secretary said, but "we have a requirement to take care of our Soldiers and their families for the sacrifices that they have made over the last 10 years and they continue to make.

We have a very firm commitment to continue to care for our wounded warriors, Westphal pledged.

"It's a constant learning curve and with all of the improvements in science and technology," the undersecretary said. "It's a constant battle to keep up the issues that affect them, and to be sensitive to those issues; to address them in a timely manner.

"Warrior transition is huge issue for us in the Army," he said. "It's complicated, but we are addressing it; not backing away from it.

"We are working with the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration in ways we have never worked with them before," Westphal said.

"The health of the force in general is a big issue -- from the affects of that war through PTSD, suicides, sexual assault or assault in general, drug use -- you name it. All these things are a concern to us as Americans."

These issues are not Army-unique they affect all the services he explained. "The more we can look at those issues in a joint fashion the better we learn and the more we improve."

Following his visit to IMCOM, the undersecretary had dinner with senior leaders from the other commands on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

On March 8, Westphal visited wounded Soldiers bedside at San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Following his visit to SAMMC, Westphal headed to the Warrior and Family Support Center to present Purple Hearts to four Soldiers, Sgt. Brandon L. Tucker, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry Division; Spc. Benjamin P. Bozworth, Company A, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard; Spc. Nicholas G. Luttrell, Company A, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard; and Pfc. Cody A. Nusbaum, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

"Whatever your wounds are, whatever work you have to do to mend, we know that it took courage for you to make that decision to raise your right hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," he told the Purple Heart recipients. "That courage is what sustains you today."

Westphal said the most rewarding part of his visit was spending time with Soldiers and their families.

"I think about the strength of character that they have as they go through the difficult process of mending, it's amazing to me," the undersecretary said. "It renews my faith in people and their strength and character."