03 February 2012

Panetta Pays Tribute to Military Nurses in Germany

U.S Army Col. Jeffrey Ashley, left, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Analise Medina cut a birthday cake honoring the 111th birthday of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, Feb. 3, 2012. Panetta traveled to Ramstein Air Base and Landstuhl to visit patients, and thank service members directly involved with the transportation and care of wounded warriors. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley.

Panetta Pays Tribute to Military Nurses in Germany

By Karen Parrish, American Forces Press Service

LANDSTUHL, Germany, Feb. 3, 2012 – “I’m here to pay tribute to you,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told nurses and other medical professionals here today.

Some 150 service members of all branches gathered at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to welcome the secretary as he paused between a NATO defense ministerial and the Munich security conference to spend time with troops and visit wounded warriors.

Panetta remarked that on the 111th birthday of the Army nurse corps, he sent special wishes to all military nurses.

“I have a special feeling for all the nurses in the crowd, because my wife is a nurse,” he said.
Sylvia Panetta went to nursing school after they met, and the two married after she graduated, the secretary said.

“She’s been taking care of me ever since,” he added.

Military nurses’ skills are crucially important to all patients, but especially those injured in battle, Panetta said.

“Yours are the first eyes they look into,” he said, adding that when those eyes express caring, the emotion becomes part of the healing process.

Nurses and other medical professionals are healers, Panetta said, serving alongside fighters and all the other skilled men and women in uniform.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of those that serve,” he said. “In my book, you are all heroes.”

He then cut the Army nurse corps birthday cake, assisted by the most-senior and most-junior nursing officers assigned to LRMC.

Following his visit to the medical center and an earlier stop at Ramstein Air Base, where he spoke with some 60 airmen who provide patient ground transport, medevac and other services for patients and staff assigned to the medical center, the secretary continued to Munich.

Tomorrow, Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will jointly address the 48th Munich Security Conference.

This morning, the secretary concluded a two-day series of meetings in Brussels with fellow NATO defense ministers and representatives of non-NATO International Security Assistance Force troop-contributing nations.

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