By Heather Graham-Ashley, III Corps and Fort Hood Public AffairsJune 23, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas (June 23, 2014) -- A new, state-of-the-art facility to treat Soldiers experiencing the symptoms of traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress and related complications is inching closer to the opening here.
Fort Hood officials joined representatives from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to break ground on the post's National Intrepid Center of Excellence Satellite facility, Intrepid Spirit, during a ceremony, Thursday, attended by former Army officials and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Intrepid Spirit facilities extend the care provided at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, based at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland. Each facility is a 25,000-square-foot, $11 million building that offers an intake/clinic area, physical therapy, a sleep lab, a Central Park area for relaxation and meditation and a family room where families can relax together during breaks from treatment.
"All satellites are mirrors of each other," Intrepid Fund President David Winters said. "We want to bring as much as possible (from the NICoE)."
III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said the roughly 40,000 Soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, a very high percentage of whom have seen combat, will benefit immensely from the treatment available at the Intrepid Spirit.
"The unseen, the psychological and psychiatric injuries that we see in our Soldiers today, those last a lifetime," Milley said, noting that 10-15 percent, between 5,000 and 8,000 Fort Hood Soldiers, are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, known as TBI, and post-traumatic stress, referred to as PTS. "This facility is being put here specifically to treat those issues for those Soldiers."
Col. Ivan Speights, deputy commander for administration and chief of staff for Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, said the Intrepid Center is an important part of the program, services and tools available to provide quality care to service members and wounded warriors.
"Today will reinforce our commitment as an Army and as a nation to continually expand how to take care of our Soldiers," Speights said.
Perry also praised the center as one that will improve and save lives of Soldiers experiencing the unseen conditions of war and that Soldiers need to know that the American public will be there for them.
"This is a vital mission that we have undertaken," Perry said.
The center, which should open in about a year and sit adjacent to the new medical center at the corner of 58th Street and Santa Fe Avenue, will provide the most advanced care available for service members with TBI, PTS and related complications, as well as provide data to NICoE for research to improve the diagnoses, detection and treatment of those conditions.
Retired Staff Sgt. Spencer Milo, who was treated at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, or NICoE, for TBI, PTS and other injuries, said his time at the Intrepid Center was the first time he felt like a patient, and not just a number. He arrived in Bethesda with two diagnoses, and left with 27 documented findings.
More importantly, Milo said, he found hope through the NICoE program.
"I left with a lot of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel," Milo said. "I had answers for the first time in my battle."
The retired staff sergeant said the Intrepid Spirit centers enable others to get that same level of healing and hope he and his family found at the NICoE.
"These centers give everybody an opportunity to get the help they need," he said.
Fort Hood's Intrepid Spirit will be the fifth of nine planned satellite facilities located on military installations across the country.
This first two satellite centers opened last fall at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Fort Belvoir, Virginia. A third facility at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is nearing completion. Intrepid Spirit at Fort Bragg, N.C., broke ground for construction earlier this year.
Each center is paid for in full through the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and donations from the American public and then gifted to the installation, Arnold Fisher, honorary chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund said. For more information about the fund, or to donate, go to www.fallenheroesfund.org/.
"One hundred percent goes toward the building. We don't take a penny," Fisher said. "This is a joint venture between the government and the American people. Not one penny of government money goes into these facilities."
Once the Intrepid Center is completed, the building will be gifted to Fort Hood and become part of its command, and will have the capabilities to treat about 1,000 service members each year, Winters said.
Services and treatment modules offered at Intrepid Spirit will augment and work cooperatively with those available at Fort Hood, he added.
Establishing these centers on installations helps expand the numbers of service members who can access this level of care, while making it easier for their families to participate in the program, a key component of the NICoE model.
"The families are included in the treatment," Winters said. "That's crucial because the families suffer from theses injuries, too."