WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 28, 2011) -- After more than a century of providing comprehensive health care to active and retired military personnel, along with their families, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center cased its colors -- officially closing its doors, here July 27.
The largest of the Department of Defense's medical centers, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, or WRAMC, had been at the forefront of medical instruction, clinical research and patient treatment. It has grown to care for some 775,000 outpatients each year.
"I spent some of my proudest, most challenging and humbling moments both personally and professionally in the arms of Walter Reed Army Medical Center," said Army Surgeon General and senior physician Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, who reminisced about his early career as a young clinician aboard Walter Reed campus. "I stand before you with a heart burdened with sorrow, yet swelling with pride as we witness the colors of this command for the final time."
As part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure announcement and a movement to make medical facilities joint-service, DoD proposed WRAMC be combined with the National Naval Medical Center on their grounds at Bethesda, Md. When the missions are combined, the new military medical complex will form the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"I am confident that the values and commitment are shared by all who wear the cloth of the nation, our sister services in the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Public Health Service and our many members in the civilian corps," Schoomaker said. "I have full faith and trust that the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda will embody the same transcendent care of loving care and healing and will proudly build upon the Walter Reed legacy."
Patients currently at WRAMC in Washington, D.C., will be transferred to the Bethesda facility by the end of August.
The Walter Reed General Hospital first opened its doors in Washington, D.C., May 1, 1909. The facility was named after Maj. Walter Reed, the Army doctor who led the team credited with the discovery that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquito.
In 1951, the Walter Reed General Hospital hospital was combined with the Army Medical Center that existed on the same campus. Together they formed the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
At the casing ceremony for WRAMC, held under a white tent on the main parade field, more than 1,000 former staffers and students along with patients and wounded gathered to pay tribute to the Army landmark.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh praised WRAMC as a grand campus that symbolized the Army's unyielding commitment to the care and treatment of wounded warriors and that it was a place of hope throughout its 102-year history.
"The leaders and workers of Walter Reed Army Medical Center have always looked for new ways to aid in the recovery of our wounded in ground-breaking prosthetics to irreplaceable emotional support, and that, is truly what Walter Reed has always been about spirit, hope and compassion," McHugh said.
When the Army vacates WRAMC, the 113 acres there will be split between the Department of State and the District of Columbia reuse commission.