100 Years Of Warrior Care

May 2, 2009

May 1, 2009 marks 100 years in which Walter Reed Army Medical Center has provided medical care for literally thousands of US Servicemembers. Walter Reed opened it’s doors on May 1, 1909, as an 80 bed facility in a time of peace, before our country became involved in World War I. Shortly afterwards, the beds began to fill with casualties from injuries sustained during World War I.

“There was no ceremony, no dedication and no fanfare,” Walter Reed historian Sherman Fleek said. “Medical treatment and care commenced quietly.”1

As our country became involved in various conflicts, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, the number of beds at Walter Reed grew to 2,500. Always in the forefront of medical care, Walter Reed has adapted as the needs of wounded warriors has changed. Currently Walter Reed is a 247 bed major medical center and one that is in the forefront of medical advances. At Walter Reed, there are currently 60 out patient clinics, 16 operating suites and it’s staff is dedicated not only to caring for their patients, but teaching and research as well.

Oldest known photo of Walter Reed from 1909

Most recently, a state of the art, 31,000-square-foot rehabilitation center and gym has been added to better provide for the needs of the servicemembers that Walter Reed serves. Since it opened in September 2007, troops who have undergone amputations have used the center’s computer- and video-monitoring systems, infrared camera-assisted motion analysis and other sophisticated technology to help them adapt to new prosthetic limbs.2

Along with the wonderful things that Walter Reed has provided our Troops, as well as several US Presidents, in medical care, there have been some rough spots along the way. We’re all very familiar with the reports that were published in early 2007, in the Washington Post that shed light on poor conditions at the hospital’s facilities, describing America’s wounded warrior outpatients living in moldy rooms laden with belly-up cockroaches and stained carpets, and soldiers forced to face a cumbersome bureaucracy at the hospital.3

Aerial Photo of Walter Reed in the 1990s

Despite these setbacks, the staff at Walter Reed has remained dedicated to providing the best care possible to our wounded warriors. Because of these reports, many new programs and services have been initiated to ensure that our wounded warriors receive the best and most efficient medical care possible.

“So many great initiatives have developed out of that crisis,” Coots said via e-mail. “National and military leadership from around the world come to Walter Reed to see and earn about all of the great things that are being done in this world-class facility.”4

As many of us know, Walter Reed is scheduled to be moved to Bethesda Naval Medical Center in 2011 as part of the BRAC realignment and will then be transformed into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I’m sure even after the move, top quality medical care for our wounded warriors will be the standard. Visiting the Walter Reed website and reading about the rich history of this facility is quite amazing. I encourage you to do so.

  1. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=54162 []
  2. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=54162 []
  3. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=54162 []
  4. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=54162 []


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