The National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs Office and the U.S. Army official Web site contributed to this report.
After 102 years in service to our nation, Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), as we know it, will be closing its doors.
In the next few months patients and staff will move into the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda (WRNMMCB) and the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (FBCH) in Virginia.
The official "casing of the colors" ceremony for WRAMC took place Wednesday, in which the unit's colors were taken down and put into a protective covering, marking the inactivation or redesignation of the unit.
On Monday, during a briefing at NNMC, WRAMC staff, leaders, former commanders, and other alumni were given a tour of the hospital, its new facilities and amenities. Rear Adm. Matthew Nathan, NNMC commander, explained to the group of more than 60 people that the hospitals, merging together, bring the best of both worlds. "One team, one title," he said.
There is no other place that takes care of wounded warriors, the First Family, congressional leaders, while conducting research, he added. "We believe, at the end of the day, we're going to create this synergy of talent and culture."
Col. Norvell V. Coots, WRAMC commander and CEO of Walter Reed Health Care System, said to Army wounded warriors, family members, veterans, dependents and others receiving care that the quality of care will continue to be the best in the world.
"This is not an end, this is just the beginning of the future of the military health system ... The flagship of Army medicine and the flagship of Navy medicine will merge together for the betterment of all of our beneficiaries, and particularly those wounded warriors that are coming from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan," said Coots."The care you've been getting for years and years at Walter Reed will not end.”
"We've been talking about this move for the past five or six years," said Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, the Army Surgeon General. "Now we are so [close] toward achieving our final goal, with the help of the Navy, (and) in full view of the nation."
"To make this move during the pinnacle of war, to combine the Navy and Army and build a new hospital, three times the size of the original hospital ... this is comparable to flying that helicopter through a field of combat," Schoomaker said at a July 6 meeting with WRAMC staff. "By Sept. 15, 2011, I'm absolutely convinced [we can make this move] without a hitch."