Yesterday, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, at Bethesda (WRNMMC) bid farewell to Rear Admiral Matthew L. Nathan, in a change of command ceremony. Nathan served as Commander of WRNMMC and its predecessor, the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC), since August 2008 and has been nominated to be Surgeon General of the Navy and Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
Rear Admiral Alton L. Stocks relieved Nathan and is now the new Commander of (WRNMMC). Stocks, a pediatrician and surface warfare medical officer, served as Commander of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and Navy Medicine East before assuming command of WRNMMC. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Georgetown University School of Medicine.
In a farewell message to staff Nathan stated, "At any given moment on this campus, there is the look of determination on the wounded warrior, who just days ago put [his] life on the line. There is the look of hope in the eyes of parents as our staff surrounds their newborn fighting for a life yet promised. There is the look of something new as a family walks into the NICoE [National Intrepid Center of Excellence] for the first time as we surround the invisible wounds of war, and there is the look of 'I am here to help you' from every member of this staff, regardless of where you work, or where you came from ... you unite to give hope to the hopeless, and help to the helpless.
During this transition, under Nathan's watch, many significant milestones were achieved, to include the opening of the new America outpatient building, and Arrowhead inpatient building, as well as a seamless move of patients from WRAMC to NNMC.
As new buildings were completed including the NICoE, new parking structures, and Wounded Warrior Barracks, administrative offices and a Joint Warrior Transition Unit hundreds of hospital square footage underwent renovations and clinics relocated to accommodate the integration.
Also during this transition, while under Nathan's command, NNMC had a successful Joint Commission and Navy Medical Inspector General inspection. The physician surveyor from the Joint Commission stated, "We feel this hospital is world class and we're all humbled to be here."
As his last direction to staff, Nathan urged all to, "Celebrate the past, build on it, cherish it, but do not hold on too tight. The men and women who first created National Naval Medical Center and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center had vision and courage to do what had not been done. Honor their courage and vision with that of your own. You are 6,000 thoroughbreds, you can all pull different directions and the place stands still, but if you lean into it shoulder to shoulder you will rocket the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda forward into a world of unparalleled caring and excellence. America needed the best, and they got it with each of you. Build this world class campus together, charting new waters and making history ... I leave you with the same direction on my last day in command that I sent out on my first."
"Take care of those who rely on you, take care of each other, and take care of yourselves ... and never, ever, forget the difference you make in the lives of those who entrust them to you."