On July 27, Army Secretary John M. McHugh spoke at a ceremony featuring
the casing of Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s (WRAMC) colors,
symbolizing the next step in the closing of the 102-year-old hospital.
A flag casing ceremony is a formal event where the colors, or flag, of
the unit are taken down and put into a protective covering. The casing of the
WRAMC colors marks the next step in WRAMC’s transition to Walter Reed
National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Fort Belvoir Community
Hospital in Virginia.
“For more than a century, this place, this grand campus has
symbolized the Army’s unyielding commitment to the care and treatment of
our wounded warriors,” McHugh said at the ceremony.
The history of WRAMC spans both world wars, the Korean conflict, the
Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The leaders and workers of WRAMC have always looked for new ways
to aid in the recovery of our wounded from groundbreaking prosthetics to
irreplaceable emotional support,” McHugh said at the ceremony. “And
that is truly what Walter Reed has always been about.”
Most of Walter Reed’s staff will be relocating to Bethesda, while
others will move to the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, which replaces the
former DeWitt Army Hospital on the Virginia post. The consolidation in Bethesda
was announced in 2005 and was mandated by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure
Act. The consolidation is expected to be complete by the end of September.
Patients will be moved in August.
“I can think of no better way to ensure the continued and
compassionate care of our wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast
guard men and women than by bringing together the best, the brightest the most
caring people to treat our men and women in uniform,” McHugh said at the
Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) celebrated its 102 years of
service to the nation with a ‘Casing the Colors’ ceremony, representative of
the transition of the name, the legacy and the high standards of care for our
beneficiaries to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at
Bethesda (NNMC) and the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. The clinical space
at both facilities reflects the intentional and deliberate commitment to
world-class health care, to innovation in design and in function, and to
research and education.
This transition heralds the birth of the future of the military health
system, caring for patients in a truly joint environment, much like the
environment in which our warriors fight. With the passing of Maj. Walter Reed’s
dress sword from Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland of WRAMC to Rear Adm.
Matthew Nathan of the NNMC, the torch was symbolically passed, and along with
it, the knowledge that there are great expectations for a seamless transition
in care for all of our beneficiaries across the full spectrum.
— Col. (P) Norvell Coots, MD
Walter Reed Health System