Walter Reed Closing: U.S. Army's Flagship Hospital Shutting Doors After More Than A Century

July 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army’s flagship hospital where privates to presidents have gone for care, is closing its doors after more than a century.

Hundreds of thousands of the nation’s war wounded from World War I to today have received treatment at Walter Reed, including 18,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Dwight Eisenhower died there. So did Gens. John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur.

It’s where countless celebrities, from Bob Hope to quarterback Tom Brady, have stopped to show their respect to the wounded. Through the use of medical diplomacy, the center also has tended to foreign leaders.

The storied hospital, which opened in 1909, was scarred by a 2007 scandal about substandard living conditions on its grounds for wounded troops in outpatient care and the red tape they faced. It led to improved care for the wounded, at Walter Reed and throughout the military. By then, however, plans were moving forward to close Walter Reed’s campus.

Two years earlier, a government commission, noting that Walter Reed was showing its age, voted to close the facility and consolidate its operations with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and a hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va., to save money.

Former and current patients and staff members will say goodbye at a ceremony Wednesday on the parade grounds in front of the main concrete and glass hospital complex. Most of the moving will occur in August. On Sept. 15, the Army hands over the campus to the new tenants: the State Department and the District of Columbia. The buildings on campus deemed national historic landmarks will be preserved; others probably will be torn down. The city is expected to develop its section for retail and other uses.

“For many of the staff members, even though they know that this is the future of the military health system, in a way, it’s still like losing your favorite uncle, and so there is a certain amount of mourning that is going on and it is an emotional time,” said Col. Norvell Coots, commander of the Walter Reed Health Care System.

The new facility will be called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It will consolidate many of Walter Reed’s current offerings with the Navy hospital.

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Military Order of the Purple Heart Salutes Walter Reed Army Medical Center

July 26, 2011

On the occasion of the closing of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Military Order of the Purple Heart salutes the magnificent Doctors, Nurses, Corpsmen, Medics, and professional staff who have selflessly devoted their lives to treating our nation’s wounded servicemen and women, Presidents and privates alike, and active duty and retired military personnel and their families.

Opened in 1909, hundreds of thousands of the nation’s war wounded from World War I to today, including 18,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been treated at the hospital. The hospital was named for Major Walter Reed, a U.S. Army surgeon who confirmed the theory that yellow fever was transmitted by a particular species of mosquitoes. Reed’s success with stopping the spread of yellow fever made it possible for the building of the Panama Canal where previously the mosquitoes had caused so much death due to the disease.

The official ‘casing of the colors’ ceremony for Walter Reed Army Medical Center will take place on July 27th, and movement of the patients will begin in August. According to VADM John M. Mateczun, Commander of D.C.-area medical facilities, “This is the largest medical restructuring ever undertaken in the military health care system.” Patients will be moved to either the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center or to Ft. Belvoir into what will become the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. When the consolidations are over, the new Walter Reed will have 345 beds in all, including 50 intensive care beds and 20 operating rooms. The community hospital at Belvoir will have 120 beds, including 10 each for ICU and surgery. Mateczun noted, “At this time of year we’re generally receiving back about 20 inpatients evacuating from Iraq and Afghanistan a week.”

The organization now known as the “Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.,” (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America’s military history. Most importantly, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance. Through the VAVS program, MOPH volunteers provide assistance to hospitalized veterans at VA sites and State Veterans Homes.

For further information contact:
National Public Relations Director, John Bircher, 352-753-5535, Email:

Missouri POW/MIA Awareness Run and Ceremony

July 18, 2011

Floral Flag

June 13, 2011

The 2002 Floral Flag was planted by the Bodger Seed Company. Planted as a tribute after the September 11, 2001 tragedy.

The 2002 floral flag was 740 feet wide and 390 feet high and maintained the proper flag dimensions as described in executive order #10834. This flag was 6.65 acres and was the first floral flag to be planted with 5 pointed stars, each star was 24 feet in diameter and each stripe 30 feet wide. This flag was estimated to contain more than 400,000 Larkspur plants with 4-5 flower stems each for a total of more than 2 million flowers. It’s life span was approximately 3 months and went to seed in early August 2002.

Updates on Recent Events

May 16, 2011

Wow…..spring has sprung a “leak.” It is so sad to watch the damage of floods and tornadoes………heart breaking.

On a positive note, “Hand in Hand Branson Honors Purple Heart Recipients” was a huge success, with more Purple Hearts Registered than last year and more people in general. Also, we had as many new attendees as we had our wonderful regulars.

Our motorcycle run had over 65 cycles. It was so cool to watch them come around the corner at the Hamner Barber Theatre…..they had huge smiles on their faces when they saw all of us. It was a win-win……Jimmie Russell was so excited to see the turnout and they even had a 50/50 and gave the foundation a portion of the take. I was overwhelmed by their generosity.

The 2012 event will be the last week-end in April, so put it on your calendar now. The 26, 27, 28th of April. The majority of the attendees liked it this week-end. The program will be on the different ways to help the veteran. This year we broke into groups and everyone loved it. A suggestion was made to rotate the speakers to the groups after so much time, that way all the topics for the day would be discussed with new people. The National Military Order of the Purple Heart really did an out standing job and we are so pleased to have them available for us next year as well.

November 10, 2011 is the 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball. I am waiting to finalize the guest speaker. This event is so “special” and we open it to all branches of the service as well as the general public. I will have more information soon.

“Hand in Hand for Veterans” is our latest project. All the paper work is complete, the board is in place, our mission statement is complete, our logo is complete, and now we begin fundraising so we can make a difference in the life of a veteran. If any of you know someone or an organization that would like to make a contribution for our organization, please give them my name, etc. Both the Purple Heart Event and the Marine Corps Ball have moved into the organization of “Hand in Hand for Veterans.” By making this transition we hope to have more money and do more for those veterans & their families in need.

Today I attend the ceremony for the “Flame of Freedom” which the POW/MIA are hosting here in Branson. The motorcycle riders came in last night and today after the ceremony, they will continue their ride to Washington DC.

Thank you Rolling Thunder for the difference you are making!

We will soon be having a place for comments and discussion. I think this would be great. Don’t forget to visit all the different banners so they know people come to our Veterans Galleria site.

The theme for the flame of the Purple Heart is:
“This flame is a symbol of hope, a blaze for the sad and forlorn, warmth for the spirit and eternal as you go forth making a difference.”

Until next time….God Bless and I hope to hear from you!!

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