By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON - About 200 outpatient wounded warriors moved from Walter Reed Army Medical Center last weekend to the nearby National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., as the two hospitals move closer to becoming one.
More than 100 inpatients moved from Walter Reed's wards to Bethesda by ambulance on Sunday, and the flag was lowered for good at the 102-year-old Army hospital.
Also as part of the changes in military health care facilities in the national capital region mandated by the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005, some of Walter Reed's functions, patients and staff are moving to the newly expanded DeWitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va.
After the Army and Navy hospitals merge, the Bethesda campus will be renamed the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Walter Reed's era of caring for privates to presidents has spanned both world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam and the return of prisoners of war, and the decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At a recent transition ceremony, military medical leaders reflected on Walter Reed's history as the Army's flagship of medicine.
"It is bittersweet that we are marking an ending to mark a new beginning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center," said Army Col. Norvell V. "Van" Coots, commander of Walter Reed's health care system. "You can go anywhere in the world, and … people who don't speak English know the words 'Walter Reed.' To me, that's how you define 'iconic.'"
Built for 80 inpatients in 1909 under a single roof in a Georgian-brick building, the former Walter Reed General Hospital eventually became the bustling medical campus it is today, with 72 buildings on a 113-acre plot of land, closely surrounded by a neighborhood in the upper-northwest quadrant of the nation's capital.