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Walter Reed Army Medical Center, above, which has served the nation for 102 years, will close its doors Sept. 15, although a ceremony to case the colors of all Walter Reed activities will take place July 27.  Since 1909, soldiers from World War I and after and presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower have lived or died there. In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) voted to close the facility and move it to Bethesda.  On Wednesday, former and current patients and Walter Reed employees will say goodbye during a ceremony on the grounds. Most of the moving will take place in August.

Healing gardens are an important element of evidence-based design
 incorporated into the Walter Reed National Medical Center Warrior Complex

The Wounded Warrior complex at the
 Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

National Medical Center Warrior Complex.
The WRNMMC is located in Bethesda, Md.

The Wounded Warrior complex at the
Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005, the Department of Defense was required to combine four National Capital Region, or NCR, inpatient hospitals -- Walter Reed, Bethesda National Naval Medical Center, DeWitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va., and Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Joint Base Andrews, Md. -- into two while, maintaining the same patient care capacity. This is the largest medical restructuring ever undertaken in the military health system.

The new facility at Bethesda will include 345 medical-surgical beds, 50 intensive care unit beds and 20 operating rooms, while the expanded DeWitt will hold 120, 10 and 10, respectively. The two facilities should have more than enough capacity to care for all combat casualties, as well as family members and veterans, Mateczun said, especially because military medical facilities nationwide and civilian TRICARE partners can take additional cases if the need should arise.

The new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,
seen from the air, with Wisconsin Avenue in front,
 still shows the original tower that Franklin Delano Roosevelt designed.
But the growth around that tower has expanded to
 include portions of the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Of the 445 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers currently assigned to the Warrior Transition Brigade at Walter Reed, about a third will transition to DeWitt, while the other two-thirds will move to the Bethesda campus, added Lt. Col. Larry Gunther, the Warrior Transition Brigade executive officer. Both Bethesda and Belvoir have added and renovated barracks and lodging spaces for these servicemembers and their Families.

The Soldiers who will move to DeWitt are more ambulatory and need less specialized and intensive care. They may also have post-traumatic stress disorders, mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injuries and/or substance abuse problems, as the Fort Belvoir hospital is adding additional inpatient behavioral health and substance-abuse programs.

Servicemembers evacuated from theater and patients who need very specialized care for catastrophic injuries such as complex orthopedic trauma and open traumatic brain injuries will go to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center along with the specialized doctors and other medical professionals who care for them. Complex surgeries such as organ transplants will also occur at the Bethesda site.
(Wash Post, 7/25/2011, U.S. Army)