Walter Reed closing in September
The iconic Walter Reed Army Medical Center is in the final days of its 102-year run. Slated to close in September by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission in 2005, the center will begin moving next month.
“This is the largest medical restructuring ever undertaken in the military health system,” Navy Vice Adm. John M. Mateczun, commander of Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, told the Army News Service.
The BRAC, citing aging facilities and cost savings, mandated that the closure would take place by September 15. Walter Reed’s services are to be relocated to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The naval medical center will be renamed the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda. A new facility in northern Virginia, the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, scheduled to open in August, will buttress the healthcare network and replace DeWitt Army Community Hospital.
The military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, reported that about 445 troops are currently at Walter Reed. Two-thirds of those patients will be transferred to Walter Reed’s new facility in Bethesda and the rest will go to Fort Belvoir. Those Tricare members receiving primary care services at Walter Reed are being transferred to Bethesda or other facilities in the area.
The military newspaper said that the realignment has cost $2.6 billion, far exceeding the original budget of $1 billion.
Reuters reported that many of Walter Reed’s 5,000-plus employees will transfer to the new locations.
Events marking the closure include a flag casing ceremony symbolically signifying the closing of the unit, a concert and a change of command ceremony.
The army will hand over the Walter Reed campus to the State Department and the District of Columbia, reported the Associated Press. It is likely that those buildings not selected as national historic landmarks will be demolished.