A color guard opens the ceremonial opening of the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
Top military leaders officially renamed the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Thursday. The new center, which was created by the Base Realignment and Closure Process (BRAC), combines the recently closed Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. with the Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the new expanded center will be especially beneficial to the most recently wounded veterans, because it can offer more services.
"In the early part of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, when our service members returned home for urgent and long-term care, the system was not fully ready to address the complex medical needs of these men and women," says Panetta.
In particular, Panetta says injuries suffered from IEDs so common from those wars can be focused on at the new Walter Reed. He adds that includes mental health treatment as well as physical injuries: "The severity of these injuries has increased the demand for medical care tailored to these individual needs."
Just last week, the federal government awarded almost $90 million to the State of Maryland and Montgomery County transportation agencies to upgrade roads and intersections around the medical center. County leaders worried that without any changes on Rockville Pike and Jones Bridge Road, the area would suffer from constant gridlock because of traffic to the new center.