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New Center Makes Good on Military’s Commitment to Wounded Warriors

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2007 – The new Military Advanced Training Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here represents “an evolution in how we embrace, treat and honor,” wounded warriors, the Army vice chief of staff said at yesterday’s opening ceremony. (Video)

Gen. Richard A. Cody said the new center demonstrates the military’s commitment to doing everything within its power to help wounded troops heal and go on to live productive lives.

The 31,000-square-foot, $10 million center offers some of the most state-of-the-art care found anywhere in the world and makes good on the military’s promise to take care of people “no matter the time, no matter the cost,” Cody said. “This nation will always stand behind you and your families,” he told the patients at the ceremony.

Cody said the new center will be a source of inspiration, both through the care provided and the drive patients show as they work to move beyond their injuries.

“On a daily basis, this center will be witness to incredible acts of kindness and medical professionalism and of personal courage and our warriors' indomitable spirit,” the general said.

The center will become the focus of “hard-won victories, painful breakthroughs, investment of sweat and tears and heart” that will become a source of pride to all who witness the fortitude and courage of young men and women within the ranks, Cody said.

Retired Army Gen. Frederick M. Franks Jr., who continued his military career after losing the lower half of his left leg during the Vietnam War, said he’s inspired by the heroism he’s seen among wounded troops being treated at Walter Reed.

“You are immediately struck by their quiet courage, go-forward attitude, fierce determination and commitment to their fellow soldiers and to our country,” he said.

The opening of the new Military Advanced Training Center demonstrates that the military reaches out to its wounded troops and makes good on its commitment to them, Franks told the audience. “Such a bond of trust is powerful and will be sustained,” he said.

Veteran Affairs Secretary James Nicholson joined Cody and Franks in praising the new center that “brings together heroism, miracles, competence, compassion and a nation's kept promise to our wounded warriors.” Battlefield wounds no longer mean that wounded troops must shelve their personal dreams or settle for less than fulfilling careers, he said.

“Today, with the opening of this training center, the lives of our soldiers wounded in the defense of freedom will have the opportunity for new avenues of hope and reality, new hope for a brighter future, including, for many, that of staying on active duty,” he said.

Nicholson said he’s often struck during visits to patients at Walter Reed that their biggest wish is to get back to duty with their units.

“This speaks volumes about the quality of leadership in their chain of command and about their satisfaction in what they are doing to thwart terrorism and to protect America,” he said. “It also speaks volumes about the quality of medical care and rehabilitation services that they receive here at Walter Reed.”

The new center will help enhance programs already available to help them. “And it will do so with the state-of-the-art, new, 21st-century technologies and advances in rehabilitation, and the most dedicated staff that I've ever met,” Nicholson said.

“Those warriors did not stop serving their country when they were wounded. Most of them will tell you they've only been sidelined,” he continued. “And now, with the tools of the 21st century at our disposal … and the staff of these miracle workers here at the Military Advanced Training Center, we will be helping those young men and women put back on their uniforms wherever possible.”

For those unable to do so, who go on to the VA medical-care system, Nicholson promised “that same blend of competence and compassion.”

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Biographies:
James Nicholson
Gen. Richard Cody, USA

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