American Forces Press Service
FORT BELVOIR, Va., Oct. 28, 2011 – The military’s new state-of-the-art community hospital here is a testament to the love Americans feel for service members and their families, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness said today.
“We’re in a nation now that cares deeply about people in uniform,” Clifford L. Stanley told hundreds of people who gathered here for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, which opened last month.
Stanley spoke to a crowd of dignitaries, hospital workers, service members and civilians who gathered outside the hospital on a crisp, fall morning. The Army’s Golden Knights parachute team jumped into a cloudless, blue sky and the Navy Band and Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps played as part of the celebration of the hospital’s opening, part of a five-year base realignment and closure effort.
The occasion, Stanley said, held both professional and personal meaning to him. The staff at Dewitt Army Community Hospital once saved the life of his wife, a paraplegic who had developed sepsis, he explained. Also, Stanley grew up visiting the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where his mother was a nurse practitioner, and his daughter is a Navy nurse at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
The nation has been “so fortunate and blessed” to have the kind of modern medicine and technology showcased at the new Belvoir hospital that allows people to live longer and better with their injuries, the undersecretary said.
Army Col. Susan Annicelli, commander of the new hospital, said the staff of more than 3,000 underwent a “herculean effort” amid a hurricane, earthquake and floods in the late summer and early fall to move out of DeWitt Army Community Hospital here and into the new facility, which is triple the size of the old hospital.
Navy Adm. John M. Mateczun, commander of Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, said the hospital offers 25 new medical specialties from the old hospital, is environmentally friendly, and gives patients more control. Patients may control lighting and temperatures in their rooms, and will be notified of each professional’s name and occupation as they enter the room, he said.
“This is America’s newest, most extraordinary, most technically advanced facility, and we’re glad to have it in the military health system,” Mateczun said.