Walter Reed Army Medical Center

This article is about the U.S. Army medical center in use until August 27, 2011. For the research institute, see Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. For other uses, see Walter Reed (disambiguation).
Walter Reed Army Medical Center

WRGH ("Building 1") in the 1930s
Active May 1, 1909 August 27, 2011
Country  United States of America
Branch  United States Army
Type Hospital
Role Militarized healthcare
Motto(s) "We Provide Warrior Care"
LTG Kevin C. Kiley (2002–June 2004; March 1–2, 2007)
MG Kenneth L. Farmer Jr. (June 2004–Aug. 25, 2006)
MG. George W. Weightman (Aug. 25, 2006–March 1, 2007)
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Walter Reed Health Care System

Location 6900 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., United States
Coordinates 38°58′30″N 77°01′48″W / 38.975°N 77.03°W / 38.975; -77.03Coordinates: 38°58′30″N 77°01′48″W / 38.975°N 77.03°W / 38.975; -77.03
Care system Military
Hospital type General
Founded May 1, 1909
Website Walter Reed National Military Center
Lists Hospitals in Washington, D.C.

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) — known as Walter Reed General Hospital (WRGH) until 1951 — was the U.S. Army's flagship medical center from 1909 to 2011. Located on 113 acres (46 ha) in Washington, D.C., it served more than 150,000 active and retired personnel from all branches of the military. The center was named after Major Walter Reed (1851–1902), an army physician who led the team that confirmed that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes rather than direct contact.

Since its origins, the WRAMC medical care facility grew from a bed capacity of 80 patients to approximately 5,500 rooms covering more than 28 acres (11 ha) of floor space. WRAMC combined with the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland in 2011 to form the tri-service Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).


Origins at Fort McNair

Fort Lesley J. McNair, located in southwest Washington, D.C. on land set aside by George Washington as a military reservation, is the third oldest U.S. Army installation in continuous use in the United States after West Point and Carlisle Barracks. Its position at the confluence of the Anacostia River and the Potomac River made it an excellent site for the defense of the nation's capital. Dating back to 1791, the post served as an arsenal, played an important role in the nation's defense, and housed the first U.S. Federal Penitentiary from 1839 to 1862.

Today, Fort McNair enjoys a strong tradition as the intellectual headquarters for defense. Furthermore, with unparalleled vistas of the picturesque waterfront and the opposing Virginia shoreline, the historic health clinic at Fort McNair, the precursor of today's Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), overlooks the residences of top officials who choose the famed facility for the delivery of their health care needs.

"Walter Reed's Clinic," the location of the present day health clinic at Washington D.C., occupies what was from 1898 until 1909 the General Hospital at what was then Washington Barracks, long before the post was renamed in honor of Lt. Gen. McNair who was killed in 1944. The hospital served as the forerunner of Walter Reed General Hospital; however, the Victorian era waterfront dispensary remains and is perhaps one of America's most historically significant military medical treatment facilities. It is reported that Walter Reed lived and worked in the facility when he was assigned as Camp Surgeon from 1881 to 1882. After having served on other assignments, he returned as Professor of Medicine and Curator of the Army Medical Museum. Some of his epidemiological work included studies at Washington Barracks, and he is best known for discovering the transmission of yellow fever. In 1902, Major Reed underwent emergency surgery here for appendicitis and died of complications in this U.S. Army Medical Treatment Facility (MTF), within the very walls of what became his final military duty assignment.[1]

Regarding the structure itself, since the 1890s the health clinic was used as an Army General Hospital where physicians, corpsmen and nurses were trained in military health care. In 1899, the morgue was constructed which now houses the Dental Clinic, and in 1901 the hospital became an entirely separate command. This new organizational command relocated eight years later with the aide of horse-drawn wagons and an experimental steam driven ambulance in 1909. Departing from the 50-bed hospital, as documented in The Army Nursing Newsletter, Volume 99, Issue 2, February 2000,[2] they set out due north transporting with them 11 patients initially to the new 65-bed facility in the northern aspect of the capital. Having departed Ft. McNair, the organization has since developed into the Walter Reed Army Medical Center that we know today.

As for the facility they left behind at Fort McNair, it functioned in a smaller role as a post hospital until 1911 when the west wing was converted into a clinic.

Walter Reed General Hospital and WRAMC

Congressional legislation appropriated $192,000 for the construction of Walter Reed General Hospital[3] (WRGH, now known as "Building 1"), and the first ten patients were admitted on May 1, 1909. Lieutenant Colonel William Cline Borden was the initiator, planner and effective mover for the creation, location, and first Congressional support of the Medical Center. Due to his efforts, the facility was nicknamed "Borden's Dream."[4]

In 1923, General John J. Pershing signed the War Department order creating the "Army Medical Center" (AMC) within the same campus as the WRGH. (At this time, the Army Medical School was relocated from 604 Louisiana Avenue and became the "Medical Department Professional Service School" (MDPSS) in the new Building 40.) Pershing lived at Walter Reed from 1944 until his death there July 15, 1948.

The Walter Reed General Hospital (main building with cupola in distance at far left) in September, 1919. The WRGH was the precursor to WRAMC.

In September 1951, "General Order Number 8" combined the WRGH with the AMC, and the entire complex of 100 rose-brick Georgian Revival style buildings was at that time renamed the "Walter Reed Army Medical Center" (WRAMC). In June 1955, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) occupied the new Building 54 and, in November, what had been MDPSS was renamed the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). 1964 saw the birth of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing (WRAIN). Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower died at WRAMC on March 28, 1969.

Starting in 1972, a huge new WRAMC building (Building 2) was constructed and made ready for occupation by 1977. WRAIR moved from Building 40 to a large new facility on the WRAMC Forest Glen Annex in Maryland in 1999. Subsequently, Building 40 was slated for renovation under an enhanced use lease by a private developer.

In 2007, the University of Pennsylvania and WRAMC established a partnership whereby proton therapy technology would be available to treat United States military personnel and veterans in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine's new Roberts Proton Therapy Center.[5][6]

2007 neglect scandal

In February 2007, The Washington Post published a series of investigative articles outlining cases of alleged neglect (physical deterioration of housing quarters outside hospital grounds, bureaucratic nightmares, etc.) at WRAMC as reported by outpatient soldiers and their family. A scandal and media furor quickly developed resulting in the firing of the WRAMC commanding general Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman,[7] the resignation of Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey (reportedly at the request of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates[8]), the forced resignation of Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, hospital commander from 2002 to 2004.[9] Congressional committee hearings were called and numerous politicians weighed in on the matter including President George W. Bush, who had appointed Harvey and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Several independent governmental investigations are ongoing and the controversy has spread to other military health facilities and the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.

2005 BRAC recommendation and 2011 closure

President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush visit Sgt. Patrick Hagood of Anderson, SC on October 5, 2005

As part of a Base Realignment and Closure announcement on May 13, 2005, the Department of Defense proposed replacing Walter Reed Army Medical Center with a new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC); the new center would be on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, seven miles (11 km) from WRAMC's current location in Washington, D.C. The proposal was part of a program to transform medical facilities into joint facilities, with staff including Army, Navy, and Air Force medical personnel.

On August 25, 2005, the BRAC Committee recommended passage of the plans for the WRNMMC. The transfer of services from the existing to the new facilities was gradual to allow for continuity of care for the thousands of service members, retirees and family members that depended upon WRAMC. The end of operations at the WRAMC facility occurred on August 27, 2011.[10] The Army says the cost of closing that hospital and consolidating it with Bethesda Naval Medical Center in suburban Maryland more than doubled to $2.6 billion since the plan was announced in 2005 by the Base Realignment and Closing Commission (BRAC).[11]

The medical center's Georgia Avenue campus was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

Notable people who died at WRGH or WRAMC

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.


In addition to the WRAMC hospital complex, the WRAMC installation hosted a number of other related activities and organizations.

Commanding officers

Walter Reed Army Medical Center[18]

Image Rank Name Begin Date End Date Notes
Major General Carla G. Hawley-Bowland December 2007 July 29, 2011 Cased the Medical Center colors
Major General Schoomaker, Eric B.Eric B. Schoomaker March 2007 November 2007 Later Surgeon General of the Army
Lieutenant General Kiley, Kevin C.Kevin C. Kiley March 1, 2007 March 2, 2007 Simultaneously serving as Surgeon General of the Army
Major General Weightman, George W.George W. Weightman August 2006 March 1, 2007
Major General Farmer, Jr., Kenneth L.Kenneth L. Farmer, Jr. June 2004 August 2006
Major General Kiley, Kevin C.Kevin C. Kiley June 2002 June 2004 Later Surgeon General of the Army
Major General Harold L. Timboe May 1999 June 2002
Major General Leslie M. Burger November 1996 May 1999
Major General Blanck, Ronald R.Ronald R. Blanck October 1992 October 1996 Later Surgeon General of the Army
Major General Richard D. Cameron May 1989 October 1992 Later Commanding General, United States Army Health Services Command
Colonel James E. Hastings March 1989 May 1989
Major General James H. Rumbaugh August 1988 March 1989 Died while in command
Major General Louis A. Malogne June 1983 August 1988 Died while in command
Major General Mendez, Jr., EnriqueEnrique Mendez, Jr. October 1981 June 1983 Later Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs)
Major General Mittemeyer, Bernard T.Bernard T. Mittemeyer June 1980 September 1981 Later Surgeon General of the Army
Major General George I. Baker March 1978 June 1980
Major General Robert Bernstein June 1973 February 1978
Major General William H. Moncrief May 1972 April 1973
Brigadier General William H. Meroney April 1972 May 1972
Major General Colin F. Vorder Brugge January 1971 March 1972
Major General Carl W. Hughes November 1970 January 1971
Major General Glenn J. Collins June 1969 October 1970
Major General Phillip W. Mallory May 1967 June 1969
Major General Douglas O. Kendrick June 1965 March 1967
Major General Achilles L. Tynes September 1962 May 1965
Major General Clinton S. Lyter May 1961 September 1962
Major General C. F. St. John July 1959 April 1961
Major General Heaton, Leonard D.Leonard D. Heaton April 1953 June 1959 Later Surgeon General of the Army
Major General Paul H. Streit September 1951 March 1953

The Army Medical Center[19]

Image Rank Name Begin Date End Date Notes
Major General Paul H. Streit January 1949 February 1951
Major General George C. Beach March 1946 November 1948
Major General Shelly U. Marietta February 1941 February 1946
Brigadier General Raymond F. Metcalfe December 1939 January 1941
Brigadier General Wallace C. DeWitt August 1935 December 1939
Brigadier General Albert E. Truby January 1932 July 1935 As a Lieutenant, Truby served under Walter Reed in Cuba during the yellow fever experiments
Brigadier General Darnall, Carl R.Carl R. Darnall December 1929 December 1931
Brigadier General James M. Kennedy March 1926 December 1929
Brigadier General James D. Glennan March 1919 March 1926

Walter Reed General Hospital[20]

Image Rank Name Begin Date End Date Notes
Brigadier General James D. Glennan March 1919 March 1926
Colonel Edward R. Schreiner August 1918 March 1919
Colonel Willard F. Truby November 1917 August 1918
Colonel Charles P. Mason October 1916 November 1917
MajorPercy M. Ashburn September 1915 October 1916
Colonel John L. Phillips May 1914 September 1915
Colonel Henry C. "Pinky" Fisher August 1913 May 1914 [21]
Colonel H. P. Birmingham October 1912 May 1913
Colonel Charles Richard September 1911 September 1912
Colonel William H. Arthur June 1, 1908 July 11, 1911 [22]Worked with Major Walter Reed at the Army Medical Bacteriological Laboratory while stationed at Fort Myer, Virginia, 1895-1897. Retired as a Brigadier General in 1918.[23]

See also


  1. Adler, 2014
  2. North Atlantic Regional Medical Command
  3. "Hospital Under Way". The Washington Post. February 3, 1907. p. R7.
  4. Major Walter Reed, Medical Corps, U.S. Army.
  5. "Collaborative Research Effort with the United States Military | Roberts Proton Therapy Center". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  6. "The University of Pennsylvania/Walter Reed Army Medical Center proton therapy program". Technol. Cancer Res. Treat. 6 (4 Suppl): 73–6. August 2007. PMID 17668956.
  7. Walter Reed General Loses His Command
  8. Army secretary resigns in scandal's wake
  9. Army's Kiley ousted in Walter Reed furor
  10. "Walter Reed Army Medical Center closes its doors in final ceremony". CNN. August 27, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  11. "Health care difficulties in the Big Easy". CNN. February 28, 2006.
  12. Roger Brooke obituary
  13. "Gen Francis Henry French Dead". New York Times. March 11, 1921. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
  16. Mossman, Billy C.; Stark, M. Warner (1972). The Last Salute: Civil and Military Funerals, 1921-1969. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. pp. 81–86.

Further reading

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