A Look at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Now Closed

A Walter Reed Hospital postcard, ca. 1930s Courtesy of Moody Medical Library, UTMB


The last doctors, nurses and patients are now gone from Walter Reed Medical Center. The flag was lowered this weekend ahead of time due to Hurricane Irene.

National Public Radio is paying tribute to the 102-year old institution with a series of stories this week. You can read more about the history in a Timeline of Walter Reed Medical Center provided by NPR.


Where Generations of Wounded Soldiers Healed and Moved On

by Steven Inskeep

Maj. Reed’s Medical Innovations

Walking into Walter Reed’s old hospital building feels like going back in time, as the building changes from concrete and glass to brick and radiators.

Atop one fireplace in the hospital sits a bust of an Army doctor, Maj. Walter Reed. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Reed served as a troubleshooter for the surgeon general.

Part 2:

Walter Reed Center’s Closure May Be A Boon to D.C.

By Sabri Ben-Achour


Neighborhood Businesses Face Change

Just after the midday rush at Ledo’s Pizza on Georgia Avenue in Northwest D.C., Tim and Kelly Shuy sit down at a table.

“We get a lot of military families, people who are visiting, folks who are in the hospital. We get a lot of contractors,” Kelly says.

Their pizzeria is across the street from the sprawling Walter Reed campus. Lush with trees and a hilly landscape, the campus includes several iconic 100-year-old buildings with red tile roofs where patients, their families and staff were able to wander and just look out on the rest of the neighborhood from a distance.

There’s also a link with some historical background at  Walter Reed at U.S. National Library of Medicine website.

10 Things You Can Do to Help Veterans with PTSD

Another lead up to PTSD Awareness Day, June 27.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of  the signature medical issues for returning combat veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. So, it’s important that the civilian community from employers to educators understand and know how to help those living with PTSD.

Vietnam veterans have been instrumental in pushing for PTSD awareness among the military hierarchy, government officials and civilian communities. For veterans, understanding the symptoms and seeking early treatment is critical for successfully living with the disorder. But, civilians can help too.

10 Ways community members can help:

  1. Understand that anyone can experience trauma, such as accidents, assault, war, or disasters.
  2. Think broadly. When trauma happens, the survivor’s family, friends, coworkers, and community are affected.
  3. Learn about common reactions to trauma and readjustment to life outside a war zone.
  4. Be aware of where to get help for trauma survivors, Veterans, and people with PTSD.
  5. Expand your understanding of how PTSD is identified and treated.
  6. Know that treatment for PTSD works.
  7. Ask a Veteran or trauma survivor if talking would help, but do not push if someone is not ready to discuss things.
  8. Realize that stigma is a barrier to getting treatment. Getting people to talk or seek help is not always easy. Your encouragement matters.
  9. Know the facts. More than half of US adults will experience trauma in their lifetime. About 7% of adults will deal with PTSD at some point. For Veterans and male and female sexual assault survivors, the figure is higher.
  10. Connect with self-help resources, apps, and videos about PTSD.

The list is courtesy of the VA National Center for PTSD. You can stay informed about PTSD through the PTSD Monthly Update.

PTSD: Who, What, Where and How to Get Help

Courtesy of the VA National Center for PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is usually associated with returning combat veterans, but did you know civilians can experience it too?

Living through a traumatic event can stress almost anyone and leave them with PTSD-like symptoms such as being jumpy or having nightmares, but that does not mean you have PTSD.

Bottom line whether military or civilian, we all need to know more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Enter the VA’s National Center for PTSD which has established PTSD Awareness Day June 27, 2011.

Why wait? Here’s a very comprehensive web page on Everything You Want to Know About PTSD and Should Ask About courtesy of Veterans Today.

PTSD Category Symptoms:

  • Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
  • Feeling numb
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)

If you think you may have PTSD, here’s an online PTSD  Screening Tool.

Children and adults, military and civilian, anyone can develop PTSD. The key is recognizing the symptoms and getting help early with the PTSD and any other related problems.

  • Depression
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Employment or school problems
  • Relationships problems
  • Physical symptoms

It’s important that everyone understand PTSD even if it’s not touched your family or friends, but if it has, you can help a family member. Here’s a list of where to get help for PTSD.

PTSD Awareness Day is just over a week away, you have time to study up and help someone, maybe yourself.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Visit www.ptsd.va.gov to learn more about trauma and PTSD. Special postings will be made each week throughout June.
  • Print educational materials from the site to hand out.
  • Post a PTSD Awareness Day flyer (PDF) in a common area, where it can be seen.

Mobile Apps Reduce PTSD Stress, Help Clinicians with TBI

Reducing stress  for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) could be as easy as turning on your smart phone.

The Department of Defense has released a new mobile application program for smart phone users.

Breathe2Relax, part of a growing collection of mobile apps developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), is available for iPhone® users now. An Android version will be available by the end of July. More information about Breathe2Relax is available at www.t2health.org/apps.

For Clinicians:

There’s an app for health care professionals serving the military community and veterans who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. They’ve released a new quick reference guide for your smartphone: the Mild TBI Pocket Guide Mobile Application.

Developed by DCoE and National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), the app is a comprehensive resource for primary care providers, on the treatment and management of patients with mild TBI and related symptoms.

The mobile app offers a wide range of diagnostic, treatment and information resources. Key features of the application include:

  • Interactive decision trees: Helps identify the best interventions and timing of services for patients to optimize quality of care and clinical outcomes
  • Symptom management: Identifies guidelines for managing common symptoms following mild TBI
  • Provider assessments: Provides frequently-used assessments and scoring tools used in treating patients with mild TBI
  • Relevant Defense Department ICD-9 coding: Consolidates appropriate codes for efficient documentation
  • Interactive links: Provides direct access to additional tools and resources

An electronic version of the Mild TBI Pocket Guide is also available for download on the DCoE website under TBI Clinical Documents. For hard copies of these documents, contact the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) at info@dvbic.org or 800-870-9244.

For information on additional mobile applications for behavioral health care purposes, check out the list of mobile apps available on the T2 website here: www.t2health.org/apps.

National advocate for wounded troops to speak in Tampa

Lee Woodruff is a rock star in the military community especially among those who have followed her husband Bob’s amazing journey to recovery after the convoy he was in was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006.  The ABC News co-anchor and reporter was on assignment in Taji, Iraq, about 12 miles north of Baghdad when he suffered severe head injuries and wounds to his upper body.


A national advocate for wounded servicemembers and their families, Lee will be in Tampa on March 10, 2011 to speak at a special conference for family and professional caregivers of polytrauma patients.

Lee Woodruff, author and co-founder of The Bob Woodruff Foundation and ReMIND.org.

Just a few weeks after my husband Rex returned from Afghanistan we got a call from the American Red Cross Tampa Bay Chapter asking if Rex could participate in this special conference. He immediately agreed and we’ve been helping out with organizing the conference ever since; Rex will serve as the event emcee. Now that event, the Second Annual Pathways to Resilience Caregivers Conference, is almost here offering various sessions and special presentations about intimacy, spirituality, coping and the reality of caregiving. The event is sponsored by the James A. Haley VA Hospital, the University of South Florida and the American Red Cross Tampa Bay chapter along with the very active American Red Cross student club at USF.

Lee co-wrote the best-selling book “In an Instant” with her husband Bob. This book is a compelling and at times quite funny description of her family’s journey to recovery. Along the way she and her husband started The Bob Woodruff Foundation (for more go to ReMIND.org), a national nonprofit that helps ensure the nation’s injured servicemembers, veterans and their families return to a homefront ready to support them. One the organization’s key goals is to educate the public about the needs of injured service members, veterans and their families as they reintegrate into their communities. Lee speaks to groups nationwide to raise awareness of traumatic brain injury and the sacrifices of our military and their families. And her husband Bob is back to work at ABC News and frequently covers the military in his critically acclaimed series Woodruff Reports.

This daylong conference will be held at the Marshall Student Center ballroom at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus on March 10, 2011. To sign up, please follow this link.

Why have the conference in Tampa? Because Tampa is home to the James A. Haley VA Hospital where some of the nation’s most severely wounded servicemembers come to seek treatment at the Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. It’s one of just four specialty facilities designed to provide intensive rehabilitative care to veterans and servicemembers who experienced severe injuries (including brain injuries) to more than one organ system.

Polytrauma is defined as two or more injuries sustained in the same incident that affect multiple body parts or organ systems and result in physical, cognitive, psychological, or psychosocial impairments and functional disabilities. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) frequently occurs as part of the polytrauma spectrum in combination with other disabling conditions, such as amputations, burns, pain, fractures, auditory and visual impairments, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health conditions. When present, injury to the brain is often the impairment that dictates the course of rehabilitation due to the nature of the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral deficits related to TBI.

Former First Lady Deserves Credit

Rosalynn Carter, provided by The Carter Center.

Rosalynn Carter deserves credit for this blog. No, she’s not a contributing author. But, my “Off the Base” blog is a direct result of her dedication to improving news coverage of mental health issues.

In my case, Mrs. Carter and her advisory board selected me as a 2010-2011 Rosalynn Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism in part because of my  focus on covering the stresses and successes of military families undergoing multiple deployments.

I was already reporting on military life and veterans issues before blogging. But as a general assignment reporter at WUSF 89.7, Tampa’s NPR affiliate, I also have to cover a lot of other topics. The journalism fellowship that Mrs. Carter created gives me the time, financial resources and access to mental health experts to improve and expand my reporting.

I’m only a few steps into the yearlong fellowship.  Yet, I have met some incredibly resilient veterans and some passionate active duty military and their families. I am learning and sharing information on research into PTSD, TBI and other issues. And there’s much more to come.

Just taking a moment to share my thanks and the credit with Mrs. Carter who beyond my selection as a fellow sponsored the Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy  in November,  A Veterans Journey Home: Reintegrating Our National Guard and Reservists into Family, Community, and Workplace. She’s given voice to veterans, to active duty, to families, to those dealing with mental health issues and to reporters.

And, she asked for no credit.

Wars’ Impact on Children Webinar and More

The  webinar, Indirect Neurotrauma: The Impact of War on Children, is set for April 28th and one of the 2011 monthly series scheduled by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. The online sessions offer an opportunity to “dialogue” with experts in various fields from both government and non-governmental organizations as well as listing a range of resources.

This is the second year the Webinars are being offered. Audio from 2010 Webinars also is available on topics like”Sports, the Military and Recurrent Concussion” and “Case Studies of Successful State Reintegration.”

Here’s the 2011 schedule:

Jan. 27: Peer-to-Peer Support Model Program

Feb. 24: Compassion Fatigue

March 24: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Co-occurring Psychological Health Disorders:
Focus on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury with Co-occurring Psychological Health
Disorders Toolkit

April 28: Indirect Neurotrauma: The Impact of War on Children

May 26: Operational Stress and In Theater Care

June 23: Anatomical/Physiological Changes Secondary to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

July 28: Reintegrative Medicine: Focusing on Family and Clinical Perspective, and
Adaptation Following Incident

Aug. 25: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Natural Disasters

Sept. 22: Neuropathophysiology of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Oct. 27: Generational Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Growth

Nov. 17: Holidays Apart from Family

December: No event due to the holidays

What better way to end 2010 than with “A Creed for a Comrade” – this video produced by the Defense Centers for Excellence:

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