WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Washington, D.C. (Aug. 11, 2011) --
Staff members of the United States Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment are making the final preparations to move wounded, ill and injured (WII) Marines from Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in Washington, D.C. to the future Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. in about three weeks.
Capt. Aloysius Boyle, the company commander of the WRAMC Marine detachment, is instrumental in planning for a smooth transition for the Marines.
Boyle, an experienced combat leader, says his experiences on the battlefield prepared him for his new mission of ensuring the non-medical needs of WII Marines and their families are met during the move from Walter Reed to the new facility in Bethesda.
“For us, this process is just Marines taking care of their own,” said Boyle. That is what Semper Fidelis truly means; always faithful to the Corps, the mission, and the men and women who support it. We say, mission first, Marines always. In this case, the mission is the Marines themselves. The Marines and their families are our priority for this move.”
Approximately 55 WII Marines and 15 staff members who are currently serving in the Wounded Warrior Battalion East, WRAMC Marine detachment, will make the move. Some of the Marines are in outpatient status, going to appointments during the day and living outside of the main hospital, either on base or in neighboring towns. Other Marines are in inpatient status and live inside the main hospital to receive constant care.
This move is part of the Base Realignment and Closure-mandated consolidation of the Navy and Army flagship medical centers in the National Capital Region. It will bring each of the services’ recent combat medical experiences, innovative research and technology, and best practices in evidence-based patient care together “under one roof.”
During normal operations, Boyle is responsible for mentoring and guiding WII Marines, their families, and his staff while coordinating with those involved in the recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration process for each Marine. This includes a unity of effort involving all branches of service, hospital staff, medical professionals, civilian contractors, and non-profit organizations.
But with the merger of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center Bethesda weeks away, it is anything but business as usual. For months, Boyle has pulled together his section leaders for regular meetings to discuss the upcoming move. In turn, section leaders conduct one-on-one meetings with WII Marines and their families to pass along information about the move and answer their questions. The Marines who receive treatment at Walter Reed also attend periodic town hall meetings hosted not only by the Marine Corps staff,
but also Joint Task Force, National Capital Region Medical staff. For Marines who are currently inpatients, section leaders conduct business bedside.
Boyle relies on his dedicated section leaders working around the clock in the hospital with him to provide caring and concerned leadership for the Marines. Daily, his staff supports the various non-medical needs of Marines and their families. The medical staff diligently ensures each individual meets their goals through physical and occupational therapy. Together, this team provides comprehensive care which encompasses the mind, body, spirit and family.
Even though Boyle has left the familiar arena of training his Marines on infantry weapons and tactics, he hasn’t missed a beat in his new leadership position.
“I am honored to have spent seven years leading Marines both at home and overseas doing whatever it takes to accomplish the mission and taking care of our most precious resource, the Marine,” said Boyle. “I have executed numerous casualty evacuations while in combat, but have never been on the receiving end. Working in the hospital, and caring for our wounded has been quite an education, and certainly one of the most meaningful things I have done in the Marine Corps.”
When asked what he thinks it will be like moving to a facility that has all branches of service contributing to warrior care, he says, “I think it’s a great thing. Our Commander in Chief, President Obama, stated that we have a moral obligation to provide the best possible care and treatment. All branches of service understand his intent and there is tremendous cohesion across the military to ensure our warriors receive this care.”
Boyle likens this move to wartime operations when Marines interact will other branches of service for mission accomplishment.
“As Marines, we train at home, and deploy with other branches of service. We rely on their support in times of conflict while under duress. The ‘Band of Brothers’ mentality begins in training, is carried over into combat, and continues throughout injuries and casualty evacuations. We are accustomed to relying on each other, particularly for our medical care. Here at Walter Reed we have worked primarily with the Army, and have frequent contact with Navy and Air Force too,” said Boyle.
Boyle says that because he and his section leaders regularly talk to the Marines directly about the move, they all have the same expectations. This continuity and communication will be integral to a successful transition.
“Most of the Marine patients and families who live on base at Walter Reed, just a few yards away from the hospital, know they will get great care, so most were concerned about where they will live, and what the new accommodations would be like,” said Boyle.
In June, WII Marines and their families who will be living on base in the Wounded Warrior complex at the new facility, WRNMMC, got a chance to see firsthand where they would be living later this summer.
“I think they were pleasantly surprised when they were able to take a tour of their new rooms. The rooms are equipped with a washer and dryer, as well as a kitchen, something they don’t presently have. They were glad to see that the rooms have flat screen TVs, spacious bathrooms, and two bedrooms with ample walk-in closet space for their personal belongings and adaptive medical gear,” said Boyle.
Even if a Marine wasn’t able to make the tour, or is in inpatient status, they can take a look. Photos of the rooms have been posted to JTF CapMed’s Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtfcapmed.
Overall, Boyle forecasts a smooth transition to the “new Walter Reed.” All of the services have worked together to ensure that every detail of this move has been considered. “I know that with all hands on deck for the move, we will be able do everything we can to make the transition as seamless as possible for our warriors.”
Established in 2007, the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment was created to provide and facilitate non-medical care to combat and non-combat wounded, ill, and injured Marines, and sailors attached to or in direct support of Marine units and their family members in order to assist them as they return to duty or transition to civilian life. The Regimental Headquarters element, located in Quantico, VA, commands the operations of two Wounded Warrior Battalions located at Camp Pendleton, Calif. and Camp Lejeune, N.C., and multiple detachments in locations around the globe.
For more information about the Wounded Warrior Regiment go to woundedwarriorregiment.org or call the Wounded Warrior Call Center at 877-487-6299. Visit us on our social media sites:
To find out more information about the integration, go to http://www.jtfcapmed.mil.