By Staff Sgt. Reeba Critser, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs

San Antonio, Tex., Jan. 18, 2005 (Army News Service) – More than 200 people attended the Jan. 14 opening ceremony of another Army Amputee Center - this one at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston. The first center opened in December at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center, Washington, D.C.

Army leadership, members of the San Antonio community including the mayor, and many amputees attended the opening.

The center is the Army’s only Level One Trauma Center and the Defense Department’s only Burn Center, which is open to all service members and works to give the injured full function of the amputated parts.

“This makes Brooke one of only six hospitals in the nation to carry both credentials,” said Brig. Gen. C. William Fox Jr., commander of BAMC. “We are now adding to this second DOD Amputee Care Center credentials that underscore our passion for the care for wounded soldiers.”

In addition to serving the amputees, this Amputee Center will also double as a place of research focus on how it can better serve the amputees in their physical and emotional status to include counselors and social work.

“This generation of Soldiers and future generations like them know we will always be there for them with the best medical care in the world,” Fox said. “The Army Medical Department, some 77,000 strong, will never stop ensuring that the men and women we ask to go into harm’s way have the very best medical care. Should they be evacuated home, they will receive the best care possible to restore them to duty,” he added. “If we are unable to do this, we will seamlessly transition them into the hands of our magnificent Veterans Medical System.”

Fox stressed that with technological advances, the current survival rate of combat injures for Soldiers participating in operations worldwide has gone from 76 percent to 91 percent.

“These forward medical efforts are the result of the ‘train as you will perform’ medical education that is present in our many Army medical centers like Brooke and Walter Reed that ensure our military receives the most highly trained and skilled doctors, nurses and medics for deployment forward,” he said.

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston pinned the Purple Heart on five Soldiers.

“Today is a humbling experience,” Cody said. “This is something I wish we didn’t have to do, but I’m honored that we’re doing it right. Today, we open the second Amputee Center as a commitment to say we’ll never leave our fallen behind.”