Ground has been broken on a major USO center at Fort Belvoir that will provide wounded Army soldiers with a place outside the hospital to recover from injuries and to be with their families.
The Wounded Warrior and Family Center at the Army post in Fairfax County will be the nation’s first stateside USO facility providing non-critical care and support for recovering service members and their families.
The 25,000-square-foot facility, which will include family-friendly rooms and play spaces, kitchens, laundry rooms, classrooms, movie theaters and healing gardens, is intended for recovering soldiers to relax with their families away from a hospital environment.
“This building will stand as a testament of America’s promise that, together with our wounded warriors and their families, the battle will be fought and won,” Sloan Gibson, president of the USO, said at the ceremonial groundbreaking Monday.
Another center is planned for the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
The USO describes the centers as the largest initiatve undertaken by the organization since its inception in 1941. It is in the midst of Operation Enduring Care, a $100 million capital fundraising campaign, to build and fund them.
The Fort Belvoir facility is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2012.
“This center will be an important cog in our proven concept of soldier and family center care and recovery,” said Col. John J. Strycula, garrison commander at Fort Belvoir. “The family center will accelerate our heroes and their families’ recovery process and help them embrace the future.
A new Army hospital is set to open at Fort Belvoir in August as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure legislation. That plan also involves closing Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and moving its services to Fort Belvoir and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.
The USO operates similar recovery facilities at Ramstein Air Base and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.