Center for War Amputees Opens
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 29 -- A $50 million high-tech rehabilitation center opened its doors Monday, designed to serve the growing number of U.S. troops who return from war as amputees or with severe burns.
The privately funded Center for the Intrepid includes a rock-climbing wall, a wave pool and a virtual-reality computer system. About 3,200 people attended a dedication ceremony, including Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), both 2008 presidential hopefuls.
Of the roughly 20,000 U.S. forces injured since the start of the Iraq war, more than 500 have lost a limb -- many in roadside bombings.
The 60,000-square-foot four-story glass building will allow the Army to move its rehabilitation program from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
Before the Iraq war, amputees were generally given acute care by the military and then turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, said retired Col. Rebecca Hooper, program manager for the Center for the Intrepid.
Since 2003, the military has kept those patients and made rehabilitation part of its mission. Amputee rehab programs are being run at Brooke, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.